COLCH­ESTER UTD 1997-98

LEAGUE TWO PLAY-OFF WIN­NERS

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Neil Fissler

DAVID GRE­GORY had never taken a penalty be­fore Colch­ester United qual­i­fied for the play-offs hop­ing to make it third time lucky for pro­mo­tion.

The U’s re­turned to the Foot­ball League in 1992 and spent three sea­sons re­build­ing be­fore reach­ing the play-offs in 1996, los­ing in the semi fi­nals to Ply­mouth Ar­gyle.

The sea­son af­ter­wards they reached the Foot­ball League Tro­phy Fi­nal but missed out on the play-offs by a sin­gle point.

Twelve months on they were ready to make a big push and, af­ter miss­ing out on au­to­matic pro­mo­tion on the fi­nal day, they faced Bar­net for the right to play at Wem­b­ley.

Bar­net won the first game at Un­der­hill 1-0 but Colch­ester won the sec­ond leg 3-1 thanks to a dou­ble from Gre­gory, one of which came from the penalty spot, and an­other from David Greene.

In the fi­nal, Gre­gory, now Colch­ester’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager, was called on to take a 22nd minute penalty against Torquay United which he calmly dis­patched and that proved enough to claim pro­mo­tion.

“That semi-fi­nal was the first one I’d ever taken,” he says.“I can­not re­mem­ber if it was Aaron Skelton or Paul Buckle who had taken our pre­vi­ous penalty, but they had missed it.

“I just said ‘I am tak­ing the next one’ and then we didn’t get one un­til we reached the play-off semi fi­nals, but I hadn't for­got­ten and took it.

“It was only on the fi­nal day of the sea­son that we didn’t go up au­to­mat­i­cally. We won the last game at Don­caster but Lin­coln had to lose and they didn’t.

“We were al­ways be­hind Lin­coln so it was in the back of our minds that we were go­ing to be in the play-offs.

“We were were con­fi­dent go­ing into them. We had been to Wem­b­ley the sea­son be­fore and that had been our day out in the sun.When we got to the fi­nal against Torquay we didn’t view it as a sight-see­ing visit.

“We went there for the oc­ca­sion the first time and to do a job the sec­ond time.”

1. Robert Bates: Lives in the Colch­ester area and is work­ing lo­cally.

2. Nicky Hay­don: Dropped into non league foot­ball and even­tu­ally be­came player-as­sis­tant man­ager of Wiven­hoe Town. He is now work­ing in the City of Lon­don.

3. Dave Rain­ford: A mid­fielder who works as a school teacher at Bark­ing Abbey School. His daugh­ter, Molly, was a fi­nal­ist on Bri­tain’s Got Talent in 2012.

4. Gavin Ar­mitage: He is still based in the Colch­ester area and has been the di­rec­tor of a main­te­nance com­pany in Mal­don, Es­sex.

5. Paul Dyer: Lives in Stan­way, and has run a num­ber of pubs in the town. He served 23 years on the U’s back room staff and later scouted for QPR.

6. Richard Wilkins: Mid­fielder who has man­aged Bury Town since 2000 and is head of foot­ball at West Suf­folk Col­lege in the town.

7. Aaron Skelton: Util­ity player lives in Bournemouth and works as a site man­ager for a build­ing com­pany.

8. Steve Forbes: He dropped into non league foot­ball af­ter strug­gling with in­jury prob­lems and his where­abouts are un­known.

9. Gar­rett Cald­well: Amer­i­can­born Cana­dian goal­keeper be­came a teacher and teaches Mid­dle School hu­man­i­ties at Ne­wark Academy in Greater New York City.

10. Mark Sale: Striker who was di­ag­nosed with Hodgkin Lym­phoma, went onto be­come youth team coach at Bur­ton Al­bion and foot­ball de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer for East Stafford­shire Bor­ough Coun­cil.

11. Carl Em­ber­son: Goal­keeper ran his own soc­cer school in Spain un­til be­ing ap­pointed Bris­tol Rovers goal­keep­ing coach. He is now Lu­ton Town’s first team de­vel­op­ment coach.

12. Peter Cawley: De­fender who was as­sis­tant man­ager to Tony Adams at Wy­combe and is now a Lon­don taxi driver.

13. David Gre­gory: Mid­fielder who has been the U’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions & PR of­fi­cer since re­tir­ing through in­jury.

14. Paul Abrahams: The winger had a spell coach­ing at Da­gen­ham & Red­bridge. He is now man­ager of Bran­tham Ath­letic in the East­ern Coun­ties League.

15. Brian Owen: He has been a coach, physio and scout since re­tir­ing from play­ing in 1973 and is the U’s chief scout.

16. Ge­off Har­rop: Academy man­ager at Torquay United af­ter work­ing for Rush­den & Di­a­monds and Northamp­ton Town.

17. Joe Dunne: De­fender stayed on at the club and worked his way up from youth team coach and is now first team man­ager.

18. Tony Ad­cock: For­mer striker is liv­ing in Chelms­ford, Es­sex and is

work­ing for a car deal­er­ship in the town.

19. Si­mon Betts: Liv­ing in the Ip­swich area and has been a po­lice­man for the last five years af­ter work­ing as a builder for a lo­cal com­pany.

20. Tony Lock: Still work­ing and liv­ing in the Es­sex area af­ter fin­ish­ing his ca­reer in non-league foot­ball with Grays Ath­letic.

21. Micky Cook: U’s leg­end be­came com­mu­nity of­fi­cer and then di­rec­tor of youth foot­ball at the club un­til 2004. He is now di­rec­tor of foot­ball at Colne Com­mu­nity Col­lege in Brightlingsea.

22. Steve Wig­nall: Went on to man­age Steve­nage Bor­ough, Don­caster Rovers and Southend. Then be­came a suc­cess­ful property de­vel­oper and now runs his own busi­ness in North Wales.

23. Steve Whit­ton: He man­aged the U’s, then be­came a part­ner in an ink car­tridges busi­ness. He is now in­volved in a property busi­ness in Mar­bella, Spain.

24. Karl Duguid: A de­fender who was ap­pointed player-coach by Joe Dunne and hung up his boots in at the end iof this sea­son.

25. Paul Buckle: Man­aged Torquay , Bris­tol Rovers and Lu­ton. Now lives in the United States where he is tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor of the Met Oval soc­cer com­plex in New York City.

26. Scott Stamps: Back liv­ing in his na­tive West Mid­lands and work­ing around the Smetwick area.

27. Ian Hath­away: He set­tled in An­dover where he has worked as a post­man and also man­aged Hamp­shire Di­vi­sion Two side Broughton.

28. David Greene: Repub­lic of Ire­land U21 in­ter­na­tional is liv­ing in his na­tive Lu­ton and been a chauf­feur with his own busi­ness DMG Lim­ou­sines since 2001.

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