Colchester United are a classic example of a Football League side who spend their time exclusively in the lower two divisions. That’s not a criticism, by the way. And there have, of course, been exceptions; notably when they spent a couple of years in the Conference in the early 1990s – and two years in the second tier more recently. So, you could argue that – much like us – the Us are Conference graduates. But you’d expect them to be with 40 years of Football League membership behind them.
That experience didn’t exactly work out for them too well when we first met. Boro’ didn’t even have 40 years of any membership to their name when we were promoted to League Two. Our fans who made the trip over to their gaff on Boxing Day 2011 were rewarded with a 6-1 win (with six different scorers). Not expected and, so far, not repeated. It should also be pointed out the Us certainly had their moments against us in the years that followed. In fact, we were waiting 10(!) further meetings to get the better of them for a second time.
Colchester United: The Facts
Weston Homes Community Stadium
United Way, Colchester, Essex, CO4 5UP
In the grand scheme of things, you can argue that Colchester United are the Essex town’s second football team. The Us were formed in 1937, at which time there was already a Colchester Town about the place. But the team known as Town weren’t very good. And many thought that it should go professional in order to become a bit better. The club’s top brass said no – so there was a split and the Us came into being. It got worse for Town too; United picking up the best of the other side’s players and playing a higher standard of football.
In 1938, Colchester Town folded.
In 1939, Colchester United were Southern League champions.
So, the split was vindicated and the Us were up and running. In the years after World War Two, they got their biggest break yet too; election to the Football League and a place in Division Three South. A 1958 reorganisation of the lower divisions saw the club put into Division Three – but they lasted just three years before plunging into Division Four. It’s a common theme of the 1960s and 1970s that you’d see the Us swapping between Divisions Three and Four.
It all went a bit Pete Tong in 1990, however. The Us mis-calibrated their yo-yoing and ended up disappearing out the wrong end of Division Four. For the first time in a long time, they found themselves in the non-league hinterlands. It’s a short-lived tale, to be fair. After coming a close second to Barnet in 1991, the next season saw them go one better; pipping Wycombe Wanderers to the title on goal difference. As was the case back in those days, only one team was able to squeeze through into the Football League. So, the Chairboys had to wait. It was the Us time!
Oh, they also won the FA Trophy to claim the non-league double.
Why do we know the Us?
Back in the Football League, the Us wouldn’t make the same mistake again. And their time in the Conference came a good four years before we made it to that level. So, the story continues some more. It’d take six years until they were able to return to the third tier. It was very much a case of ‘slow and steady wins the race’ at this point though. It’s the approach that also saw them promoted to the Championship at the end of the 2005-6 campaign. But their time up in the second tier lasted just two years; returning to League One in 2008 and staying there until we joined them in 2011.
Colchester United Travel Information – Distance: 59 miles
If you’re travelling by car to Colchester, there are two ways that you can do it; one that involves using the M25 and the other is a more direct, cross-country route. Colchester United also advises the use of the CO4 5JS postcode on satnavs, rather than its postal address.
For the motorway option, take the southbound A1(M) and the clockwise M25 for the Dartford Crossing. At Junction 28, exit for the northeast-bound A12 towards Brentwood and Chelmsford and continue along for nearly 40 miles. Leave the A12 at Junction 28.
Turn right at the roundabout after leaving the A12 and then straight over the next one. After about 0.2 miles, take the third exit onto United Way and continue until the stadium entrance appears on the right.
From Stevenage, head towards Ware on the A602 and continue until you reach the junction with the A10. Here, take the northbound carriageway for about five miles; the roundabout for the A120 at Standon. Take the third exit for Bishop’s Stortford/Stansted.
Continue on the A120 around the Bishop’s Stortford bypass and cross the M11, following signs for Colchester/Braintree. Again, remain on the A120 as you skirt round Braintree for about 10 miles, before merging with the northeast-bound A12. After six miles, you’ll reach the exit as above.
As a newer stadium, there’s plenty of parking; spaces costing a few quid for the pleasure, with around 700 on offer. Get there in plenty of time, therefore. If full, you have the option of an £8 stay in the nearby industrial estate. But you might get the odd business offering it cheaper than that.
Services to: LONDON LIVERPOOL STREET
Colchester rail station looks to be the closest to the ground. But it’s not saying much. At two miles, you may prefer to taxi/bus the route. Walk only if you feel brave enough. Mind you, there is a shuttle bus service available.
Starting by turning left and then right to get to the large roundabout and take the exit straight ahead for Mile End Road/A134. After a mile, continue onto Nayland Road and then take the third exit at the roundabout for Boxted Road. After 0.4 miles, turn right onto United Way and you’ll now be in the right area for the stadium.
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