DAVID Blacknall says he will always love Colchester United as he leaves for pastures new, following more than three decades of loyal service with the club.

The long-serving U's head groundsman has prepared the JobServe Community Stadium pitch for the last time, having waved an emotional farewell after their friendly with Spurs on Wednesday night.

It is the end of an era for dedicated Blacknall, who is moving on from Colchester after 32 years of service for the club.

He has gained a glowing reputation in the game for the pitches he has prepared over many, many years at the Community Stadium and prior to that, at Layer Road.

Blacknall said: "It was quite emotional walking out of the stadium for the last time and I always thought it would be.

"It's more than half of my life that I've worked at Colchester United and I've lived it.

"I couldn't have been that bad to have been there for that long but also, the club means so much to me that I would not have been there so long if it had been bad.

"It's a double-edged sword and I'm leaving with a lot of sadness, as they were good times.

"I'm excited by the future.

"But I love the club and they will always matter to me."


The ever-popular Blacknall started working at Colchester in August, 1989.

His first-ever game was a pre-season friendly against Chelsea, at Layer Road.

Aside from an 18-month stint in Spain away from the U's in the mid-2000s, he has gone on to give the club more than 30 years of fantastic service.

He did not work any of the 2005-06 promotion season but returned when the U's were taking the Championship by storm under Geraint Williams and were in touching distance of the play-offs to make it into the Premier League.

Now in 2021, he is preparing to take on another challenge but says he has been 'knocked for six' by the amount of kind words and well wishes he has received, since news of his departure was announced.

Blacknall added: "I was totally blown away by some of the comments I've had on Facebook and elsewhere - they're overwhelming, they really are.

"It's knocked me for six, to be fair.

"A lot of comments were by and large from people I knew but a lot of them were also from people I didn't know who were saying nice things, so that's nice as well.

"It was fantastic also to have such a great reaction at the Spurs game."