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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 February 2007, 14:35 GMT
The season's biggest success?
By Paul Fletcher

Kem Izzet in action for Colchester against Preston
If teams keep under-estimating us we will keep turning them over

Colchester midfielder Kem Izzet
The measure of success in football is not easily quantifiable.

For some clubs it means winning trophies, pure and simple, for others it might mean remaining in their current division.

But if you define success as making the most of what you have available then Colchester United must currently be top of the pile.

The Essex side defeated promotion contenders Preston to move eighth in the Championship on Tuesday night.

Promotion under former boss Phil Parkinson nine months ago took them to the second tier of English football for the first time - just 14 years after winning promotion from the Conference.

Formed in 1937, the U's are currently enjoying the high-water mark in their history.

Geraint Williams' side are two points off the play-offs and boast the second best home record in the Football League behind West Brom with 12 wins, one draw and just two defeats from their 15 Championship fixtures at Layer Road.

This is from a club whose Layer Road ground holds 6,120 - the lowest in their division - and has corporate facilities for 40 people.

Founded: 1937
Ground: Layer Road
Nickname: The U's
Manager: Geraint Williams
Record transfer fee received: 2.5m from Reading for Greg Halford, January 2007
Record transfer fee paid: 50,000 for Ipswich's Neil Gregory, March 1998

Many visiting fans walking through the turnstiles at Layer Road this season could be forgiven for feeling slightly nostalgic.

Most watch their teams play in modern stadiums, many holding well in excess of 20,000, whereas Colchester's home has the look, feel and facilities of a bygone era.

The fans are almost on top of the action, many of them standing, food and drink is sold from little wooden huts while an aggressive clearance ends up sailing over the stands.

Perhaps the unaccustomed surroundings has an effect on visiting teams.

After their defeat on Tuesday Preston striker David Nugent said: "It is not the nicest place to go. Maybe that is why they have got the home record they have."

But as Colchester midfielder Kem Izzet told BBC Sport after Tuesday's fixture: "If that it the case then opposition teams need to start bucking their ideas up.

"If teams keep under-estimating us we will keep turning them over and long may it continue."

Colchester may be the only Championship side who did not spend any money on agents between 1 July and 31 December 2006 and have one of, if not the, lowest wage bills in the division.

But they look well managed under Geraint Williams, who was promoted to his current role after previous boss Phil Parkinson left for Hull last summer, and have a balanced look about them.

The powerful Chris Iwelumo, for example, complements the smaller but slippery Jamie Cureton in attack.

Colchester are moving to a 10,000 all-seater stadium
Colchester are building a new stadium

The likes of Izzet, Johnnie Jackson and Karl Duguid provide a mixture of skill and experience in midfield while Wayne Brown superbly marshals the defensive line.

If the sale of star player Greg Halford to Reading is to have a negative effect on the side it did not show against Preston.

And Izzet is in no doubt about the qualities that have seen Colchester battling at the right end of the table all season.

"Look at the table and we are eighth," added Izzet.

"I don't think many people would have envisaged us being there but we are there on merit.

"We have definitely proved a point to people outside Colchester United but the club, the management staff and those surrounding the U's knew what we were capable of given a chance.

"Everyone wants to prove they are capable of being in the Championship and we are doing that."

606 DEBATE: Are Colchester the biggest success?

There is no suggestion that Colchester are lucky for the table does not lie so far into the season - but I doubt whether there is a team so high in the league given their extremely modest facilities.

Of course, you cannot stand still and hope to move forward - and Colchester are hoping to develop off-the-field to match the achievements on it.

Businessman Robbie Cowling completed his takeover of the club in September and the town's council approved funding in November for a 10,000-seater Community Stadium at Cuckoo Farm.

The club hope the new ground will be ready for the start of the 2008-09 season.

At that point Colchester might have the facilities to match their on-field success but, until then, they are surely the Football League's biggest success story.

The Coca-Cola Football League Championship Table
30 January 2010 19:21
    P GD PTS
1 Newcastle 27 27 56
2 Nottm Forest 28 23 52

3 West Brom 27 26 50
4 Cardiff 27 22 45
5 Swansea 27 3 42
6 Sheff Utd 27 4 41

7 Blackpool 27 10 40
8 Leicester 26 2 39
9 Middlesbrough 28 7 37
10 Bristol City 27 -4 36
11 Preston 26 -2 35
12 QPR 27 -4 34
13 Doncaster 26 -1 33
14 Coventry 28 -8 33
15 Barnsley 26 -8 33
16 Scunthorpe 27 -13 33
17 Watford 26 -6 32
18 Derby 28 -11 32
19 Sheff Wed 28 -12 31
20 Crystal Palace 27 2 30
21 Ipswich 27 -8 29

22 Reading 27 -16 26
23 Plymouth 26 -14 24
24 Peterborough 28 -19 18

Colchester 1-0 Preston
30 Jan 07 |  Championship
Halford completes Reading switch
30 Jan 07 |  Reading
Contractor named for U's ground
24 Jan 07 |  Colchester United
Colchester get stadium go-ahead
14 Nov 06 |  Colchester United
Colchester takeover is completed
07 Sep 06 |  Colchester United


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