This time last year Mr Ashton said that players had to be prepared to live within 20 miles of the club. (Presumably this meant new signings. and existing players were not required to move. )
is this requirement still in place? Is it actually enforced? Are there exemptions? Does it put any players off signing? (I mean say you have a partner who works in London and want to live near Chelmsford?, or with kids happy at school in Cambridge.)
(I know at the time there were two schools of thought on this, and for what it's worth I'm basically on the side of 'if you show uo for work (including in this case 'community work') on time, you should be able to live where you like. But I'm just wondering if it's actually still in place.)
(I realise that the man does not have the status in Suffolk that he has in north Essex, but anyway...)
Difficult to know if he's retired, but I guess so, at least from league football. 342 league appearances, about 220 in the Championship, is not shabby at all. But I can't help feeling his best season was his first full one, back in 2006-2007, when he was Colchester's young-player-of-the-year in the first season in the Championship. He's perhaps not the club's greatest ever goalkeeper (Mike Walker, I suppose), but certainly was the goalkeeper in the club's finest ever team. Second time around, he made one horrible howler to gift Exeter a goal in the play-off semi-final two years ago, (when Colchester were a better team than Exeter and look at them now!), but there were also highs, notably the saves in penalty shoot-outs to get the U's past Palace and Spurs and to the quarter finals of the league cup against Man U., just before Covid.
In terms of goal-keeping, I couldn't really tell you what his particular strengths were. A good temperament maybe? Seemed just like a good all-rounder. And I particularly admired his ability to judge that a ball was going wide and not bother moving for it !
As I say, it's not confirmed that he's retired, but his back is crocked and it would be a major surprise to see him in the league again. And as I say, I appreciate that for Town fans he was kind of a bit-part player despite 100-odd appearances, - but down the A12 he'll be forever remembered for the clean sheet at Yeovil that got the U's promoted to the Championship, and for his performances in that first season in the Championship, when he was only 22.
I'm sure we all wish him well with whatever's next.
Following last week’s post about Portman Road, and why nobody would ever want to move, I found out yesterday that football grounds do not all actually fit into these two types.
1. Central, characterful, easy-to-get-to, surrounded by boozers.(e.g. Ipswich) 2. Soulless bowls in a far-off field . (Colchester)
I wen to see Brøndby play. Crowd = 24000. 15 minutes on a commuter train from central Copenhagen and then a good 35-minute walk from the station to the ground, through dull publess suburbs. Thousands and thousands walking , thousands and thousands cycling . ( bikes go free on the train, and there’s plenty of provision for them. There are in fact two stations, both about 30-minutes walk from the ground. The club was founded in the 60s by a Laudrup, and simply got bigger and bigger while never moving. The ground is an impressive, German-style concrete thing, certainly not short of character.
It was particularly spectacular after the game , with so many people starting that long walk ( or cycle) back to the station. No buses to be seen anywhere. An hour after the game ended the railway platform was still packed. It was a 4 pm kick-off, but it must be even stranger after an evening game. So much exercise to support one’s team.
I’d guess there were three thousand bikes parked around the ground . ( I remember in the 8O’ s not being allowed to wheel my bike to lock it outside Portman Road; when I asked what law I was breaking the policeman said (and I quote) ‘don’t be a tit’, which seemed a bit hypocritical , looking at his helmet.)
As a footnote, Jack Wilshere played 75 minutes but I did not realise this till I read a match report.
The death of Ronnie Hellström, the great Swedish goalkeeper, has got people remembering the fine Kaiserslautern team he played for for 10 years from 1974. Their great European years pretty much coincided with the Robson Euro-adventures. They too are now in the third league, - in their case as a result of some spectacular over-spending on star-name players.
Reading a comment by Phil that the team stayed overnight before yesterday’s game, I want to ask a related general question. I’ve wondered before what players do all day if they travel to an evening away game a day early. Do they ‘ train’ somewhere in the morning. If so, where? I remember in the Premier League days away teams used to stay at Stoke by Nayland and use the school playing field to ‘stretch their legs’. Is that how it works in general ? Or do they borrow or rent training facilities from other clubs ( maybe smaller non-league clubs)? Are the arrangements well-established, repeating from season to season?
I saw that Macclesfield took about 700 fans to Northwich Vic. for the Cheshire derby. (Won 4-3) . Got me wondering, what have been the biggest non-league rivalries in E.Anglia? By which I mean, which games have generated big crowds? ('Big' being a relative term of course - I realise that Cheshire and the north west has plenty of fallen 'giants' in the way that Suffolk does not. )