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10:26am on Sunday, 19th February, 2006:



Today, Colchester United play Chelsea away in the fifth round of the FA cup. Given the disparity in the clubs, losing by only three goals would be a good result for Colchester.

Many football clubs have nicknames. Arsenal, for example, are the Gunners; Derby County are the Rams; West Ham United are the Hammers; Norwich City are the Canaries; Peterborough United are Posh. Some of the nicknames are generally known but not used much, for example Manchester United are the Red Devils.

What if you're a club without a nickname, though? What do you do then?

Well, some clubs go with the colour of their strip (the reds or the blues) but most go for the signifier following their name — town, city, united etc.. At a match between Manchester United and Newcastle United, both sets of supporters could be shouting "United!" at the same time.

Colchester United doesn't have a functional nickname, but in an effort to individualise themselves they don't go for United. No, they go for the U's. The U stands for United.

Now because of their good un in the FA Cup, and because there is a dearth of clubs in East Anglia so Colchester United gets mentioned a lot more on the local news than a comparable club in Yorkshire or the Midlands might, there's been a spate of references to "the U's" recently. Eventually, it got to the point where my wife was interested enough to ask me why they were called that.

Me: It's short for "United".
Wife: What is?
Me: The U.
Wife: It's the letter U?
Me: Yes, what did you think it was? The Y O Us, as in the not mes? Or the U S E, as in "to use" something?
Wife: No, I thought they were the E W E S ewes. I was wondering what Colchester had to do with sheep.

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Copyright © 2006 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).