Parkinson's three-year success story

TOMORROW will be the third anniversary of Phil Parkinson's appointment as manager of Colchester United.Parkinson was named as the long-term successor to Steve Whitton on Tuesday, February 25, 2003, with caretaker boss Geraint Williams carrying on as his assistant.

By Carl Marston

TOMORROW will be the third anniversary of Phil Parkinson's appointment as manager of Colchester United.

Parkinson was named as the long-term successor to Steve Whitton on Tuesday, February 25, 2003, with caretaker boss Geraint Williams carrying on as his assistant.

These last three years have brought some very happy times to Layer Road, and no shortage of success. When Parkinson took over, the U's were in serious danger of suffering relegation.


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However, he completely transformed the U's, and in super-quick time. Williams had started the trend, by presiding over a four-match unbeaten run during his short tenure in February, and Parkinson then went on to scoop the manager of the month award for March, at the first time of asking.

The U's ended that season in 12th position, and the following three seasons have brought excitement in the league and cup competitions.

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There have been three terrific FA Cup runs, with two appearances in the fifth round, including last Sunday's never-to-be-forgotten trip to Chelsea. The U's captured the imagination of the whole nation that day, taking the lead at Stamford Bridge before finally losing 3-1, to a late Joe Cole brace.

Looking further back, the U's reached the southern area final of the LDV Vans Trophy in 2003-04, missing out on a first-ever appearance at the Millennium Stadium after the heartache of an aggregate defeat over two legs against Southend.

The following season, Parkinson inspired the U's to a victory over Premiership side West Brom in the second round of the Carling Cup. In the following round, they were unlucky to lose 3-2 at then-Premiership hosts Southampton, underdone by a hat-trick from youngster Dexter Blackstock.

In the league, they have finished in 12th, 11th and 15th positions over the last three seasons, and this term they are gunning for promotion to the Championship.

Players have come and gone, like dazzling front-runners Craig Fagan, Wayne Andrews and Rowan Vine. The current crop, led by Neil Danns, Greg Halford and Chris Iwelumo, have taken the club to an even higher level.

n See tomorrow's EADT for some more memories of Phil Parkinson's first three years as Colchester United manager.

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