HE has been known as Mr Colchester United to so many, for such a long time.

But Matt Hudson will soon bring the curtain down on his long and memorable time with the U’s.

After 18 and a half years, the club’s Media and Marketing Manager will soon be moving on to pastures new, after agreeing to take over as Head of Marketing at Thrive Tribe and MAN V FAT.

It will bring to a close Matt’s long stint with the U’s where so much has happened and so many people have come and gone.

Indeed, more than 450 matchday programmes, 265 player debuts, ten managers, seven international matches, four concerts, two stadiums and one promotion to the Championship have materialised since he arrived at the club, in 2001.

Incredibly, he has seen more than a quarter of Colchester’s all-time list of players in action during his time at the club.

The 41-year-old’s announcement has been pretty big news on social media, a reflection of the general esteem and respect in which he is held by those connected to Colchester United, past and present.

He has received hundreds of messages of goodwill, hardly surprising given his wide-reaching popularity following his loyal service to the U’s.

Matt said: “It’s been nice to see so many messages from people you’ve come into contact with over the course of doing the job.

“You always like to think that you’ve done a good job but I guess it’s only when something like this happens that these kind of things are said.”

After starting out as the club’s Website Editor, Matt has gone on to serve as their Programme Editor, Media Manager and Supporters Liaison Officer before undertaking his current role in 2015.

But Matt’s impact at the U’s stretches far wider and deeper than job titles; it would be understating his influence and status at the club to limit it just to that, given his tireless work in so many areas.

He has had a big influence in lots of areas and has come a long way since his appointment as the U’s Website Editor, all those years ago.

“I grew up a Colchester United fan so when the opportunity came up in 2001, I felt I should take it,” he said.

“I remember thinking at the time that if I didn’t take it, it might be the case that the person who did get it would end up being there for ten years or more and I wouldn’t have another opportunity – it turned out that I was that person!

“I’ve been very fortunate to have been in football for as long as I have.

“I’m proud of how far the club has come on the non-football side of things over the last ten years or so and what we’ve built.

“It’s frightening to think that we’ve now been in the new stadium for 11 years – it feels like yesterday.

“There’s been so many memorable games over the years but the Yeovil game where we won promotion and the Preston and Carlisle games where we stayed up stand out.

“They’re the kind of games where you end up being more on the fan side of the spectrum than one of an employee!

“The game against Sunderland at Layer Road in the first Championship season stands out, too.

“They were heading for the Premier League at that point but we swept them aside – you look at moments like that at the time and think they may not happen again and that you have to savour them.

“The promotion season was the first time I had been involved in football working with a team in that position and the season after that in the Championship was also very special – it was nice to bloody the nose of a few clubs.”

Matt has also played a big part in Colchester achieving success off the pitch and made a significant contribution to them securing the Football League Family Club of the Year, in 2015.

“That was a standout moment for me,” said the former Colchester Royal Grammar School pupil.

“It was something that we set out to do as a club and it was extremely rewarding to achieve it.

“It was a real statement, as prior to that it was only really Championship clubs that had won it because of the resources that they have available.

“It really showed that it was possible for small clubs to win it, too.

Robbie Cowling and Tim Waddington gave us a lot of support in terms of us striving to win the award and it was very satisfying to do so.”

For a large chunk of Matt’s time at Colchester, he has worked closely alongside the club’s former promotion winner and current Press and Communications Officer, David Gregory.

The duo have formed a strong bond during the years they have worked together and Matt is especially grateful to his friend and colleague.

“I’d like to give a special mention to David,” he said.

“We’ve been working together for 14 years and we’ve become good friends over that time – it’s been fantastic working with him all this time.

“We’ve spent many a Monday morning chewing over what had happened on the matchday, whether it had been a home or away game.

“I’d like to say thanks to him for helping me to do what I think was right for the department.”

So what will Matt miss most about being at the U’s, once he leaves his post next month?

“I think one of the biggest things that I’ll miss is the camaraderie of being around the people at the club on a day to day basis,” he said.

“Being around the players and the staff has been a real privilege.

“It’s going to be sad to leave but my connections with the club will remain and I’ll still be involved with things like the Former Players Association.”

Matt will soon be taking on a new venture, leading the men’s health programme’s national marketing for MAN V FAT, a growing public sector company in London.

He said: “I’m really excited about taking on this new role.

“My roots are in this area so when they came to me earlier in the year it ticked a lot of boxes to stretch me in a role outside of football.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing how it can help me develop as a person.

“It’ll be a bit strange being the new boy again though – I haven’t been that in a long time!”

Matt’s final game in his role will be Colchester’s home clash with Walsall on September 7.

That has a sweet symmetry about it, given that his first game at the U’s back in 2001 was also against the Saddlers.

He added: “It’s funny how things like that happen in football - it has a habit of throwing up these kind of peculiarities!”

There’s sure to be a good send-off that day for a man who has devoted so much of his effort, energy and commitment to the U’s for so many years.