Colchester United’s review of the year

George Moncur watches his shot hit the back of the net and keep Colchester in League One

George Moncur watches his shot hit the back of the net and keep Colchester in League One

Another season, another relegation battle conquered.

Tom Eastman, played every minute of every game

Tom Eastman, played every minute of every game - Credit: Su Anderson

Colchester United’s players, let alone their supporters, are becoming accustomed to coping with their annual struggle against relegation.

For the third year in a row, the Essex club fought against the dreaded drop, into League Two, and emerged victorious.

This season was even more dramatic, eclipsing the last-gasp escape acts of 2012-13 and 2013-14.

Two years ago, Joe Dunne’s men squeezed home on the final day, thanks to a comfortable 2-0 win at Carlisle. They didn’t have to worry about results elsewhere.

Sam Walker, in a celebratory mood. He only missed one league game all season

Sam Walker, in a celebratory mood. He only missed one league game all season - Credit: Richard Blaxall/Focus Images Ltd

Last year, Dunne’s side guaranteed their League One safety just a few days earlier, via a surprise 4-1 home win over already-promoted Brentford on the final weekend of the campaign.

But this season, with Dunne exiting at the end of August, to be replaced by Tony Humes, the U’s surpassed even their own normal standards, in terms of putting their fans through the mill, by leaving it until the dying minutes to secure safety.

Most Read

The odds were 7-1 against the U’s staying up, on that final day.

Firstly, they were hosting opposition, in Preston, who needed to win to achieve automatic promotion, and who had been unbeaten in their previous 18 games.

And secondly, the U’s fate was not in their own hands.

They began the final day, third-from-bottom, needing two results elsewhere to go their way, in addition to beating Preston.

They required both Crawley and Notts County not to win, or one of those not to win and Crewe to lose. In the end, all three lost.

It was an unforgettable day for everyone connected with Colchester United FC.

And in my 23 years of covering the U’s, spanning more than 1,000 games (1,011 to be precise), I have only ever once experienced a more nervous match, both to spectate and to report on, than last Sunday’s heart-stopping afternoon.

That was at Yeovil, nine years ago, when the U’s held on for a goalless draw to secure automatic promotion to the Championship.

The emotions were very similar against Preston – a mixture of huge relief and great joy – proving that avoiding relegation can be nearly as rewarding as winning promotion!


Game: The final day 1-0 win over Preston (May 3)

Away day: Last-gasp 3-2 win at Fleetwood (April 25)

Goal: Chris Porter’s stunning long-range strike at Bradford (1-1 draw), in only his second U‘s appearance (January 31)

Press box: Coventry City. Glad that the Sky Blues moved back to the Ricoh Arena, from a cramped Sixfields.

Press lounge food: Pie-and-peas at Sheffield United, stew at Preston

Motorway services: Bumping into then-Labour leader, Ed Miliband, in the car park at Blyth Services off the A1, on the way up to Doncaster.

List of leading scorers:

1 Freddie Sears 14 (10 league)

2 George Moncur 9 *8)

3 Gavin Massey 8 (7)

4 Chris Porter 7 (7)

5 Sammie Szmodics 5 (4)

Total number of goalscorers: 19 (no own goals)

List of leading appearance makers

1 Tom Eastman 51 (46 league, 46 starts, 0 subs)

2 Gavin Massey 51 (46 league, 39+7)

3 Sam Walker 49 (45 league, 45+0)

4 George Moncur 46 (41, 34+7)

5 Sean Clohessy 37 (32, 31+1)


Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter