A HOST of colourful characters have managed Colchester United since its formation, in 1937.

From the U's first-ever manager - Edwin 'Ted' Davis to current incumbent John McGreal, the club have had an array of different bosses over the years.

In part one of a Gazette article first published in January, 2008, former Gazette Sports Writer Francis Ponder outline the history of the club's full-time managers up until 1988.

EDWIN 'TED' DAVIS (June 1937-September 1939)

EX-HUDDERSFIELD Town and Blackburn Rovers player Davis took over at Colchester after a ten-year spell with fellow Southern League outfit Bath City.

Davis was busy planning for his third season at Layer Road when the Second World War broke out in 1939, thus ending his reign.

SYD FIELDUS OBE (June 1945-April 1946)

ON the resumption of football after the war Fieldus took over the U's secretary-manager's reins for a year, having already enjoyed two pre-war seasons as a part-time professional player.

TED FENTON (April 1946-June 1948)

THE first of two brothers to manage the club, Fenton took over as player-boss, having previously played at centre-half for Colchester Town in 1930-31 while an amateur on West Ham's books.

He was instrumental in plotting the U's epic 1947-48 FA Cup giant-killing run where, as a humble Southern League club, they reached the fifth round before being defeated by eventual finalists Blackpool.

Fenton's exploits didn't go unnoticed and in June 1948 he left to join West Ham where, two years later, he became manager.

JIMMY ALLEN (July 1948-April 1953)

ONE-TIME Portsmouth goalkeeper Allen moved into the U's hotseat as Fenton's replacement and was often at loggerheads with the directors throughout his five-year reign.

Allen did, however, oversee the U's move from the Southern League to the Football League in 1950.

He resigned after another difference of opinion in the spring of '53.

RON MEADES (June 11-15 1953)

WADEBRIDGE boss Meades, who claimed he had played for Cardiff City, was interviewed for the U's job and appointed manager ten days later.

But some disturbing news was unearthed and as a result, the offer to Meades was withdrawn but not before he had signed a contract and chaired a players' meeting, making his four-day stay the shortest managerial reign in the club's history.

JACK BUTLER (June 1953-January 1955)

FORMER Arsenal defender and ex-Leicester City, Belgium and Denmark national coach, Butler moved in from Brussels club Royal Daring de Bruxelles following spells as Torquay United and Crystal Palace manager.

A poor start to the 1954-55 season, having already been forced to seek re-election, caused Butler to suffer a nervous breakdown at Christmas leading to his resignation.

BENNY FENTON (February 1955-November 1963)

TED Fenton's younger brother Benny - then with Charlton Athletic - arrived as player-manager in February 1955.

He set about rebuilding the team following another re-election and after finishing in mid-table in his first full season (1955-56), he guided the U's to the brink of promotion to the original Second Division 12 months later, missing out by just one point behind Ipswich Town and Torquay.

Fenton's U's also took Arsenal, then the top team in the country, to a money-spinning FA Cup fourth-round replay at Highbury, in 1959.

However, a poor 1960-61 campaign saw the U's suffer their first relegation, followed 12 months later by promotion back to Division Three after one of the most exciting goalscoring seasons in the club's history.

Sadly in November 1963, Fenton was coaxed away to manage Second Division club Leyton Orient.

NEIL FRANKLIN (December 1963-May 1968)

ONE of the biggest names in English football, international centre-half Franklin was brought in as Fenton's replacement.

Franklin had previously suffered a suspension and the wrath of the English FA for seeking his fortune in South America with Columbian club Bogata.

His 18-month tenure at Layer Road was not a happy one either and after yo-yoing into and out of the Fourth Division he was sacked.

DICK GRAHAM (June 1968-October 1972)

DICK 'Sergeant Major' Graham remains one of the most popular U's managers of all time.

A master of the unexpected, the giant one-time goalkeeper was light years ahead of his Fourth Division counterparts.

He assembled a collection of experienced 'old heads' and exciting 'young lions' moulding them into a U's team to be feared.

Although promotion eluded him, who will ever forget the 1971 FA Cup triumph over Europe's best, Leeds United - one of the greatest cup giant-killings of all time - and the U's fabulous Watney Cup triumph over West Bromwich Albion just five months later?

Graham's reign came to an acrimonious end in October 1972.

JIM SMITH (October 1972-June 1975)

AN unknown in Football League circles, Boston United boss Smith moved to Layer Road and set about his new task as player-manager with gusto.

Littered with exciting signings - Bobby Svarc and John Froggatt were his first two - Smith wasted no time in bringing Division Three football back to Layer Road, a success story that was to see him head-hunted by Second Division Blackburn Rovers in the summer of 1975.

BOBBY ROBERTS (June 1975-April 1982)

THE U's board had no hesitation in appointing Roberts - brought in by Smith as coach two years earlier - as the new manager.

Roberts experienced a tough time because of a lack of finances and following a couple of relegations and a promotion, his reign also came to an acrimonious end when he was sacked in April 1982.

ALLAN HUNTER (May 1982-January 1983)

APPOINTED as player-coach in May 1982, former Ipswich Town and Northern Ireland stalwart Hunter quickly found that management was not for him.

He resigned after only ten months in charge.

CYRIL LEA (February 1983 - March 1986)

CARETAKER manager Lea, Hunter's coach, was handed the job permanently.

And with little or no cash at his disposal the former Welsh international half-back was generally rated to have worked wonders on a shoestring.

MIKE WALKER (April 1986-November 1987)

GOALKEEPER Walker originally joined the U's as a player in June, 1973.

Named as caretaker-boss after a spell in charge of the reserves, the Welsh under-23 international was appointed manager and promptly instigated some of the most adventurous football seen at Layer Road.

He guided the team to the top of Division Four, winning a coveted Manager of the Month award in October, 1987.

However, on Sunday November 1, he was summoned to a meeting by chairman Jonathan Crisp and amid confusion it became clear Walker had lost his job.

Crisp claimed Walker resigned; Walker insisted he was sacked.

ROGER BROWN (November 1987-October 1988)

ROGER who? That was the cry that came when Brown, with limited experience as a non-league manager, was brought in from Poole Town.

Brown's 11-month reign plummeted from the heights of November Manager of the Month - his first in charge - to a disastrous record 8-0 defeat at Leyton Orient which led to his resignation after the match.

Look out for part two of our U's managers feature, in the coming days.