COLE Skuse is looking forward to a bright new future with Colchester United, after joining them from Ipswich Town.

But the experienced midfielder has a vivid connection with the U’s past – and specifically, their former Layer Road home.

Skuse made his senior professional debut as a teenager against Colchester at the venue for Bristol City back in February, 2005.

The 35-year-old appeared as a second-half substitute that day in a 2-0 win for the visitors against a U’s side managed by Phil Parkinson and featuring the likes of Dean Gerken, Kevin Watson and Pat Baldwin.

Skuse says he remembers the day well – and since then has always had a soft spot for the beloved old ground, which Colchester departed to move to the JobServe Community Stadium in 2008.

Skuse said: “I’d travelled a couple of times before with the first-team squad but not been involved.

“We travelled up the day before and the manager at the time Brian Tinnion said ‘look, you’re going to be on the bench tomorrow’ and I was absolutely buzzing and over the moon, ringing people and telling them the news.

“I love old, traditional stadiums and the feel of them but when we got to Layer Road, the manager said to me I’d have to wait outside because there wasn’t enough room for me to get changed!

“I thought ‘wow, this really is a tiny stadium’ but I can remember the atmosphere so vividly.

“The intimidation factor was really strong – it was a great stadium to play in and I loved it.

“Gerks played on that day for Colchester and he went onto sign for Bristol City when I was there.

“I’ve played with Gerks for some time and he’s a great guy and a great character.

“It’s people like him that have been a draw for me to come to the club – the likes of Gerks, Tommy (Smith) and some of the potential signings that the club are talking about trying to make.”


Skuse also played in that game against Wayne Brown (pictured above), who had a stint in caretaker charge of Colchester earlier this season.

The pair were never team-mates – but over the years, have become very close friends.

Skuse added: “The Colchester fans know more than most that Browner was one of those players that on the pitch, you’d think ‘I wouldn’t want to crash into a tackle with him – he looks a big, mean centre-back!’

“I played against him a few times and when we first signed for Ipswich, my wife and I signed up my eldest girl - who at the time was 18 months old – for swimming lessons.

“In the same swimming session was Browner’s little girl.

“It was our wives that actually got talking and who arranged for us to meet up and it wasn’t until then that I realised it was Browner.

“So from our wives being friends, he’s gone on to be one of my closest friends.

“He’s godparent to our youngest daughter and even though he was a big, aggressive centre-half, he’s probably the nicest gentleman I’ve ever met in my life.

“It’s just a shame it didn’t work out for him in the short spell he had as manager but he absolutely loves the club and he’s just a fantastic guy.”