We speak to U's fans following the team from abroad.
First up in our U's From Afar series is Carol Battson, who moved abroad with her husband Colin.
To register for the Stand Up and Be Counted initiative, which could see you win an all expenses paid trip to watch the U's in action,
Ahead of the new season, we've spoken to a number of our exiled supporters to find out a bit more about them!
The campaign encouraged teams to find out where their foreign support was based and thousands have registered across the Football League so far.
Colchester United and the Football League recently asked fans to register for the Stand Up and Be Counted campaign.
1) How did you come to support Colchester United?
My husband Colin was Club Secretary, and responded to an offer to come to a match at Layer Road on a Saturday when kids admission was free if accompanied by an adult (£2 per adult admission). Coming to that match got us – as a family – completely hooked!
We lived in Frinton and had two young sons playing for Frinton Youth Football Club.
2) What are your earliest memories of following the club?
We enjoyed two trips to Wembley following the U’s (1997 and 1998), along with many thousands of U’s fans who came out of the woodwork on each occasion. We've followed the U’s in their travels down into the Conference then up to the Championship and back to League 1.
Remembering some of the players in our time at the club was Scott Barratt in goal, Paul Roberts, Martin Grainger, Mark Kinsella, Nicky Smith and David Gregory (of course!) and big Roy McDonough – who now lives just a few miles from us here in Spain.
The team captain when we started following the Club was Tony English. We have many memories of those (for us) early times, including one evening match (think it was the Bob Lord Trophy v Wycombe?) when it was so foggy we couldn’t see either goal from our position in the Family Enclosure.
Before we relocated to Spain in 2004, we used to attend virtually every home game and quite a few of the away fixtures too – either by car as a family of four – or just myself and younger son David on the supporters' coach if we couldn’t all make it on that day. Our away coach trips ranged from Hartlepool to Plymouth – very long days in both cases!
3) What brought you to be in the country you are now?
Gone are the days of having to scrape the car windscreen on winter mornings.
My husband Colin retired early to follow other members of our family who had already moved over to Spain. At the time – about 11 years ago – the idea of moving house to Spain’s Costa Calida ("the warm coast"), which boasts over 300 days of sunshine annually – seemed an attractive alternative to both of us carrying on working full-time in the UK.
4) How easy is it following the U's from afar?
Being over 1,000 miles away we have to be "absent" fans most of the time, but we subscribe to the U’s Player deal that allows us to listen on the laptop to all the matches, for a monthly fee (currently £4.49). It does allow us to keep up to speed with the play, although it can be really frustrating if technical glitches interrupt or delay the broadcasting of the match coverage! It's just not the same listening to the match rather than being there. It's so often edge of the seat stuff (or 'squeaky bum time' as Colin calls it) when the U's are either leading by a single goal or holding onto a draw as the full-time whistle approaches.
5) How often do you get across to watch us now?
This coming Christmas, we are planning to attend the local derby Boxing Day fixture against Southend in strength – 8 members of our family in total, when our other son John and his family will be joining us from their home in Leeds.
It's very rare for us to get over to watch a match. However, we try to arrange our infrequent visits to the UK to take in home fixtures. I'm pleased to say that son David has organised tickets for the first match this season against Blackpool on August 8th when I shall be with him in Essex for a few short days.
6) How do you think the team will fare this season?
As long-term U's supporters we'd dearly love to see the Club near the top of the League this year, even if the ongoing financial constraints mean that buying players is difficult. We've been following the pre-season results which give us great encouragement for the upcoming League fixtures. Keep up the good work lads!