A NEWLY published football book, with a distinct East Anglian flavour, should prove a big hit with Colchester United supporters.

This bumper 350-page book, 'ON THE ROAD WITH U'S AND BLUES,' features a rip-roaring tour around the press boxes of more than 120 Football League and Premier League grounds, spread over a period of 30 years.

And it's quite appropriate that the book should be unveiled this summer, with the two clubs enjoying closer links than ever with the recent moves of Luke Chambers, Cole Skuse, Freddie Sears and Alan Judge from Portman Road to the JobServe Community Stadium, to hopefully bolster the U's League Two promotion bid for the 2021-22 season.

The author, Suffolk-born Carl Marston, has been a sports reporter since 1989, and has spent most of the intervening years travelling up and down the country, following the fortunes of both the U's and also, on occasions, Ipswich Town.

The book traces his escapades in press boxes up and down the land, 124 of them in all, topped off by a final chapter highlighting the best/worst grounds of players and managers themselves, including former U's stalwarts like Karl Duguid, Paul Abrahams, Joe Keith, Kem Izzet and Geraint Williams.

The book is also sprinkled with photographs taken by Warren Page, who has likewise followed the fortunes of both the U's and Town since the early 1990s.

The duo have cherished, or perhaps endured, each other's company in the company pool car on hundreds and hundreds of long away trips over the last 30 years.

After a stint following the dramatic rise of Cambridge United, at the start of the 1990s - including an unforgettable season which almost ended with John Beck's upwardly mobile side reaching the new Premier League - Carl became a regular Colchester United correspondent after the Essex club's return to the Football League in 1992, spanning three decades across three divisions.


Up for the cup - Colchester United's Richard Garcia in action against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in an FA Cup tie, in 2006 Picture: PAGEPIX

He later became a familiar face in the Ipswich Town press box, including two years shadowing the enigmatic Roy Keane, which amounted to a rollercoaster ride of emotions following every game of the high profile Irishman's controversial reign, though starved of success.

From Manchester United to Accrington Stanley, from Layer Road to Portman Road, beginning at The Abbey, Cambridge, and ending at Moor Lane, Salford, Carl recounts his colourful career in chronological order, which includes reporting on more than 1,000 U's games.

He was presented with a commemorative U's shirt, on chalking up his 1,000th U's game in a press box, by then-manager Tony Humes at Spotland, the humble home of Rochdale, in March, 2015.

Along the way, Carl brushes shoulders with such big-name managers such as Kenny Dalglish, Six Alex Ferguson and Kevin Keegan, and enjoys close relationships with U's bosses Roy McDonough, George Burley, Steve Wignall, Steve Whitton, Phil Parkinson and alike.

Over the years, Carl has been left behind by the team-coach (at Torquay United), arrived late just once (at Wrexham), been treated like a king (at the Emirates) and struggled to get in (at Doncaster's Belle Vue).

In the early days, he was accompanied by a mobile phone which had a battery the size of a suitcase, long before the emergence of Twitter, Blogs, Vlogs and Podcasts. He calls them the 'glory days.'


Memorable day - Colchester United fans at Huish Park for their final-day promotion at Yeovil Town, in 2006 Picture: PAGEPIX

Included in the book are terrible lows - like a humiliating 7-3 defeat at bottom club Darlington and a 5-0 thrashing at unfashionable Hereford, both within three weeks of each other in 1993 - to the joys of a trip to Chelsea and a promotion-winning afternoon at Yeovil, both under Parkinson in 2006.

This is a superb, engaging read, not just for Colchester United or Ipswich Town supporters but for football fans of any teams.

The book's sheer intricacy and attention to detail reflects the high level knowledge and ability of the author, who is one of the best around.

Magically, it brings the rich experiences of past games and grounds to life again and is brilliant at reflecting the wide range of emotions we have all felt, at football grounds.

And it is peppered throughout with a good dose of humour which again, is a reflection of Carl's own insatiable, and sometimes mischievous, wit.

As fans begin to steadily return to stadiums, 'On the Road with U's and Blues' is a tantalising reminder of why we, as football supporters, love watching our teams from the stands - for better, or for worse.

And it is all described in a wonderfully descriptive and detailed way, by a writer who has pretty much seen it all.

To obtain a copy of 'ON THE ROAD WITH U'S AND BLUES,' it is recommended to visit the publisher' website JMD media at - https://www.jmdmedia.co.uk/ - where you can get 25 per cent off the RRP by using the code - marston25.

The book will be available from Red Lion Books, at 125 High Street, Colchester, from next week onwards. www.redlionbooks.co.uk

The book is also available from Amazon. Alternatively, you can email carl.marston@archant.co.uk for further details

Any proceeds from the book will be donated to the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Donations to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/carl-marston1