Woody shocked by fans’ stories

ONE supporter’s anecdote about a miserable trip back from Preston couldn’t have reached the ears of the Colchester players at a more opportune moment this week.

The U’s play-off hopes may now be all but over following three successive defeats, but there will still be a dedicated band of supporters that make the 530-mile round trip to Tranmere today.

Those same die-hard fans will have made the long journeys to Hereford and Sunderland in the League Cup full of enthisiasm at the start of the season.

And despite John Ward’s side suffering nine defeats from their last 12 games on their travels, many will still make the sizeable treks to Sheffield Wednesday, Carlisle and Yeovil between now and the end-of-the-season.

The money spent on travel, tickets, programmes and food/drink doesn’t bear thinking about.

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Whether the players appreciate that though this is a point of debate.

Ask any Colchester player about the support they receive and it’s probably safe to say their immediete thoughts would be of the half-empty stands witnessed at The Weston Homes Community Stadium this season.

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The tongue-in-cheek wave to the completely vacant North Stand by the players as way of a goal celebration earlier in the campaign proves as much.

It was therefore good timing this week that players and supporters were given a rare chance to mingle at the club’s rearranged Christmas party on Wednesday night.

The U’s players arrived at the dinner following two days off from training, manager Ward stating that he felt his squad needed a break to recharge their ‘bodies and minds’.

They left with some humbling anecdotes ringing in their ears ahead of today’s game in Merseyside.

“A man I spoke to told me a story about how he travelled up to Preston last season, missed two trains afterwards and didn’t get home until three in the morning,” said U’s midfielder Anthony Wordsworth.

“Sometimes I think players don’t realise what the fans go through to come and support us, so to hear some of their stories was a bit of a shock to a few of us.”

Just as a reminder Colchester were thrashed in that FA Cup third round game at Deepdale 7-0 on a cold January afternoon meaning the four and a half hour journey home would have felt like a lifetime.

It was a similar scenario this season when the U’s were dumped out of the FA Cup 4-0 at Swansea.

Indeed, by the time the final ball of the season is kicked on May 7, a Colchester fan (assuming they live in the town and went to every away match) will have clocked up a staggering 9,630 miles.

And with Preston, Scunthorpe and Sheffield United currently occupying the bottom three of the Championship and the likes of Chesterfield, Bury, Rotherham, Shrewsbury and Torquay in contention for promotion from League Two it could be about to get a whole lot worse.

Forget professional pride and new contracts – U’s players’ main motivation today should be rewarding those hardy souls in the Cowshed stand.

– Team news ahead of this afternoon’s game at Tranmere to follow on this website.

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