🔗 | CONNECTIONS | Colchester United

From a Brazilian trialist to an infamous French midfielder, and a former Chelsea youngster, here are eleven players who turned out for both the Mariners and Colchester United.

Barney Bircham 
North-Easterner Barney Bircham played for both Grimsby Town and Colchester in the late-40s and early-50s. He was on the books of Sunderland as a youngster and then moved onto Chesterfield, where he failed to make a first team appearance. Moving to Blundell Park in 1949, Barney played eight times in goal for the Mariners, but was sold to Colchester at the end of the season for a fee of £800. He went onto play seven times for the U’s during February and March 1951 but finished his playing career soon after and settled back in Grimsby until his passing aged 83 in 2007.  

Mike Edwards 
Defender Mike Edwards came through the ranks at Hull and had made over 200 first-team appearances for the Tigers by the age of 22. He joined Colchester for a short spell towards the end of the 2002/03 season, playing five league games for the U’s. A trial at Boston United followed but Mike signed with the Mariners before the start of the 2003/04 season, impressing at centre half despite the club’s relegation to League Two. He played 33 league games for Town, scoring once in a 4-0 win over Chesterfield. Moving onto Notts County at the end of the season, Edwards spent eight seasons with the Magpies, making over 300 appearances for the club, before a 2012 switch to Carlisle. He spent two seasons in Cumbria and then returned to Meadow Lane, where he spent another four seasons.

Lewis Gobern 
Winger Lewis Gobern played 12 games on loan for Colchester in 2009, having joined the club from Wolves. He scored twice in 13 league games for the Midlands club, also enjoying loan stints with Hartlepool, Bury and Blackpool. A move to MK Dons followed in 2009 and he played 19 league games for the Milton Keynes club. Joining Town in 2010, Lewis was restricted to just nine league games for the Mariners because of injury and off-field disciplinary problems. He left Blundell Park in January 2011 and finished his playing career with a short spell at Notts County. 

Thomas Pinault 
French midfielder Thomas Pinault was highly-rated at both Colchester and Grimsby. He joined the U’s as a teenager from Cannes. He played over 150 times for the U’s and then went on trial with Northampton and Dundee United. Joining Town in the summer of 2004, Thomas was an instant hit at Blundell Park with his goals from midfield and array of passing. Released at the end of that campaign, the Frenchman has since gone onto play for Brentford, Crawley and RC Grasse. 

Jose Antunes 
The Brazilian, known as Fumaca, was a Catuense player in his homeland, who went on loan to Benfica in 1998. It was here that the player decided he wanted to play for an English club and he joined Birmingham in a move that lasted just 45 minutes of a reserve game. His next club was Grimsby and three goals in successive reserve games saw the club try to sign the player but he opted for a trial at Derby and then Watford, eventually joining Colchester on loan in 1999. His spell with the U’s lasted just 14 minutes because of injury but he did play for both Crystal Palace and Newcastle, before returning to Brazil and finishing his career in the Czech Republic and Germany. 

Marc Goodfellow 
Winger Marc Goodfellow was a January 2006 arrival at Blundell Park from Swansea City. A former Stoke and Bristol City midfielder, he enjoyed a five-game spell with the U’s on loan from the Ashton Gate club in 2005, scoring once. Moving onto South Wales later that year, his spell at Grimsby yielded one goal in ten league appearances. He later turned out for Bury, Burton, Barrow and Kidderminster, before finishing his career in the lower leagues with Gresley, King’s Lynn, Worksop, Mickleover and Basford United. 

Trevor Whymark 
Former England international Trevor Whymark is fondly remembered for his four-season spell with the Mariners, which came in the latter days of his career. Plucked from non-league Diss Town by legendary Ipswich boss Bobby Robson in 1969, Trevor spent ten seasons with the Suffolk club, during their glory years of the 70s, winning the FA Cup and Charity Shield in 1978, although injury ruled him out of the former. A short spell at Derby followed before Trevor enjoyed a successful year-long stint with Vancouver Whitecaps in the NASL. Returning to these shores with the Mariners, he scored 16 times in 93 outings for the club and then moved onto Southend and Peterborough. Returning to first club Diss, he made two further league appearances in a brief stop at Colchester before ending his career back at Diss. 

Scott Vernon 
Former Mariners’ striker Scott Vernon spent two seasons with the U’s between 2008 and 2010, scoring 12 goals in 57 league games. The former Oldham youngster had previously played on loan for the club from Blackpool. He later moved onto Aberdeen and Shrewsbury, moving to Blundell Park in 2016, spending two seasons with the Mariners. He later made the short switch to non-league Cleethorpes Town.

Bradley Allen 
Former England under-21 international Bradley Allen started his career at QPR and then Charlton, before spending four games on loan at Colchester in 1999, scoring once. He moved to Blundell Park later that year and spent three seasons in Cleethorpes, scoring a total of 15 league goals in 80 appearances. Short spells with Peterborough, Bristol Rovers, Hornchurch and Redbridge followed before he followed brothers Clive and Martin into a coaching career and he is currently an Academy Coach at Tottenham Hotspur. 

Mark Nicholls 
Striker Mark Nicholls spent time on loan at both Grimsby and Colchester in 2000 from Chelsea, playing a total of ten games across the two spells without scoring. A well-travelled striker, Nicholls enjoyed success at Torquay and Hamilton and was a prolific scorer for Northwood during a 19-club career that ended with North Greenford United in 2013. 

John Ward 
Lincoln-born striker John Ward was a prolific scorer for his hometown club during the 1970s, netting 91 times in 240 league games. He followed former Imps’ manager Graham Taylor to Watford and added a further six goals in 27 league games, before joining the Mariners in 1981. He played just three league games for Town and ended his playing career back at Lincoln. Moving back to Watford as Taylor’s assistant manager, he held a similar role when the future England boss moved onto Aston Villa. In 1991, Ward held his first managerial role at York City and then went onto enjoy success with Bristol Rovers, Bristol City, Wolves, Cheltenham, Carlisle, before a two-season spell at the helm of Colchester between 2010 and 2012. 

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