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1 June 2016

A U's fan tells us why he adopted us after starting with Barnsley.

The Tykes victory over Millwall capped a fine season for the Yorkshire side and it was also good news for Colchester supporter Richard Hopkins. Here, he tells us why...

The Bank Holiday weekend saw Hull City, Barnsley and AFC Wimbledon seal promotion via the play-offs.

Who remembers Barnsley’s visit to Colchester last December?

Barnsley were bottom and Colchester were just above the relegation zone – a real bottom of the table six-pointer! As I watched Barnsley thrashing Walsall and Millwall in the playoffs, I wished I'd put a tenner on them getting promotion back on that cold day in Colchester.

Colchester is my team now – no doubt about it. I've had a season ticket for a few seasons and get to a number of away games too.

But it wasn't ever thus.

Before moving to Colchester, Barnsley was my team. At Oakwell, Wembley, the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff (and, yes, even from the away end at Layer Road), I've lived through their ebbs and flows in the Football League in recent years.

But then, a couple of years ago, they found themselves in the same division as Colchester for the first time since I decided to support my local team and two-time Toby Tyke for Eddie the Eagle. 

This caused me a bit of anxiety. How would I feel when they came to Colchester? And worse, how on earth do you get into the away end at Oakwell?

For the home games, I tried to enjoy them as a neutral although found myself cheering as enthusiastically as ever when the U's scored. And a stupid Friday night away fixture last season meant that it wasn't until the end of April of this year that I found myself in the away stand at Oakwell for the first time.

It felt strange looking across at where I used to sit in the Main Stand, but nobody celebrated more than me when Tom Lapslie scored his amazing 97th minute equaliser.

But watching Barnsley demolish Walsall and Millwall on their way back to the Championship was a double pleasure for me.

I can't deny still getting a frisson of excitement when someone wearing the famous red shirt ripples the back of the net, but, even better, a two division gap between Barnsley and Colchester means that my loyalties need not be divided for at least one season.
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Come on you football lovers of Colchester – just do it!

And if Colchester end up in the same division as Liverpool or Arsenal (yes, miracles can happen), then I've proved with my ongoing support for Barnsley that the world will not come to and end.

Get a group of mates together and meet up for home games – it's a great way of socialising with friends. And if you've got kids, just accept that they’re never going to share your love of Liverpool or Arsenal or whatever it may be. Let them grow up supporting their local team – they’ll thank you for it.

Get down to WHCS when you can and enjoy supporting a local team that really needs you. And when the inevitable good run of form eventually arrives, you can be part of it.

But for most people, their existing team is in the Premier League or the Championship. It is probably also a long way away and tickets cost a fortune. So, to newcomers to Colchester I say this – start supporting Colchester in addition to your existing team. There's really no law against it.

We've got a great club and a great ground, but not enough of those seats are filled on match day. The problem? A huge proportion of the rapidly growing population of Colchester are, like me, arrivals in recent years. And, inevitably, you turn up already having a team that you support.

I've proved that, if you live in Colchester, you can support your local team wholeheartedly without abandoning your loyalty to the team you've followed for years.

So why is my footballing dilemma good for Colchester? Simple.

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