Ex-U's man Richards at Wembley

GARRY Richards missed out on arguably Colchester United's most glamorous away fixture, at then-Premier League champions Chelsea, due to suspension.

Carl Marston

GARRY Richards missed out on arguably Colchester United's most glamorous away fixture, at then-Premier League champions Chelsea, due to suspension.

The former U's centre-half suffered the anguish of being sent off at Huddersfield Town the previous weekend, in a 2-0 defeat on February 11, 2006.

That red card cost him dear, because he was forced to sit in the stands at Stamford Bridge and watch his U's team-mates play the games of their lives before eventually bowing to a 3-1 defeat in a pulsating FA Cup fifth round tie.


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Today, however, and Richards will not miss out on the big game - the 22-year-old is set to marshal Gillingham's defence in the League Two play-off final against Shrewsbury Town at Wembley.

“You have your highs and lows, but that's football,” admitted Richards, who played 24 games for the U's.

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“You just need to keep cracking away until the opportunity comes again. Your never know when that opportunity will come again, and fingers crossed it has.

“They don't come much bigger than a cup final at Wembley,” added Richards.

He played alongside Wayne Brown in the heart of defence at Huddersfield, but his enforced absence meant that Pat Baldwin came in for the cup tie at Stamford Bridge. Baldwin remains a stalwart defender under current U's boss Paul Lambert.

Romford-born Richards, who came through the youth ranks at Layer Road, moved on to Southend for a �50,000 fee during the summer of 2007. Six months later and he switched to Gillingham for �70,000.

Richards will be hoping that it's third time lucky this afternoon, because in addition to missing out on the U's big game at Chelsea under Phil Parkinson, he also missed the Gills' FA Cup game with Aston Villa earlier this season, again due to suspension.

One of the current Colchester players, though, will be hoping that Richards is on the losing side. Left-back Marc Tierney signed for the U's from Shrewsbury last autumn.

The 23-year-old was a consistent performer during his first season with United, and was a strong contender for the player-of-the-season accolade, which eventually went to skipper Dean Hammond.

However, Tierney still has a lot of friends at the New Meadow, and so will be rooting for a Shrews win at Wembley, to set up two fixtures against his old club in League One next term.

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