It's the Standard Verdict - an exclusive weekly look at Colchester United (From Essex County Standard)
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It's the Standard Verdict - an exclusive weekly look at Colchester United
ESSEX COUNTY STANDARD U's REPORTER SIMON SPURGEON DELIVERS HIS THOUGHTS ON Colchester United IN HIS WEEKLY COLUMN: Value for money is something that I’m always on the look-out for.
On a journalist’s wages you can’t be anything else really.
I like to think I’m getting proper worth for each pound that I spend and I always think spectators at non-league football get a good deal.
Non-league supporters become part of a community that welcomes newcomers with open arms and I always think it’s good value for money.
I’m happy to promote the virtues of the non-league game and I’ll shoot anybody down who looks down their noses at it.
Those who sneer at the thought of compromising their Football League allegiance by taking in some non-league action should put their prawn sandwiches down and think again.
It is one of the foundations that the professional game is built on. We should support it and Colchester United have shown this season why we need to cherish it.
Andy Bond and Ben Coker are two very good reasons why a vibrant non-league scene is crucial.
Relatively few youth team players go on to get professional contracts, but playing in a competitive and vibrant non-league scene gives them a second chance to prove they have what it takes.
And it appears that clubs are increasingly coming to recognise the worth of keeping a close eye on all levels of the non-league game.
Of course you can’t rely solely on players coming through from non-league, but clubs have benefited from a willingness to bring them through.
How much have the U’s opponents tomorrow, Swindon Town, got from giving Charlie Austin his chance and you could argue that Peterborough United made it into the Championship on the back of their non-league acquistions.
I was delighted when Coker told me after the pre-season game at Maldon that he had been offered a professional deal.
Together with Bond’s arrival, I felt it represented a big development in the U’s signing policy and it’s one I heartily commend.
They are looking for hungry young players to develop and in John Ward, I think they have the ideal boss to do that.
Ward is someone who I think is a developing manager and I’d put his assistant Joe Dunne in that bracket as well.
Now Coker is an established member of the squad, his youthful exuberance is infectious and it’s a pleasure to witness a young man’s unbridled joy that he is living his dream. You sense that he would run through a brick wall for the manager and the club who have given him his chance and that’s exactly the type of player I want in my team.
There was an excitement when Aidy Boothroyd brought in Franck Queudrue last year, but what a disappointment that particular signing turned out to be.
I wouldn’t like to guess how much his three appearances in a U’s shirt cost the club and to be honest, I’d rather have ten Ben Cokers rather than one Franck Queudrue.
Now that’s proper value for money.