PHIL Parkinson says it was great to be reunited with his Colchester United promotion-winning squad once again.

Parkinson rolled back the years when he took charge of his successful 2005-06 team that won promotion to the Championship at their Southend United counterparts in a charity match for Havens Hospices, on Monday night.

The U’s went up from League One under Parkinson after finishing as runners-up behind champions Southend United, in 2006.

And the current Bolton Wanderers boss says the squad had the right balance of qualities to be successful.

Parkinson told the Gazette: “It was a very good team – it was a team full of character and good, honest lads as well.

“You need that in a dressing room to be successful.

“You need the quality, of course but you also need personality and character and that team had it in abundance.

“When you look at it, we had a good balance of young lads like the home-grown ones such as Garry Richards, John White, Dean Gerken and Greg Halford.

“Coupled with that, we had the experienced players such as Doogie (Karl Duguid) and Kemi (Izzet) who had been around the club for a long time.

“Equally, the ones we brought in like Kev Watson and Chris Iwelumo brought experience in the team as well, along with Aidan Davison in goal.

“We had a nice balance of youngsters and I always think that in a club, your senior players have to be good pros with good character, to set an example to those young players.

“That’s what they did and a lot of those younger players in the squad went on to have terrific careers and I’ve watched them with great interest.

“It was great to be back amongst the lads.”

Colchester was Parkinson’s first in management after he took over from Steve Whitton in the Layer Road hot seat in February, 2003.

“It was good to see Gareth Williams because my first-ever game as a manager was against Port Vale at home and Gareth got a hat-trick,” said Parkinson, who left Colchester to take over at Hull City in the summer of 2006.

“That’s still one of my favourite games.”

The U’s charity game against Southend raised nearly £12,000 for Havens Hospices, in front of a crowd of 1,650.

Parkinson was joined in the dugout on the night by former U’s player and coach Brian Owen and physio Stuart Ayles.

Colchester ran out 6-3 winners on the night, thanks to a hat-trick from Neil Danns, a double from Craig Fagan and another strike from Mark Yeates.

“They were two very, very good teams and it was good for the area that both teams went up,” added Parkinson.

“There was a special rivalry between us and Southend United, that year.

“There was already the local rivalry between the two clubs and we had some tough games against them.

“You tend to forget what a good team they had.

“They had the likes of Freddy Eastwood, who was very good and an outstanding striker and went on to prove it at a higher level.”