COLCHESTER United captain Tommy Smith will be playing 4,000 miles away from the JobServe Community Stadium tonight.

But the U's defender will have his own little piece of Colchester cheering him on when New Zealand take on hosts Bahrain, in an international friendly.

Colchester have a supporters group in Bahrain made up of 12 fans and consisting of three U's supporting families who are based in the Middle Eastern country.

They will be backing Smith en-masse at the Bahrain National Stadium today - and have even offered to buy him dinner should they get the chance!

Long-time Colchester fan Martin Clifton, who will be at the match with family and friends, says they're looking forward to seeing one of the U's players in action on their doorstep.

He said: "We'll be holding up a banner for Tommy Smith to see.

"My daughter who's 13 has been counting the days until the game for the last few weeks and she's really excited.

"I'm sure Tommy is a busy man and has commitments but if he's around after the game, we'd love to buy him a beer or take him out for dinner!

"Even better, if he's around during the day we'd love him to visit the school, as the kids would love to see him!"


Martin has been living in Bahrain for around ten years and is a staunch Colchester fan, along with fellow teacher and U's supporter Ralph Gosling.

The duo and their fellow Colchester fans in the country watch every U's game from Bahrain, courtesy of a live stream.

Marting said: "Ralph and I have been to loads of Colchester United games going back to the 1990s, including Wembley trips.

"It was an absolute complete coincidence that we both supported Colchester United and we had no idea - it was hilarious!

"Funnily enough, the first year there they were doing Secret Santa and one of the clues about this lad was that he was a Colchester United fan.

"Straight away, one of the lads from school said 'it's got to be Martin' but it wasn't, it was Ralph!


"Our little Colchester supporters club here is a fairly unofficial one - it's just us getting together to watch the matches, sharing stories on the U's and catching up on what we're up to.

"Funnily enough, we've never managed to all get back to watch Colchester at the same time.

"The good thing is that we can watch every Colchester game on telly here, so we're absolutely made up.

"We've been doing that for the last three or four years now, so we've been able to watch almost every game.

"The last time we were at was Manchester United at Old Trafford - after that, Covid stopped us coming over.

"Connor my son has just started at Essex Uni and it's his job to drag some of the University lads to the Community Stadium.

"He was at the Salford game, last weekend."


Martin has been supporting Colchester since the days of Cyril Lea as manager, back in the mid-1980s.

His uncle used to take him to games from Mersea to Layer Road, on the back of his motorbike.

He added: "Stuart Hicks is one of my favourite players of all time - he never stopped running up and down and we loved him.

"Mark Kinsella is my all-time favourite - he was one of the most talented players I ever saw.

"It's going to be a tough season, a long season I think but the lads are doing their best.

"You do worry where the goals are coming from and it's the same thing in any league - where are you going to find some goals.

"Losing Callum Harriott and Jevani Brown from last year is worrying and we need some goals from somewhere.

"But they'll come and I'm not too worried."

New Zealand's game against Bahrain kicks off at 5pm tonight, UK time.