TOM Eastman’s long association with Colchester United will come to an end this summer, following his release by the club.

The reliable defender has been a fans’ favourite at the JobServe Community Stadium, clocking up more than 450 appearances for the U’s over a 12-year period.

In part one of our interview with Eastman, the long-serving defender talks about leaving Colchester, his relationship with the fans and some of the many highlights of his time at the club.

ALL good things must come to an end.

And Tom Eastman is typically philosophical about his departure from Colchester United, after 12 years and 464 appearances for the club.

The 31-year-old is destined for pastures new next season, after he was released by the club he has served with such distinction, over such a long period of time.

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The popular defender leaves as one of the U's highest-ever appearance makers, with four Player of the Year awards under his belt and a legacy that will last a lifetime.

“I’ve had a great time there,” said Eastman, as he reflected on his long spell at Colchester which started back in the summer of 2011 when he was signed by John Ward from neighbours, Ipswich Town.


“I’ve been there for 12 years and played in some really good teams, with some really good players.

“I’ve had a really good connection with the fans and a great relationship with them, over the years.

“It’s obviously a bit disappointing to not be there anymore but I suppose that’s a part of football.

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“I’ve had 12 good years there and maybe it was time for a change.

“My aim was always to stay at Colchester for as long as I can.

“The way it panned out this year, going out on loan, I kind of sensed that maybe a change was coming.

“It’s just a part of football and I’ve had a great time there.

“It’s my local team and it’s been ideal for both parties, over the years.


“A lot of players have left and it’s does seem like it’s going to be a fresh new change for the club.

“They obviously brought in quite a few players in January as well and from my time there, there’s not many left that I know too well!”

Eastman, who spent the second half of this season on loan at Harrogate Town, leaves Colchester as their seventh highest-appearance maker of all time.

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His longevity at one football club is a rarity in modern-day football, where professionals are much more transient and rarely remain at one club for longer than a few years, if that.

“There’s not many players who get to that amount of games, for one club,” admits Eastman, whose final appearance for Colchester proved to be their defeat at Sutton United, last December.

“There’s obviously something that I’ve been doing right over the years, for all of these different managers to keep picking me.


“Every player wants to be playing football and I’ve managed to do that the majority of the time, over the years.

“Also, the relationship with the fans has been massive – they’ve really taken to me.

“My mum and dad send me all of these pictures and stories people are writing about me and how much they appreciate me.

“It goes both ways and I’ve had a great relationship with them, over the years.”

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Eastman has had his fair share of central defensive partners at Colchester, during his long association with the club.

The reliable defender has developed some strong alliances at the heart of the U’s back four, in his long career at the JobServe Community Stadium.

“I’ve had a lot of really good partners, in central defence,” said Eastman.

“To name a couple, there’s Luke Prosser and Magnus Okuonghae.

“They’re two of the many that I’ve enjoyed playing alongside.

Gazette: Tom Eastman

“Magnus in the early days really helped me into the team and helped me get through quite a few games, especially when I was quite young and trying to make a name for myself.

“There’s Frankie Kent as well, who I enjoyed playing alongside and formed a really good partnership with.”

Eastman’s main role was keeping the ball out of the Colchester net.

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But he still hit the net 25 times during his time at the U’s – with one goal in particular standing out.

Eastman’s header in Colchester’s 2-0 win at Carlisle United on the final day of the 2012-13 season ultimately helped to keep the club in League One.

“The Carlisle goal is one that sticks to mind, to keep us up,” said Clacton-based Eastman.

“The Tottenham win at home with the penalties and going up to Old Trafford, in what was a really good time for the club.


“I really enjoyed being part of that team under John McGreal and we had really good fun, that season.

“It was a shame we couldn’t up in the play-offs but that year was probably one of my highlights.

“That was probably one of the best Colchester teams that I played in.

“Obviously in the early days in League One especially, we’ve had some really good players.

“There’s a few that have gone higher like Szmods for example, doing really well in the Championship.”

In part two of our interview with Tom Eastman, the defender talks about his time at Harrogate Town, the possibility of a U's testimonial and what the future holds for him, post Colchester United