U’s and me: ‘Carl’s Curse’ is officially over, I think

Freddie Sears is left wondering what happened as the U's surrender a two goal advantage to lose 3-2

Freddie Sears is left wondering what happened as the U's surrender a two goal advantage to lose 3-2 to Sheffield United in the last ten minutes

I am making an official announcement – my curse on our local teams, for the current season, is over.

I consider that Colchester United’s spirited comeback, to beat Chesterfield 2-1 at a brutally cold Weston Homes Community Stadium on Tuesday night, has finally put to bed my unwanted stranglehold on clubs along the A12 and A14 corridors.

Before Tuesday night, my dismal record for the season, in press boxes, had been – played 19, won three, drawn five and lost 11.

That, I fear, is relegation form.

Clubs were beginning to dread me requesting a press pass, it was that bad!


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Ironically, only lowly Bury Town, my hometown club, escaped my curse.

Despite Bury’s wretched start to the season, I was actually at Ram Meadow to report on their 1-0 win over Canvey Island on Bank Holiday Monday, August 25.

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That remains one of only two wins, from 21 league and cup games, that the Blues have won this term as they face up to a harsh winter of trying to avoid relegation from the Ryman Premier.

Otherwise, though, the likes of Colchester, Needham Market, Braintree Town and even Ipswich Town have suffered, whenever I graced their respective press boxes, or, in some cases, press seats.

Colchester United, my main focus of attention, particularly suffered, to such an extent that they endured their worst start to a season for 39 years, before eventually parting company with their manager Joe Dunne at the start of September.

Your current scribe, whom even I admit is getting a bit long-in-the-tooth these days, wasn’t hanging around the Layer Road press box back in 1975-76, when Bobby Roberts’ men endured an equally poor start.

Dunne collected just one point from his side’s first five games in League One, as well as presiding over a 4-0 defeat at Charlton in the Capital One Cup, before he left by mutual consent.

Thankfully, things have picked up for the U’s since then, which is just as well because otherwise communications and media managers David Gregory and Matt Hudson would soon have been reviewing their decision to have renewed my season’s press pass for a 23rd campaign!

It didn’t help that in the two games I have missed, my deputy Will Ridgard stepped in to oversee an impressive four points from two press box appearances.

When Sam Clucas broke the deadlock after just 61 seconds on Tuesday night, to give Chesterfield an early lead, I felt that my curse was very much alive-and-kicking on my return to the home of the U’s.

Messeurs Gregory and Hudson were perhaps already considering how to breach the subject of the equivalent of a touch-line ban – a press box ban – before super sub Rhys Healey notched an equaliser, and Freddie Sears then smashed home a glorious late winner.

I have, I think, a stay of execution!

Elsewhere, Braintree Town went on a spectacular run of five wins in six matches in the Conference, the one spoiler being a midweek trip to Welling United.

And yes, you’ve guessed it, ‘muggins here’ decided it would be a good idea to report on an in-form Iron at Welling, in the London Borough of Bexley.

Alan Devonshire’s men were actually leading 1-0 at half-time, before my curse raised its ugly head again, lowly Welling rallying to record an unlikely 2-1 home win.

Ipswich have not escaped my curse either.

True, Mick McCarthy’s men did not lose, on my brief return to the Portman Road press suite, but they did manage to throw away victory deep into injury-time at the hands of 10-man Blackburn, via Ben Marshall’s 94th minute free-kick.

When McCarthy, before beginning his post-match interview, joked that “bu..ocks” was an apt word to sum up how he felt, I wasn’t sure whether he was applying this to his team’s late heartache, or my own cursed presence in the Town press lounge.

However, if any club has a gripe about me rolling up to their stadium, armed with a lap-top and a flask of coffee, then it must be Needham Market.

The Marketmen had won all seven of their league and cup games, to sit proudly on top of the Ryman North, when I arrived at Bloomfields to cover their home game against Brentwood Town.

True to form (my form, not Needham’s!), Brentwood upset the apple-cart with a 2-1 away win. By the time I returned to Needham, for my second game, the Suffolk hosts had regained their winning touch – with 12 wins from 13 games.

Visitors Heybridge Swifts were late in arriving, due to traffic hold-ups, so the Marketmen were confident of making it 13 out of 14.

They lost 2-1!

Next time I go to Needham, I think I will come in a disguise, wearing a funny beard – ah, I already have one of them!

May the curse be over.

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