Wayne has every respect for old club
WAYNE Brown, the powerhouse of newly-promoted Colchester United's defence, has every respect for his old club Ipswich Town.Brown will hope to mastermind a second successive clean sheet for the U's, following Saturday's goalless draw at Leicester City, when Town visit Layer Road on Friday evening.
By Carl Marston
WAYNE Brown, the powerhouse of newly-promoted Colchester United's defence, has every respect for his old club Ipswich Town.
Brown will hope to mastermind a second successive clean sheet for the U's, following Saturday's goalless draw at Leicester City, when Town visit Layer Road on Friday evening.
Since the 29-year-old left Portman Road in December, 2002, he has continued to hold his first club Ipswich in very high regard, although, of course, those sentiments will be put to one side this week.
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“I have very fond memories of my time at Ipswich. The team should be in the Premiership in terms of facilities,” insisted Brown.
“It's not until you go away from Portman Road that you realise how good the set-up is. The club tends to bring the best out of the younger players.
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“Friday will be a special day for me. It will be the first competitive match against Ipswich that I've played in, since I left. There's been some big games, but not a Colchester v Ipswich.
“I've always held Ipswich in high esteem, and the old players always seem to get a smile whenever they walk through the door. I always get a warm welcome,” added Brown.
The U's defender, who initially left Ipswich to join Watford, before moving onto Layer Road in February, 2004, admits that he was surprised when Jim Magilton was appointed the new Town boss over the summer.
But he reckons that the combination of Magilton and his assistant Bryan Klug will be a good double act in the Championship.
Brown continued: “Jim (Magilton) was always a big character on the pitch and in the dressing room. He's one of the good guys in the game, and now he has a chance to show what he can do as a manager.
“I have to admit that I was a little surprised when he got the job. But I wish him all the best. I have a lot of admiration for Jim, both as a player and a manager. He's a very passionate man and he knows what he wants.
“It's a big asset to have Bryan Klug alongside. I played under Bryan as a reserve team player. He's a first-class coach.
“In fact, I think that people have underestimated Bryan in the past. He's come a long way, and he taught me such a lot, as he did all the young players.”
Centre-half Brown made 50 senior appearances for Town, having served his apprenticeship in 1996. Not surprisingly, there were many highlights.
“I remember making my debut as a 19-year-old, at Middlesbrough (1-1 draw on January 17, 1998). Mark Venus was injured, and George (Burley) told me that I would be in the team on Friday, a day before the game. George was a good manager for me,” recalled Brown.
“It was a massive achievement to win promotion (1999-2000). I was in the squad for the play-off final (4-2 win over Barnsley), although I was one of the unused substitutes. Those are the sort of games that you always want to play in.
“But I played a big part in the play-off semi-final against Bolton. Tony Mowbray got injured early on in the first leg at the Reebok Stadium (2-2 draw), and I was in the starting line-up for the second leg (5-3 win, after extra-time).
“It was also a great experience to play in Europe. I played a couple of times at home, and also away in Russia, where we kept a clean-sheet in a hostile atmosphere,” said Brown, with reference to Town's 1-0 win at FK Sartid in a UEFA Cup first round tie on October 3, 2002.
Now, though, Brown is very much a Colchester player. Town were relegated from the Premiership in 2002, and have been striving to win promotion back to the top flight ever since, while the U's reached the Championship for the first time in their history last May, earning automatic promotion from League One as runners-up to Southend.
Brown scooped all the major player-of-the-year awards last term, and it was his terrific form during the second-half of the campaign that consolidated the U's promotion push, despite the distraction of two long cup runs.
He was named the man-of-the-match in the 3-1 defeat at Chelsea in the fifth round of the FA Cup, just a few weeks after undergoing an operation to remove a cancerous mole from his head.
This season, his consistent performances have already twice earned him selection in the Coca-Cola Championship select team of the week.
“People might say that we are playing Ipswich at the wrong time, because of their return to form, but we're on a good run ourselves,” said Brown.
“It was very pleasing to keep our first clean-sheet, although we were disappointed not to have beaten Leicester, especially as they weren't at their best.
“I thought we pressed higher up the pitch in the second-half, which we hadn't been doing in previous away games. It made it a lot easier at the back. We kept the ball further forward. In our last two home games, against Derby (4-3 win) and QPR (2-1 win), we took the early initiative, and that's what we want to do against Ipswich.
“It shows how far we've come as a team, that we're now welcoming teams like Ipswich to Layer Road. Ipswich are a decent side, but we're full of confidence at the moment.
“We think that we can finish in mid-table, and that would be a good season for us,” concluded Brown.