IT’S November 2006, the day before Bonfire Night.

As darkness descends around Layer Road, fireworks begin to light up the night sky.

And while that is happening, an appropriately-named individual illuminates the pitch.

He had already been making a name for himself at Colchester United and had netted twice that season but this was the day that Jamie Guy really announced himself in the Championship.

With the U’s game with table toppers Cardiff City finely-balanced at 1-1, the powerful 19-year-old was sent on by Geraint ‘George’ Williams as a 76th-minute substitute for Chris Iwelumo.

Within eight minutes, Guy had fired in Kem Izzet’s cross to restore the U’s lead.

And six minutes later, the forward was a thorn in the Bluebirds’ side again after supplying the pass that led to Ritchie Jones being brought down by Stephen McPhail in the area.

Jamie Cureton slotted away the resultant penalty, registering one more goal towards his Golden Boot tally that season but all of the post-match talk was about Guy’s impact.

“The Cardiff game really stands out for me,” said Guy, as he reflected on his eventful football career.

“They were sitting top of the league and they had a few big names in the side.

“They came to Layer Road and we beat them 3-1.

“I came on at 1-1 and scored our second and then put the ball through for the third, which we got the penalty from that Curo scored.

“Darren Purse was playing at the back for Cardiff that day and he’s had a very good career.

“He was known for being a tough defender but I remember him ending up on his backside when I scored my goal!

“I’m not taking anything away from him because he was a top pro but it was great to do that against the likes of him.

“There are so many other great memories too though, like getting through to the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup, with us beating Chelsea and me scoring the winner.”

Guy had emerged through the youth ranks at Colchester, turning professional in 2004.

Phil Parkinson handed the striker his senior debut against Blackpool in February, 2005, sending him on as a substitute for Sam Stockley.

But it was under Williams in the Championship that Guy really made an impact.

Guy made 34 league and cup appearances in Colchester’s historic maiden season in the second tier, scoring three times.

He played his part in helping the U’s achieve what remains their highest-ever finish, as they ended up in tenth spot.

Guy said: “The first season we had in the Championship was unbelievable, really.

“There were some great players there like Jamie Cureton, Richard Garcia and Greg Halford, a lot of players who had very good careers.

“Richard went on to play in the World Cup for Australia and start against Germany.

“It was a pleasure to play with those players and they were good times.

“A lot of those players at the time weren’t even that young – although Curo is still playing now, I think!

“The good thing about that side is that everyone got on well.

“It was a good atmosphere – obviously, it’s going to be a good atmosphere when you’re winning.

“But for me personally, that season came out of the blue really.

“I’d spent the back end of the previous season on loan at Cambridge, done quite well there and then gone back to Colchester pre-season and was involved and it stayed that way.

“I owe a lot to George Williams, for the opportunities he gave me - he always believed in me.

“He used to take the reserves when I was a kid and I always used to play and score goals for him.

“We got relegated from the Championship and then I went on loan to Oxford but during that time George got sacked and to this day, I’ve never seen him again.”

The vast majority of Guy’s appearances for Colchester were off the bench.

He became something of a super subs, the youngster’s bustling style proving particularly effective against tiring defences.

“People used to get a little bit excited when I came on,” said Guy.

“I used to go for a warm up on the touchline at Layer Road and there was a little bit of a buzz.”

Colchester’s second season in the Championship was sadly less successful, as they were relegated back to League One.

Guy made 12 appearances in that 2007-08 campaign, where he was a team-mate of former Manchester United, Spurs and England striker Teddy Sheringham.

The veteran forward had joined the U’s in the summer of 2007 from West Ham United – the team Guy supports.

“I remember as a kid, the first major tournament I can remember was Euro 96,” said Guy.

“That was when I really got into football and it’s still the best England squad I’ve ever seen.

“I must have been about seven or eight at the time and I remember seeing Teddy playing in that side, so if you’d have told me then that I’d be playing with him – well, you can’t write stuff like that, it’s crazy.

“I can’t even describe it – it’s unreal.

“Teddy always wanted to help the lads.

“He was a genuinely really nice bloke.

“He was just the same as everyone else – he’d say to me after a first team or reserve-team game ‘do you think I did alright today?

“He wasn’t big time or anything like that – he was the same as anyone else and really down to earth.

“You can’t help but learn from someone like that.

“I think he was 42 but in training, he was still doing things where everyone would stop and just clap.

“He would see things that other players would probably not see and he would have players in awe on the training pitch.”

Guy’s opportunities at Colchester were limited after that.

At the start of the 2008-09 campaign, the U’s first back in the third tier, Guy went out on loan to Oxford United where he played under some familiar names – including current Premier League boss Chris Wilder.

“Darren Patterson was the manager when I went to Oxford but he got the sack and Jim Smith took over, for a few games,” said Guy.

“It was good to play for the Bald Eagle.

“Chris Wilder then got the job and he pulled me and said ‘I’m looking forward to working with you’.

“He’s gone on to do some really good things and he was a nice guy – I never had a bad word to say about him but I was only around him for a few weeks.

“He’s done well everywhere he’s been but to do that with Sheffield United in the Premier League was unbelievable.

“A week after he took over at Oxford, he pulled me in and said ‘Colchester have called and they want you back’.

“I think they had a few injuries or something but I went back there under Paul Lambert.

“I was involved for a little while there and then I went back out on loan to Dagenham and Redbridge.”

Guy was recalled from loan by Colchester in January, 2009, making four appearances under Paul Lambert.

The striker’s last Colchester appearance came under Aidy Boothroyd in their 1-1 draw at Swindon Town in September, 200 and he left the club by mutual consent in January, 2010.

A brief stint for Grays Athletic followed before a switch to Braintree Town, where Guy really hit the ground running.

The forward was in prolific form for the Iron, helping them on the way to a National League South promotion – only for a horrific injury to halt his momentum.

Guy suffered a double open fractured leg and broke a tibia and fibula at Eastleigh in February 2011, an injury that was described by then Braintree boss Rod Stringer as the worst he’d ever seen and one that left the striker sidelined for nine months.

Guy said: “We were sitting top of the league – I think we were 20-plus points clear in the February but then I broke my leg at Eastleigh and then that was it really.

“The league ended up going down to the last game of the season and the manager at the time said to me ‘we just couldn’t replace you’ and it nearly came down to us not getting promoted.

“I knew I probably wasn’t going to play at the top level again.

“I was told that I wouldn’t walk properly again.

“I had to have five operations in five days – I nearly lost my leg from the knee down.

“I didn’t really know that myself until four or five months afterwards, because people didn’t really want to tell me and it’s not a nice thing to hear.

“It was horrible – I had to spend three months in bed and I went from being such an active person to not being able to do anything was horrible and it was a stressful time.”

A benefit match between Colchester and Braintree took place in July, 2011 and Guy eventually overcame the injury to resume his playing career, in the non-league.

The striker went on to play for the likes of Witham Town, Heybridge Swifts, Maldon and Tiptree, Stanway Rovers and Holland FC.

Over recent years, he has been playing in the Colchester and District Sunday League, where he helped Marquis FC to great success alongside some other familiar U’s faces.

“I was part of the Marquis side that won the treble and that’s another side I had a great time with, to be honest,” said Guy, who most recently has been playing for Priory Sports.

“Adam Bailey-Dennis was joint manager there with Paul Bugg and the likes of Kevin McLeod and Liam Bailey were also involved.

“It was a very, very good side and the other lads involved were of a good standard of player.

“One thing I’ve pretty much always done is scored goals.

“It was difficult and I couldn’t imagine not playing football.

“As long as I’m playing and scoring goals, there’s nothing better for me.

“I’m 33 now and I’ve got a metal rod in my leg and four pins – it’s a struggle now, to be honest.

“I’ve got my coaching badges but it’s about having the right opportunity really.

“I’ve got my boys – they’re 12, six and two and they’re getting to the age where they’re going to start playing I think.”

Whatever happens in the future, Guy can look back on an exciting playing career – with those days playing for Colchester in the Championship particularly memorable.

In total, he made 59 appearances for the U’s, scoring three times.

“As people know, I had a few problems off the field when I was younger and so on but when I first started playing at Colchester, there was probably no limit to what I could have done,” said Guy, who now lives in the Chelmsford area.

“Layer Road and Colchester is obviously a massive part of my life.

“I’m grateful to the club and the supporters and everyone who supported me over the years I was there.

“There’s a long list of people – the likes of Joe Dunne and Adrian Webster who played a massive part in my life.

“I’m still in touch with the likes of Anthony Wordsworth, John White and Kevin McLeod.

“It’s not every day but every now and then we’ll have a chat, a few of the lads.

“Every now and again I’ll go and watch a few of the lads who are still playing.

“It’s painful to drive past Layer Road now and see the houses – it puts a lump in your throat sometimes.

“The first two results I look out for are West Ham and Colchester.

“I left school and went straight into Layer Road, at the age of 15.

“It was a massive part of growing up and learning and it molds you into the sort of person you are.

“You’ll get some people who say ‘he was on the bench a lot’ but I’m not bothered what anyone says – no-one can take that away from me.

“Look at the two forwards I was playing with at the time at Colchester, they finished with more than 40 goals between them that season – that was what I was up against!

“I don’t regret anything – what happens, happens.

“Some things I could have done better, others I couldn’t but it’s football.”