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If we take a look at Colchester United’s best years in the market, not too many stand out as much as the 2007/08 campaign surely does. It’s also quite interesting to notice that unlike most of the current teams in the English fourth tier, the Oysters have been buying a lot of players in the more recent years and many of their biggest signings are quite fresh indeed.
But as we hinted at earlier on, their record purchase and the two that follow it, are all from the 2007/08 season. At the very top of the mountain we have Chris Coyne for his arrival from Luton Town for a club-record sum of £473,000. But that same season, Colchester United also penned the contracts with Philip Ifil, signing him from Tottenham Hotspur for £428,000, and Clive Plat, who arrived from Milton Keynes Dons for £405,000.
But there are more – five of the top ten signings at the club were also completed in the 2007/08 campaign and among those ten, there is not a single one that went through before that year. And you thought we were kidding when we said it was a huge year for them.
Those huge spendings, however, were made possible by big sales in the season before that. In 2006/07, the Oysters sold Greg Halford to Reading FC for £4m, setting a new record at the club, and also Neil Danns to Birmingham City for a reported sum of £1m. Those two are to this day in first and third place when it comes to most lucrative departures to date.
In second, we have Lomana LuaLua who joined Newcastle United for £3.3m in 2000/01 when he was only 19, setting what would be a club record before Halford broke it some years later.
Interestingly enough, those three exits are the only that managed to surpass the one-million-pound mark at the club.
We simply can’t talk about Colchester United’s transfers without mentioning Tony Adcock first – of course, he would start his career at the club before making a move in the late 1980s but the return of the prodigal son in ‘95 was huge news back then and it certainly turned some heads.
We also shouldn’t exclude Jamie Cureton who arrived at the club while already stepping into his 30s and, as we now know, didn’t stay for too long but still made quite a splash. And then there is LuaLua, a simply fantastic player who was sold for a then-club-record fee to the Magpies.
Halford, their biggest departure in history, should also get a well-deserved shout and so should Coyne, their big signing in the 2006/07 season.