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Letters from Wiltshire #09
by wessex_exile at 14:17 17 Oct 2020

There’s enough doom and gloom about concerning the coronavirus pandemic to last several lifetimes, and let’s face it, 2020 really does suck. I’m pretty sure we’re all in need of some positivity right now, something to set our sights on, a goal if you will. Mine came to me in a blinding flash of inspiration as I prepared my wake-up mug of caffeine this morning – never, in all my years of following Colchester United, have I got even close to watching every single match of a season. I suspect I’m not alone in that, even diehards like noah must miss the occasional one or two each season. Kind of thanks to coronavirus (bizarre huh) and the relaxed approach to match streaming on Saturdays, I’m currently on 8/8, today being the 9th. Why not, I thought, make it all season without missing a game? There’s a lot of ifs, buts and maybes in that, not least if we do emerge from this crisis before the end of the season and the streaming gets canned, but for now I have my goal…
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Letters from Wiltshire #08
by wessex_exile at 13:13 10 Oct 2020

Lots of discussion this week on football forums, including here, on two subjects – the petition to lobby parliament to allow limited numbers of supporters back into football grounds, and of course the return of that old chestnut from Man City Chief Executive Ferran Soriano, introducing Premier League ‘B’ teams into the EFL. First off, I don’t mind admitting I’ve signed the petition ( https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/552036 ), as have 192,779 others at the time of writing, though I don’t actually think it’ll make any difference. I can completely understand why some do not think this is a good idea, as second-wave spikes of coronavirus infection pop up all over the country (mainly because – let’s face it – some people are dicks and can’t be trusted to sit the right way on a toilet). But to me, the two go hand in hand (not dicks and toilets) – whilst football clubs throughout the country struggle financially without spectators, we are always going to be under threat of this sort of ‘B’ team nonsense as a condition of financial support from the Premier League fat cats. They got their way in 2016 with the EFL trophy, who’s to say they won’t again when the financial squeeze really starts to tighten its grip without paying customers through the turnstiles? Robbie has featured prominently in this debate in recent weeks, and looks like he will again on Sky tomorrow if this tweet from Sophy Ridge is anything to go by -
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Letters from Wiltshire #07
by wessex_exile at 14:26 3 Oct 2020

Welcome to Matchday #4 everyone, with the U’s making a reasonably solid start to the league campaign, undefeated, two clean sheets, only one goal conceded and sitting comfortably just outside the play-offs. I’d probably feel more comfortable if we were scoring a few more at the other end, so it’s good to see Chuck getting back into action. The big news that’s grabbing most of the column inches now is of course that President Trump is in hospital with coronavirus. Now there are many out there in the social media world who consider this somewhat poetic irony, given his (mixed) messaging on the subject since the crisis began, and there are more than a few wishing that it ends very badly for Trump. I’m not one of them, but I was reminded this morning of a famous quote “I have never killed anyone, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction”. Often misattributed to Mark Twain, it was Clarence Darrow in his 1932 work The Story of My Life. For those, like me, who consider Inherit the Wind probably the best courtroom drama ever made, Darrow was the lawyer in the real Scopes Monkey Trial.
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Letters from Wiltshire #06
by wessex_exile at 17:41 29 Sep 2020

Here we are again, back in the (now) much-maligned EFL Trophy and a home tie against West Ham United U21s, and I think probably our last chance to stay in the competition? Robbie’s most recent rallying cry has been to “buy, buy, buy” when it comes to iFollow streams, and with the likelihood of supporters getting to matches receding, making streaming probably our only viable revenue stream, who can blame him. As an exile, I was never expecting I’d have many opportunities to see the U’s in the flesh this season, so he’s rather preaching to the converted as far as I’m concerned, but I do like the loyalty scheme he’s put together.
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Letters from Wiltshire #05
by wessex_exile at 13:46 26 Sep 2020

Matchday #3, and Robbie’s not happy. I know opinion is divided, but I have considerable sympathy with the Chairman on this one. I don’t want this to be necessarily a political comment, but many are looking on with bemusement as the government seem to lurch from one knee-jerk reaction to another during this crisis, and I would be saying this of any government, regardless of their political persuasion. The nub of Robbie’s comments is quite simple, what’s the point in having a panel of experts working closely with responsible club owners to plan supporter’s safe return to essentially open air stadia, investing in alterations, changes to layout, developing detailed procedures etc. to then have the rug pulled out from under their feet? I know why, a second wave seems to be coming, and frankly it looks like people simply can’t be trusted to follow the rules – but why then are pubs still open, or does the virus only come out after 10pm?
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Letters from Wiltshire #04
by wessex_exile at 16:14 18 Sep 2020

After last weeks’ solid point away against Bradford City, tipped by many to be strong promotion contenders, we now face another stern test against fallen giants Bolton Wanderers. Okay, giants may be stretching it a tad, but these guys have won the FA Cup four times, the League Cup twice, and the Charity Shield and Football League (Sherpa Van) Trophy once apiece. Christ, they were in the Premier League just eight years ago. But, they are where they are for a reason, and Saturday is all about 11 v 11, literally on a level playing field…
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Letters from Wiltshire #03
by wessex_exile at 12:47 12 Sep 2020

So here we are, the drôle de guerre is over, the real battle is about to begin. Can we take any positives from the opening exchanges so far? I think so, the style is good, albeit Noah is right that the work in the final third needs considerable improvement if we are going to capitalise on our tippy-tappy triangles in midfield. But we’ve played some decent sides, far better sides than we should expect to face in League 2, and we haven’t been beaten out of sight yet, so let’s see what today brings against a side I think will be there or thereabouts come May next year.
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Letters from Wiltshire #02
by wessex_exile at 13:27 8 Sep 2020

Three days on from our early Carabao Cup exit at the Madjeski, we prepare to start the next cup competition at Fratton Park – at least we can’t be out of this one by full-time – well, not tonight anyway. For those that gain perverse pleasure from such things, had we prevailed against Reading, only Luton Town would have stood between us and another match against Manchester United! Of course, we wouldn’t have done, because we’d be in a completely different strand of reality, and thus a completely different cup draw, but no harm in a bit of Whatiffery.
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Letters from Wiltshire #01
by wessex_exile at 14:41 5 Sep 2020

Here we are then, at the start of a new season, curiously this time already well into September. I plan to continue (time permitting) writing blogs for each matchday, but with the season already considerably compressed, and matches as a result coming thick and fast, my apologies in advance if I don’t make it for every single game.
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Matches of Yesteryear - Cardiff v U's 11/4/98
by wessex_exile at 13:51 21 Jun 2020

Here we are then, after a reasonably solid but distinctly dull semi-final first leg lit up by a moment of sheer brilliance by Bramall, just one match away from a socially distanced Wembley play-off final. We may have a slight advantage, but there is of course still much to do, and I can’t imagine for a moment that Exeter will be that shot-shy again at t’other St James’ Park. It’s all about the result though, performance is irrelevant, so I’ll take an even duller 0-0 every day of the week and twice on Sundays. I hope you’re all keeping safe and well, and for those of you blessed with progeny – Happy Father’s Day!
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Matches of Yesteryear - Reading v U's 11/11/2000
by wessex_exile at 10:49 18 Jun 2020

So, after months of uncertainty, here we finally are at the start of a well-deserved play-off campaign. I say well-deserved, though in truth the play-offs ought to have been our minimum aspiration back in August. But sometimes life throws you a curve ball – no one could have predicted back then what the world was going to become, that hundreds of thousands would perish, and that most clubs today are probably fighting for their very existence. In fact, as already mentioned by MFB and Durham, no one could have predicted that were it not for a stirring 3-0 victory at Carlisle in our last match back in March, we wouldn’t have even been in the play-offs. During lockdown, I have been reassured by the honest and stateman-like announcements from our Chairman keeping us all updated, and never more grateful that we have him looking after the club.
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Matches of Yesteryear - Millwall v U's 14/4/99
by wessex_exile at 14:25 25 Apr 2020

And so here we are, at what would have been the last match of the domestic season, at home to FGR, and almost certainly still in with a shout of making the play-offs – maybe even already guaranteed by now. As I look out this morning, it’s a beautiful sunny day, and I would almost certainly already be on the first leg of a train journey to be amongst the faithful at the Jobserve Community Stadium. Given the location of our opponents, I’d probably be sharing the journey with a few hundred FGR supporters too, but they’ve always been a friendly bunch whenever I’ve met them, so I wouldn’t have been too concerned about that. Instead, we sit and wait to see how and when the season may (or may not) finish – strange times indeed…
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Matches of Yesteryear - U's v Accrington Stanley 13/1/04
by wessex_exile at 13:33 18 Apr 2020

Happy Saturday everyone…well, less of the happy actually, with rain falling freely since yesterday afternoon. Still, good weather to be in lockdown for, takes away that feeling that you might be missing out on some quality time outside. In an open letter yesterday to all supporters of EFL clubs, chairman Rick Parry stated “…with or without spectators, delivering a successful conclusion to the 2019/20 season remains our goal to ensure the integrity of our competitions”. If that can be achieved, it appears almost certain these will be matches behind closed doors, streamed live to all supporters – which inevitably will break the long-held Saturday 3pm blackout for televised matches. We all know why that blackout was in place, but this is a difficult time, and it requires an innovative solution.
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Matches of Yesteryear - Swansea v U's 7/3/06
by wessex_exile at 15:00 13 Apr 2020

Good afternoon everyone, I sincerely hope you’re all doing well, and hopefully not going too cabin-feverish! Today would have been a home match against Oldham Athletic, and after our surely guaranteed epic 3-2 victory at Sixfields on Good Friday, it would be just one more victory needed to guarantee a play-off place…think I might have been out in the sun a bit too much over the last few days 😊
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Matches of Yesteryear - Yeovil v U's 30/9/17
by wessex_exile at 13:53 10 Apr 2020

Good afternoon everyone, and first and foremost I must take the opportunity to wish you all a happy, healthy and most of all chocolicious Bank Holiday Easter weekend. This morning I should have been waking up in Langenhoe with all the kids, probably slightly muzzy-headed after my cousin’s wedding yesterday, and preparing for the journey home via Sixfields to watch the U’s bolster their promotion hopes. Needless to say, first the EFL, and then the wedding had to be postponed, so here I am still in North Wilts, though what a beautiful day it is!
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Matches of Yesteryear - U's v Swans 3/4/01
by wessex_exile at 13:14 4 Apr 2020

Good afternoon everyone, North Wilts calling. We’ve all no doubt heard (and used) variations of the expression “strange times we’re going through” during this crisis. They certainly are, and without a doubt the term crisis is apt, with deaths and positive tests seemingly rising almost exponentially at the moment. But we’ll get through this, and when we do, I firmly believe as a society we’ll be better for it. We’ll be a society better connected to our family, friends and neighbours, and more caring for those that need support. More so, we'll be a society in tune with the concept that we don’t have to burn fossil fuels to conduct business, we do have the technology available to avoid it, we’ll all be pretty adept at using it, and will all be far more comfortable with using it. It's an ill wind...
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Matches of Yesteryear - U's v Macclesfield 4/4/92
by wessex_exile at 14:33 28 Mar 2020

Good afternoon everyone, I sincerely hope you are all doing well? Today would have been a vital home match against Mansfield, struggling at the wrong end of the league this time after a couple of seasons flattering to deceive at the sharp end. Since the last blog, we now know that all football below the National League is cancelled, and the season expunged from records. A tough break for the likes of Jersey Bulls in the Combined Counties League Division 1, who had won all of their 27 matches and already promoted, but then these are very strange times indeed. I sincerely hope the EFL season can be completed somehow, but I’m increasingly pessimistic about whether it will be.
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Matches of Yesteryear - Wycombe v U's 6/3/99
by wessex_exile at 14:44 21 Mar 2020

Here we are again, so greetings to all you social distancers and self-isolationists, I sincerely hope you are all well. This would have been our third fixture since the suspension of all football in the UK, and with more and more measures being implemented by the government to minimise social gatherings, including extending the football league break until at least the end of April, one wonders whether we’ll ever finish this season? There have been numerous measures announced, including £50m from the EFL, to minimise the financial burden on us smaller clubs, but Robbie Cowling has gone on record stating that “…to really survive and go forward there is going to be help needed from the Premier League or elsewhere” – quite right Robbie.
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Matches of Yesteryear - U's v Bournemouth 27/4/99
by wessex_exile at 19:50 17 Mar 2020

Tonight would have been our home fixture against table-toppers Crewe, and a chance to avenge the draw at Gresty Rd which really should have been a victory. However, what’s really interesting about it for me is that myself and probably a considerable number of you out there would have been watching it on i-Follow – exactly what our chairman suggested should have been the first option the EFL considered before deciding to postpone league fixtures. Ho hum, wonder how we would have got on…
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Matches of Yesteryear - U's v Yeovil 15/8/09
by wessex_exile at 15:04 14 Mar 2020

…and so we enter the start of the coronavirus-enforced football league postponement period for 2019/20. As things stand, we will emerge on 4th April away at Bradford City, with nine fixtures (some teams, including Swindon, Crewe and FGR have ten) still to complete over the following 21 days, though I’m sure the end of the season could be extended if needs be. Whether we do restart on 4th April only time will tell.
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