Little Tillie adds to the emotion
SKIPPER Karl Duguid very nearly didn't make it to Colchester United's final ever game at Layer Road.Duguid is the U's longest serving player, by a country mile, and he duly clocked up his 437th senior appearance in a U's shirt during 13 years as a professional.
SKIPPER Karl Duguid very nearly didn't make it to Colchester United's final ever game at Layer Road.
Duguid is the U's longest serving player, by a country mile, and he duly clocked up his 437th senior appearance in a U's shirt during 13 years as a professional.
But the 29-year-old only made the game by the skin of his teeth, because his wife Gemma gave birth to their daughter Tillie only the previous afternoon.
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Duguid revealed: “I've basically been up for the last 38 hours, without any sleep.
“It was a long labour, and there were complications, so in the end Gemma had a cesarean at 2.20pm on Friday. Otherwise, I would still probably be at the hospital and would have missed the game!
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“It's been an emotional last few days for me. I have some great memories of playing at Layer Road, but it's now time for the club to move on.
“It's a great privilege to be the captain of such a great club, and I've enjoyed two promotions since I've been playing. Now we're all looking forward to moving to the new ground,” added Duguid.
U's boss Geraint Williams did not believe that the enormity of the occasion - the end of an era at Layer Road - affected his players.
Williams insisted: “I thought my players applied themselves magnificently. They blocked out everything that was going on off the pitch, because we knew that it was important to say a good farewell to the old ground.
“I don't think that the game matched the occasion. We were as good as we could be in difficult circumstances. We had to be physically strong against a Stoke side who are well known for their height, power and organisation.
“Once again, a little disruption at the wrong time went against us.
“Adam Virgo had to go off with a knee injury in the 40th minute, and we ended up conceding the goal just six minutes later, with a new centre-half (Bela Balogh) on the pitch. That's been the story of our season.
“We managed to put some pressure on them late on, but Stoke have been doing this to teams all season.
“I want to keep hold of all the players that we want for next season, but I wouldn't say that I'm confident of doing that, because we have to run this club on an even keel, otherwise we'd end up going the way of so many other clubs, into administration and being docked 10 points.
“We need to build up our resources to keep the budget up and get the players in.
“We will be training at Layer Road during the week, so there will be plenty of time for us all to have some quiet moments to reflect on our memories of the old ground,” added Williams, who first arrived at Layer Road as a player in 1998.
Stoke boss Tony Pulis said: “Promotion is still in our own hands, and that's the most important thing about today.
“We made sure that we distanced ourselves from all the pre-match distractions. The main event didn't start until 3pm.”
If Stoke take a point from their final game at home to Leicester City, then they are definitely promoted.