The matchday routines were slightly different today.
I do hate to change em as they’ve done so well this season and obviously our recent run of good form and winning run is entirely down to them but because we had an early start and a long drive I got them out of the way the night before….
Anything to get a few more minutes duvet time.
I also had to head over to the Young Uns house and get her, plus Stan and Laura who were meeting us there. A first away day with us for Laura so we needed to make the experience a good one.
I sort meself out and get over there pretty sharpish…once I’ve picked them up I have to head to Donny to pick up Danny and meet Durruti who was bringing me over one of the nice shiny new Wednesday Cricket Club shirts…hot off the press.
We load the car and no sooner had we got to the end of the road and the Young Un says “pull ower here and I’ll buy us bacon sarnies”
I screech to a halt!
20 minutes and a lot of impatient tapping and chunterin’ later and she’s back…”How chuffin long does it take to make a bacon sarnie?” I ask.
“It was Stans black pudding sandwich that took the time” she replies…My jaw dropped and I shook my head. Now I love me black pudding as much as the next man but it’s definitely not sandwich material in my opinion.
On my bag it said Bacon, Egg and Tomato…I sighed!
I’ve told her before about crossing tomato and egg…it’s not allowed…never cross the streams…it doesn’t work…it’s nasty…it’s like Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sarah Brightman…it just doesn’t go, it’s a piss poor match.
Anyway, that’s what it said on the bag but inside it was Bacon, Egg and sausage…A WINNING COMBO!
I snaffled most of it down and handed her the rest whilst I set off getting us to Donny.
Once we got onto the A1 I asked for my sarnie back….
“I’ve trashed it” she says
WHAT THE FOOK!
“I thought you’d done.”
WHAT THE FOOKIN FOOK!
Dig the chuffer out, I tell her…I want it
She rummages through the rubbish in the car until she finds a bag with sandwich remnants in…she picks the component sandwich parts out and tries to reassemble the whole thing…Without the box lid and the picture she does a shit job and it really does look like garbage…a right fookin mess…
I’m sat there holding it and it looks like I’ve found it in the street or a bin…it was roadkill.
I manage to make the best of a bad situation and snaffle the remains.
We get to Doncaster a little later than we intended but they’re both waiting for us. I take the goods from Durruti and have a quick look…it’s a belting bit of kit. I like it a lot. He’s done a great job resurrecting The Wednesday Cricket Club. It’s an integral part of the history of our club and he and the other fellas involved are due the respect of every single Wednesday fan in my opinion. (Oh and those shirts are available to buy in the SWFC Club shop)
It’s not long before we’re on our way proper and heading down the A1 on the long journey South.
We have to while away the boredom somehow and for that we have the music and a set of signs that the Young Un bought me. They have various phrases on em and we get one each to hold up to folk as we pass them…the different reactions are incredible and you can tell who’s having a good day by how they respond. They range from someone flicking the V sign up, another bloke shaking his head, a couple of lasses laughing and giving us the thumbs up and best of all a joiner in his van who woke his son up to look at us.
By the time the young lad had looked bleary eyed out of his window we’d overtaken them so he sped up to come past us on the outside. The little lad had that ‘just woken up face on, a little bit of drool on his chin, a few skin indents from something he’d laid on and his hair was all over the place. We all stuck our signs up and he looked bewildered.
‘You woke me up for this Dad? A bunch of fookin idiots with a load of stupid signs? I was having a great dream’
He smiled limply and settled back down to continue his snooze.
We got bored of the signs pretty quick and turned to the music to get us through the journey and in particular songs from the 90’s.
You find out a lot about folk when ya listen to retrop stuff like this…for instance none of knew before today that Stan was a huge Backstreet Boys fan…he knew all the words and had we been stood up I think he’d have shown us all the moves too. This wasn’t a passing interest …in addition to knowing all the words to every song he knew all their names, he’d had the clothes and the posters he was Backstreet Stan
I do love it when you get to songs that everyone knows a couple of words to, where they all know the chorus and the first song to really fit that bill was good old Chesney Hawkes.
Weeeeeoooooo…Badum…I AM THE ONE AND ONLY!
Everyone loves Chesney and that song…the thing is nobody in the world knows more than that one line so when it starts everyone gets over excited and shouts it at the top of their voice before returning to mumbles…
When they used to play it at discos everyone would run onto the dance floor and shout it out, with their arm in the air, fist clenched…
I AM THE ONE AND ONLY!
Then everyone scurries quickly back off to their seats or the bar…It’s a unique song. It’s a great floor filler AND emptier all rolled into one…
Mindst you…Danny knew far too many words for my liking…anyone that knows more than that opening line has spent too much time alone singing into a shower head.
I was undecided which was scariest, Danny knowing all the words to this or finding out Stan is a closet Backstreet Boy…I fear for the youth at times.
When you enjoy the journey like this it passes very quickly and we made good time, almost too good in fact and we were there far too early so had plenty of time to kick our heels. Having said that it was a hell of a walk to the ground from where we’d parked so maybe we didn’t have as much spare time as I thought.
They’ve built a new slip road here so you can come off right at the side of the ground, which is all well and good but you can’t park at the ground unless you’re a permit holder. That means you can choose to pay £6 parking and have a brisk walk or park for free back at the trading estate…I always choose the free option…even if it is a 3 day hike.
We set off walking to the ground and with the sun still shining our great mood continued and that’s no mean feat after a 3-hour journey in a full car.
We were all looking forward to the days footy, full of the joys of spring and very confident of a good outcome. After covering a days worth of the trek to the ground I suddenly realised I’d left my phone on the dashboard and had to leg it back to the car…
In true Scott of the Arctic fashion I told them all not to worry about me.
I said I’d survive, and they should go on ahead without me and I’d meet them at base camp, otherwise known as the burger van near the ground.
They chuffin did as well…they just abandoned me…let me walk all that way back on my own, without a care in the world for my safety. Someone coulda had me up the leafy lane…I could have been pulled into the bushes by some crazed lunatic on the look out for big boned old blokes with wonderful natural hair. IT COULD HAPPEN!
I Dad jogged all the way back to the car…on me own…doing secret sideways looks to make sure no one was gonna leap out of the bushes on me…as every Dad knows, the dad jog is the only way to run.
It looks and feels faster than a walk but it’s nowhere near really. In your head you look like Usain Bolt, lithe, supple, muscular; a streetwise Hercules…in reality you look like a space-hopper battling to stay upright. (A space-hopper with great hair though)
Another day had passed by the time I met them all at base camp and they’d all downed their burgers and drinks…I still needed one though, I was Hank Marvin after all that ‘running’ and needed to top up my energy levels. It’s what us athletes do ya know.
In no time at all I was sorted and we headed on the last stage of the trek to the ground…
The last time we came here I was taken to task about comments I made about the ground and I’ve decided to look upon the place with fresh eyes…I did go overboard and the Colchester PR guy that contacted me thought I’d gone a bit overboard in running the place down. He’s rightly proud of this place and what they’re trying to achieve and he defended the place well, he was also correct, I did go a little OTT.
I have mellowed a little about the place but I’m still not fully converted…I still don’t like the fact that it’s a ‘Community Stadium’ that is so far away from the community. It feels like I’m going on walkabout and need to cancel appointments for the next week before embarking on the journey but that’s only for away fans really.
There’s no parking at the ground itself for away fans so that nice new slip road means nothing to us. To the locals maybe, providing they’ve got permits but again, that’s not very community spirited if you can’t make every game or can’t afford a permit. The nearest parking is still a brisk walk away and you have to pay 6 quid for the privilege…
For those that take the cheap option and the 5 mile walk…quite literally 5 mile walk…OK…maybe not quite 5 miles but it is a very long walk, probably a couple of miles but in this weather it’s not too bad at all…a nice sunny day and providing you don’t forget anything and have to walk back to the car on your own, it’s nice enough…
The burger van is perfectly placed for those taking the long walk and it’s the only one within 20 miles of the ground. (I wouldn’t mind 10% of that pitch) There’s always a queue before and after the game and the couple who run it are smashing. Very patient and very friendly…She takes the orders, he cooks em and it’s a well practiced drill but his onions do need cooking a bit longer.
When you arrive at the ground, this is the bit I genuinely like about the new place…
It’s called the ‘Community Stadium’ and this is where you feel that community spirit…
Admittedly it’s enhanced by the sunshine but there’s a rock band playing outside and everyone is relaxing, kicking back and taking in the great tunes…
They were very good too, right up my cul-de-sac.
Just to the side of them there’s some kids playing soft tennis on a small court set up and further round there’s a couple of lasses on stilts dressed as guards.
It all makes for a really good family community orientated vibe and I love it.
There’s no leariness and everyone goes about the place in a good mood…
It feels that friendly that we have a photo with the programme seller and anyone else that will stop and talk. Kudos to Colchester for this…it’s not easy at football grounds to create this sort of family friendly atmosphere.
We nip into the shop for a fridge magnet…its something I intended on doing all season long and the young un nags me everytime we visit an away ground to nip in and get one…I have about 6…so as ya can see, it’s a massive collection…
In the shop they’re very friendly, helpful folk and inside the ground it’s all new and clean and the food, drinks and service are pretty good…I do like the place and it’s all credit to Colchester…however…I do still miss Layer Road and I’d rather go there anytime but I get what they’re trying to do here…now if only they could move the community a little closer to the ground….
Whilst we enjoyed a drink under the away stand, or in Lauras case, a lot of drinks, a few others started to arrive, Wym and Nozza, freshly drunk from Norfolk and Baldy turned up with them in a more sober mood.
We made our way up to our seats just as the teams were coming out…
- THE MATCH
Perhaps we’ve been spoiled of late, or maybe we’ve just turned a blind eye to things that have been staring us in the face because the results have gone our way, after all, the only thing that matters in football, especially at this stage of the season is the results. That’s right isn’t it?
Well if it is right then the result stinks and we’ve done ourselves no favours at all here by ‘accepting’ a draw against what I believe is one of the worst Colchester United sides I’ve seen and we’ve had some edgy games with them in the past…usually we come out of them on the wrong end of a bad result.
Well having watched this Colchester United twice now I’m convinced we should have doubled them this season as they were there for the taking today.
Had we not gifted them an early goal I think we could have taken Bywater off and still not conceded…OK, maybe he had one save to make that he made look very good for the cameras but he really wasn’t tested at all by a Colchester side simply going through the motions and content to while away the season simply drawing a wage…little wonder the home crowd looked so low.
It was uninspiring football from them with no edge and no will to win but what did we do about it?
We were the side chasing that second spot and it’s up to us to take the game to them and make them have it…
This was as bad a performance as we’ve seen under Dave Jones and all things considered one of the worst of the season.
Far too many of our players seemed settled into the play offs and going through the motions…far too many of them lacked an edge. They looked jaded and tired for the best part of 90 minutes and lacking any creative spark for most of it too.
When Antonio decided to take on the world in our own 18yard box it wasn’t really surprising when he lost the ball cheaply and Colchester profited from it straight away. Within a couple of minutes of kick off we were on the back foot and the Blades had second spot all tucked up nice and safe.
What a chuffin idiot.
It’s basic schoolboy stuff that…You don’t fanny about in your own box, especially when the opposition are pressing you…he had at least two options for getting shut of the ball but chose not to…a moments indecision, a moment of bravado, of thinking he can do what he wants and he’d lost that ball. Colchester nipped forward, a short sharp pass across the box and in the blink of an eye they were beating Bywater at his near post.
To be fair to the Wednesday fans we were undaunted and we tried to lift the team straight after it, knowing we had plenty of time for the team to settle into playing the good stuff and put that setback behindus.
It just wasn’t happening though and other than a couple of moments there seemed an almost resigned feel to everything…
If the players couldn’t be bothered why should we?
It really did look like that…gone was the nice passing game we’ve played of late…gone was the movement off the ball…there was no endeavour here and we even reverted to hoofing.
When we had the chance for a quick break we didn’t take it and a lot of the time it was because of Bywater not releasing ball. Several times when we had chance for a quick break…in one instance Llera came back for the ball, asking for it, adamant that he wanted it to take it forward but Bywater was having none of it. Under no circumstances was he giving Llera the ball and he let him know that in no uncertain terms…instead, as he did all through the game he vehemently waved the players away so he could boot it upfield.
I’ve not seen him like this before…maybe the odd moment but not like this, all through the game…I’ve always had a lot of faith and belief in Bywater but I didn’t like what I saw here if I’m honest.
But all that was just part of the problem.
We had absolutely no control of the midfield and all four of our midfield players might as well not have been there…we lacked width, we lacked drive and we lacked any sort of attacking ambition
There was a moment where Llera had the ball over on the touchline wide left…under no pressure at all he steps forward and fairy taps the ball into touch for a Colchester throw…Every single Wednesday fan stood there open mouthed. This bloke is one of the better ball players we have and he does that? Right on cue the scoreboard flashes up an advert for the Comedy Club but there wasn’t much to laugh at here and once again I find myself thinking…hurry up half time! Let’s get em in and rousted to come out second half and earn their crust.
In that first half very few players came out of it with good marks…Madine worked hard, Beevers and Buxton did well but the two centre halves looked dodgy at times and hoofed for no reason…a lot…long and hopeless.
Our width was non-existent and JJ was a passenger…we couldn’t find the fooker most of the time. We looked behind the advertising boards, in the dugouts, outside in the sheds…he had to be somewhere…he certainly wasn’t on the wing….aaah, there he is, stood doing fook all on the centre spot. He really was just stood there taking no part in the game and looking for all the world as though he didn’t want to be involved.
When Lines won the ball inside the left touchline just over halfway he was waiting for help, for movement…for the overlap…just some indication that he wasn’t alone on the pitch…JJ doesn’t move…if he makes the run we set up a great chance here…if he steps forward he can help Lines out…he doesn’t and Lines tries to work the ball but he gets closed down by 2 Colchester players and despite his best efforts he loses possession. As soon as he does JJ shouts at him holding his arms out asking why he hadn’t given him the ball…
He literally hadn’t moved from the spot in all that time and offered nothing…the Wednesday fans weren’t happy with him and they let him know exactly that.
YOU NEED TO SHOW FOR IT JJ!
MOVE YOUR LAZY CHUFFIN ARSE!
That summed up the half to me. We were going nowhere fast and the players didn’t seem in a hurry to get back into the game.
At half time I’d have taken off JJ and Ranger, we were getting nothing from them…Get O Grady and Mike Jones on and give that pair a rocket up the arse.
GIVE EM ALL A ROCKET UP THE ARSE!
The only thing we showed any spirit in was the halftime entertainment when a fan from each side climbed into one of them bubble balls and raced the length of the pitch. The Wednesday lad absolutely pissed it whilst the Colchester fella veered way left and into the goals, to cheers from both sets of fans.
There had to be changes when the team came out for the second half but the only one we could see was that JJ had changed his boots.
He was now wearing his more familiar yellow boots and for some reason it had the desired effect. This was a different JJ…suddenly he’s hugging the touchline and he’s full of running. Either the boots were working or Dave Jones had tightened the leash on him to keep him tight to the touchline and actually playing on the wing.
Within five minutes of the restart we were alive again and that second spot was back on the table….
Madine chases a long ball over, it goes right into corner on our right…he’s no right to get to it to be fair as the defender is closest and hands down favourite to get there first but Madine catches him and uses his great strength to get in front and hold the lad off…he cuts back towards goal…the defender tackles him and fouls him. He really didn’t need to do it, but he did and we got the free kick…
Lines takes it…he places the ball and he puts an absolute peach in…
Madine goes up and misses it, so does the keeper but there’s Llera behind em all and the ball drops perfect for him to tap home…
Of course we go fookin nuts…
The Young Un ended up kicking Baldy on the shin, standing on his foot and as he bent forward I was mid jump and elbowed him in the mouth…he was getting it from all angles…
We were piling on, grabbing who and whatever we could and in seconds we were over the back of the seats in a big pile…
Fookin hell! Get in ya beauty…
Now lets kick on Wednesday!
The Wednesday fans were right back on it now and the noise at times was absolutely incredible, real fur up stuff.
If the team couldn’t perform now, the lift of a goal coupled with the great support, then they never would…
Well we didn’t exactly kick on but we were much better than in the first half and JJ was a different man.
He’s right back to his scintillating best and the ball is tied to his laces. At times he’s back to being the majestic, mercurial JJ that we all love…of course there’s the odd moment alongside that wonderful, wonderful skill where the ‘back to basics’ JJ makes a show. The JJ that frustrates us all as his shooting is so far off the mark it’s Comedy Club time again.
It’s the sort of stuff we’ve seen him do many times, shots that go out for a throw in, runs where he leaves the ball behind but in amongst that is a lot of the good stuff now including a breathtaking mazy run ending with a wonderful curling effort that goes just wide of the far post. To be fair to the lad he had few of those…not quite a s close as that one but a few mazy runs ending in a shot on goal and he’d really picked up his game.
We had a few decent chances this half, Madine going close from another Chris Lines free kick, but heading just over this time…
Another chance where he went to ground in the box looking for the penalty when the better option was to stay on his feet. Had he done so the ball would have fallen very nicely for him.
Perhaps that falling over business is something he’s learned from watching Ched Evans the other week.
For all our better play we couldn’t make it pay and it all got very frustrating.
Antonio looked very jaded today. Really weary and at the end he was dead on his feet. At one point he trudged over to take a throw in having just taken one on the opposite side and he could barely lift his feet to walk. He shoulda tried the Dad jog.
In the dying seconds he even got the ball down our right in acres of space…the ball had been a peach, from Semedo and taken the defenders out of the game…Antonio looked up, he had plenty of time but there was no one there, he just needed to hold on a second til they got forward or take it on himself…He didn’t seem to have the energy to take it on so he looked up again and with Madine in the heart of the 6 yard box he lobbed the ball across…way too heavy and out the other side. There was no one there but he’d lobbed it anyway and it sailed harmlessly out for a Colchester throw in…the Wednesday fans held their heads in their hand s and shouted in frustration…
It was a feeling we’d had most of this game…even through the glimmer of hope after we’d scored you got the underlying feeling of angst and frustration.
Antonio did have the ball in the net in the closing minutes though…
It looked a lovely ball through for him but the off side flag was as he slid the ball under the keeper.
He really didn’t look offside when the ball was released but it didn’t matter, it summed the day up.
If we’d played the first half as we had the second maybe we’d have got the win we wanted…that we NEEDED!
The fact that we didn’t simply makes it harder to bear. Only playing 45 minutes in a game seems to becoming a habit these days and we couldn’t rescue it this time.
When the final whistle went it felt like a defeat and you could feel the same mood about the whole away end…a very subdued mood and it was the same as we walked out of the ground…
Oh yeah we applauded the players as they came over to us and we even sang a bit but there was no real passionate vibe to it…it was chanting by numbers and we felt duty bound…
At the end of this we didn’t lose…against an opposition team that have put us through the ringer in the past. I know it’s not a great deal in the grand scheme of things and it may look a little brighter and better in a couple of days but I have to be really honest here…
This was a return to our old ways where we go through the motions and come away with a dull; dull bore draw thinking that will do. We’ve been spoiled this season and moreso of late but even allowing for this being a one off it’s not really acceptable and the team will need to be convincing against Carlisle if they are to get back the feelgood factor amongst the Wednesday fans and instil some belief before the end of season party. Steve:Beastie
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