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Chairman Reflects On 2012

31 December 2012

Robbie looks back - and forward to 2013.

2012 has been a very challenging year with the introduction of new Football League rules which restrict the amount a club in League One can spend on player wages and the revamp of youth football which challenged clubs to bring football development in England up to the standards adopted in other countries and in other successful sports in the UK.

May I start by hoping that everyone has had a great Christmas and that like me, you are all very optimistic about 2013.

Writing for the programme for the postponed Swindon game, U's chairman Robbie Cowling took time to reflect on the past twelve months for Colchester United. Here are his thoughts on what has happened - and what is still to come. However, I truly believe that when we look back to it in the future we will see just how pivotal the year 2012 has been for our football club. 

This has been going on against a backdrop of continued economic challenges which are driving revenues from football attendances and matchday spending down.

In 2012 Colchester United Football Club:-

Moved into Florence Park, its purpose built training ground in Tiptree
This has given the club a training base where it can fulfill nearly all of its training needs. In the past the training was very fragmented with different activities going on in various locations using variable qualities of equipment.

The training facility has already played its part in attracting players to sign permanently for Colchester and has also influenced clubs like Arsenal and West Ham to send us their players on loan.

Tripled its Youth Development spending
In recent years, Colchester United has increased spending on its youth development program to a level that has allowed us to compete for talent with the bigger clubs in the area.

However, in 2012 the investment was dramatically increased so that we could attain Category 2 Status of the Elite Player Performance Program (the EPPP).

This investment has grown the full-time staff in the Youth Department from 4 to 19 staff and has also allowed the club to build new youth facilities at Florence Park and Warrior’s Rest in Tiptree.
Whoever does ultimately replace Joe, or anyone else for that matter, will be tasked with doing exactly the same. You can’t feel it yet because it will take some time but 2012 was the birth of a consistent brand.

Hopefully Joe Dunne will be manager here for a large number of very successful seasons, during which he will deliver football teams that are clearly identified as Colchester United.

This joined up thinking will ultimately lead to us having a clearer identity that will not be changed by the coming and going of an individual.

This desire has also forced us to think about our football philosophy. How we want to play the game and what types of players we need to be developing.

The improvements we have made to our training facilities and our youth academy have been driven by our desire to develop a greater number of home grown players that will go on to play for our first team.

At the time of writing this article, I have completed 11 of the 23 runs to our home fixtures from my home in Great Totham. I can’t say that these runs have been a lot of fun and my knees are starting to feel every mile of the 15 miles. 

However, having spent three excellent days cycling 240 miles to Preston I’m actually looking forward to the four days it will take me to cycle to Carlisle in April.

, I agreed to cycle to the first and last away fixtures of the season and run to each home league fixture. My initial instinct was that the fixtures computer was a little unkind in giving me Preston for the first game of the season and Carlisle for the last one. To raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust

However, I am doing this to raise money for a great cause and if anyone would like to sponsor my efforts by visiting my justgiving page at I would be very appreciative and it will help to keep me motivated on a cold and wet Tuesday night when I am struggling up Nayland Road.

Finally, I would like to wish you all a very happy and prosperous new year.

Please keep supporting the U’s through thick and thin and I’ll continue to do the same.
Robbie Cowling

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