Hits and misses: a quarter of a century of Colchester United’s target men

Chris Porter, who gave fine service to Colchester United. Picture: RICHARD BLAXALL

Chris Porter, who gave fine service to Colchester United. Picture: RICHARD BLAXALL - Credit: Richard Blaxall / Pagepix

U’s reporter CARL MARSTON compares Chris Porter, who left to join Crewe last week, to fellow No. 9 target men who have donned a U’s shirt over the last 25 years

Chris Iwelumo celebrates promotion to the Championship with manager Phil Parkinson, following a 0-0

Chris Iwelumo celebrates promotion to the Championship with manager Phil Parkinson, following a 0-0 draw at Yeovil in 2006. Picture: PAGEPIX - Credit: Archant

Chris Porter enjoyed his best campaign for a decade, as Colchester United narrowly missed out on the League Two play-offs last season.

The experienced Porter scored 16 goals in 38 league appearances for the U’s, to reignite his career following a few low-key seasons.

True, Porter did bag his goals in the fourth tier last term, as opposed to League One during previous seasons with the U’s and Sheffield United (2011-15), the Championship with Derby County (2009-11), and the third tier with Oldham (2005-07).

But it was still an impressive showing from the veteran target man, who will celebrate his 34th birthday in December,

Ex U's target man, Kayode Odejayi

Ex U's target man, Kayode Odejayi - Credit: Andrew Partridge


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Last week, Porter finalised a move to League Two rivals Crewe Alexandra, on a two- year deal. His current contract with the U’s had expired, although he had been offered a new package.

But keen to move back to his northern roots – he was born in Wigan and started his professional career at Bury – and with the security of a two-year contract under his belt, few would begrudge Porter this move.

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He has certainly given good service to the Essex club, scoring 30 goals in 91 league outings.

But how does he compare to previous Colchester United target men, from the last quarter of a century, since the U’s regained their Football League status in 1992 – those big, tall strikers who mostly used to don the No. 9 shirt?

Injury-hit former U's striker, Marino Keith

Injury-hit former U's striker, Marino Keith

I have reported on those last 25 years, and seen all those 6ft-plus strikers, so here’s my own list of hits and misses.

THE HITS

1 CHRIS IWELUMO

Adrian Coote, celebrates one of his few goals for the U's, at Bury's Gigg Lane. Picture: PAGEPIX

Adrian Coote, celebrates one of his few goals for the U's, at Bury's Gigg Lane. Picture: PAGEPIX

The Scotsman, in harness with Jamie Cureton, made up the classic big man/little man combination. At times, they were unplayable. He scored 19 goals, in all competitions, as the U’s clinched promotion to the Championship in 2005-06, and negotiated the step up to plunder 18 league goals in the second tier. He was ever-present for both those league campaigns.

2 SCOTT MCGLEISH

Wore the No. 9 shirt, though was not an archetype target man. He was only 5ft 9ins, but climbed above much taller defenders to head home some glorious goals. His record speaks for itself – 44 league goals in 159 outings, most of these coming in the third tier during the first half of the 2000s.

3 ROY MCDONOUGH

The U’s player-boss was 35 by the time that he was axed, in the summer of 1994. But the traditional, no-nonsense target man had bagged 26 goals to help his U’s team to the Conference title in 1992, and netted nine goals in each of the next two seasons before his time came to an end.

4 JABO IBEHRE

Always a crowd favourite, he was the U’s player-of-the-year in 2012-13, after finishing joint top scorer with Freddie Sears. The 34-year-old is still going strong, having signed a one-year deal with Cambridge only last week.

5 CHRIS PORTER

(see above)

6 KAYODE ODEJAYI

Wore the No. 15 rather than the No. 9 shirt, but led the U’s front-line to good effect between 2009 and 2012. Only scored 17 goals in 115 league games, due to some indifferent finishing, He was crowned the U’s player-of-the-year in 2010-11, even though he only managed four goals in 43 games.

7 MARK SALE

Another striker not renowned for his goal-scoring prowess, but this beanpole front-man helped Steve Wignall’s men to promotion via the play-offs in 1997-98 with seven goals in 39 matches.

8 CLIVE PLATT

Faced with the unenviable task of filling the boots left by Iwelumo, and lumbered with the tag of the U’s then most expensive signing (£300,000 from MK Dons in 2007), he was at his best when playing alongside Kevin Lisbie.

MISSES

1 JOEL THOMAS

This Frenchman was a flop, having been recruited by Paul Lambert for £25,000 from Hamilton Academical in the summer of 2009. And that’s where he returned, just six months later, after no goals in four outings.

2 ADRIAN COOTE

The ex-Norwich City man never wore the No. 9, and it’s probably just as well, Bagged just four goals in 35 league games (2001-03) in the No. 28 and No. 15 shirts.

3 JAMIE MORALEE

Much-travelled former Brighton striker managed a mere two goals in 29 games, most of them during Mick Wadsworth’s era. Ended up at Barry Town. Enough said.

4 MARINO KEITH

Injuries blighted the Scotsman’s stay at Layer Road. He picked up an Achilles injury in pre-season in 2005 and never played for the U’s again.

5 CLINTON MORRISON

Gave his all, wearing the No. 9 shirt, but his scoring touch had long deserted him from those heady days at Crystal Palace.

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