Team spread the festive cheer.
Colchester United made traditional Christmas visit to the Children’s Unit at Colchester General Hospital on Tuesday afternoon, as the players took a break from the Southend preparations to spread some festive cheer.
Club captain and striker Chris Porter, midfielders Darren Ambrose, Joe Edwards, Alex Gilbey and Sammie Szmodics, and winger Drey Wright were joined by club mascot Eddie the Eagle.
They met the children, signed autographs and donated gifts that the players, staff and supporters, including a significant contribution from Colchester United Supporters Association (CUSA), have bought for the unit, including Lego, games and toys, which can be used all-year round by youngsters.
They also gave out U’s merchandise for children to take home.
Chris Porter said: "It's amazing to see how brave these youngsters are, especially given the fact that they could be in hospital during the Christmas period when they should be at home with their families.
"It makes you feel extremely fortunate to be fit and well yourself and, on behalf of everyone at Colchester United, I wish all the kids and their families a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year."
Sammie Szmodics and Alex Gilbey have particularly close links to Colchester – Sammie was born in the town and was a pupil at The Stanway School and Alex, who grew up in Colchester, attended The Gilberd School.
Kim Ness, Acting Matron for Children’s Services, said it was particularly exciting that the U's visit was taking place so close to Christmas Day.
"Just because you happen to be in hospital in the run-up to Christmas shouldn't mean you have to miss out on all the fun, especially if you're a child," she said.
"Colchester United Football Club has been a tremendously loyal supporter of the Children's Unit for many, many years and their Christmas visit is always one of the highlights of our year."