HUNDREDS of families turned out to meet their heroes ahead of the start of the new Colchester United season.

The club’s annual open day saw little ones take part in free training sessions with players and they were even invited to join in this season’s team photo.

Before they took to the training pitch themselves, fans were able to watch the team prepare for a pre-season friendly against Ipswich on Wednesday at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

Organisations, charities and companies from across the borough were also on hand to tell fans about their work.

Crowds were also treated to a performance from cheerleading group, the HRC All Stars, before players spent nearly an hour signing autographs.

Goalkeeper Sam Walker tweeted: “Great to see so many fans today at the open day.

“Especially the young kids! A real sense of togetherness about the place. Roll on Aug 9th!”

Attacker Sanchez Watt, wrote: “GoodVibes. Nice meeting you fans today! #Colu.”

Fans Matthew Baldwin and Sam Styles also took to the social networking site.

Mr Baldwin said: “That's why I support my local team.

£Really good open day learnt a lot about the club as well. Cheers @ColU_Official #supportyourtown.”

Miss Styles added: “Had the best day at @ColU_Official #ColU Open Day.”

A spokesman for the club said: “This is the fifth open day we have held and it keeps getting better.

“Manager Joe Dunne has spoken about the need for a bond between players and fans and I think that’s starting early this year.”

The event took place yesterday.