The U’s poisoned chalice

EVERYONE loves a good old fashioned No. 9, a free-scoring centre-forward, but that has not been the case at Colchester United for more than a decade.

EVERYONE loves a good old fashioned No. 9, a free-scoring centre-forward, but that has not been the case at Colchester United for more than a decade.

In fact the No. 9 shirt has, at times, been a poisoned chalice for the U’s since squad numbers were introduced in the Football League 12 years ago.

Now Steven Gillespie, who has been plagued by countless injuries during his first three years with the Us, will be hoping to buck the trend.

Gillespie has been handed the No. 9 shirt for the U’s 2011-12 campaign, having worn the No.7 jersey in his first season and been given the No. 18 squad berth for the last two years.

Although the ex-Cheltenham marksman has occasionally dazzled – he scored nine goals in just 18 games last season – it has really been a tale of frustration.

And recent history, with the odd notable exception, does not favour the No. 9.

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Squad numbers were introduced in the Football League in 1999, six years after the FA Premier League, and Jamie Moralee, a much-forgotten U’s striker, was the first official bearer of the squad No. 9.

Journeyman Moralee, signed by then-manager Mick Wadsworth, managed just one goal in 27 league outings.

His long-term successor, Scott McGleish, faired much better over the next four years as the No. 9, but Marino Keith endured a torrid couple of seasons with that same squad number from 2005.

Scotsman Keith spent much of his time haunted by injury, including an Achilles tendon problem that ended his professional career. He did not even make an appearance in 2005-06 or 2006-07.

Clive Platt, a target man, was effective as a No.9 for the next three years, without ever being a prolific goalscorer, and of course last season the No. 9 jersey was not worn.

Now it is the turn of Gillespie.

THE U’s No. 9s since squad numbers were introduced in 1999 (league goals & appearances in brackets):

2010-11: not worn

2009-10: Platt (7 in 41)

2008-09: Platt (10 in 43)

2007-08: Platt (8 in 41)

2006-07: Keith (0 in 0)

2005-06: Keith (0 in 0)

2004-05: Fagan (8 in 26), Keith (4 in 12)

2003-04: McGleish (10 in 34)

2002-03: McGleish (8 in 43)

2001-02: McGleish (15 in 46)

2000-01: Lua Lua (2 in 7), McGleish (5 in 21)

1999-00: Moralle (1 in 27)

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