The Supporters’ Club was recently very kindly donated some memorabilia by former FC chairman Peter Stroud, which dates back to the club’s memorable FA Cup run in the 1999/2000 season.
Starting with a 5-1 win at Woodbridge Town in the Preliminary Round, City continued their run with victories at Kingsbury Town (1-0) and Aylesbury Utd (3-1) before overcoming Moor Green 1-0 at home which saw us rewarded with another away trip, this time to Sussex side Horsham YMCA. A titanic battle saw City eventually come out victors 3-2 but not before Horsham had laid siege to the City goal in the closing stages of the game. A packed clubhouse filled with City supporters erupted as the televised First Round Proper draw matched us with mighty Oldham Athletic of the then Second Division (at the time, the third tier of English football), a club who only six years earlier had been members of the Premier League and had reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup in the same season.
And so, on 30th October 1999, a Claret Army of over a thousand strong made the long journey north to Lancashire. On arrival at the ground, the City supporters were disappointed to hear that both of our main strikers, Tes Bramble and Ben Fuller, had picked up injuries in the week and neither were fit enough to play a part in the game. This clearly had an impact on the team’s performance but, the truth is, we simply didn’t turn up on the day and a forgettable match saw us soundly beaten 4-0 in front of an official crowd of just under 4,500, though it should be said that our chairman – with his mind focussed on the shared gate receipts – made his feelings very clear in the boardroom at half-time as to what he thought of the attendance figure that had been announced!
Boundary Park was surely one of the coldest venues that City have ever played in, with a gale-force wind blowing a horizontal sheet of sleet and rain straight into the stand behind one goal that the City fans occupied. With nothing on the pitch to warm us up, it was a sodden and disgruntled Army that made the trip home to Essex, though the happy memories of the FA Cup run that season, particularly the Horsham YMCA game, remain strong.
Chairman Peter obtained a shirt signed by the respective teams and, together with a programme and match-day tickets, got them framed as a memento of the day and has now kindly donated them to the Supporters’ Club.
After more than twenty years, the item was in need of some TLC and so the frame was dismantled and the side-edging reattached, the shirts were dusted down and a new Perspex panel was sourced from a Colchester firm to replace the broken original. The Supporters’ Club funded the cost of £33 but, in order to save the delivery fee, I collected this in person. With the new panel in place, this excellent piece of memorabilia is now back to its former glory.
Peter was happy for the Supporters’ Club to use the item in any way we felt appropriate, and we had initially thought of auctioning it at a future event. However, we then decided that it should be appreciated by a wider audience and I have now hung it in the clubhouse for all to see, hopefully very soon.
If you have any memories of the Oldham game or the FA Cup run that season in general, we’d love to hear them.
Alan Jones (with memories of the FA Cup run from Gary Mixture)
29th April 2021