COLUMN: The ‘Colchester 117’ deserve medals for a love so remarkable it’s almost baffling

Picture by Gareth Williams/AHPIX.com; Football; Sky Bet League Two; Colchester United v Chesterfield; 12/09/2017 KO 15.00; Weston Homes Community Stadium; copyright picture; Howard Roe/AHPIX.com; We're winning Dad! Spireites fans at Colchester
Picture by Gareth Williams/AHPIX.com; Football; Sky Bet League Two; Colchester United v Chesterfield; 12/09/2017 KO 15.00; Weston Homes Community Stadium; copyright picture; Howard Roe/AHPIX.com; We're winning Dad! Spireites fans at Colchester
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Imagine being able to say ‘I was there when Town drew 1-1 at Colchester on a Tuesday night in September 2017.’

That’s something that only 117 Spireites can now boast for years to come.

Picture by Gareth Williams/AHPIX.com; Football; Sky Bet League Two; Colchester United v Chesterfield; 12/09/2017 KO 15.00; Weston Homes Community Stadium; copyright picture; Howard Roe/AHPIX.com; Spireites fans at Colchester

Picture by Gareth Williams/AHPIX.com; Football; Sky Bet League Two; Colchester United v Chesterfield; 12/09/2017 KO 15.00; Weston Homes Community Stadium; copyright picture; Howard Roe/AHPIX.com; Spireites fans at Colchester

Although it’s unlikely that this is one of those games that thousands will later claim they attended, when the context of the match is explored the sheer dedication – or madness – of the 117 has to be highlighted.

Rewind a little over two years and these same fans were travelling to Preston North End and dreaming of a result that would take Chesterfield to the brink of Championship football.

From a play-off semi-final, contested by a team that included exciting stars like Tendayi Darikwa and Sam Clucas, to a must-not-lose fixture at Colchester played by a team close to the bottom of the Football League.

To suffer a fall from grace that severe and still commit to a 350-mile round-trip on a Tuesday night shows a love of the club that is so remarkable it’s almost baffling.

On their previous away outings this season, Spireites supporters had watched their men lose each and every time, shipping 15 goals in the process.

Anyone who had to sit and watch Crewe destroying Chesterfield 5-1 on Saturday could so easily be forgiven for giving Colchester a swerve.

Yet, 117 brave, hardy souls chose to get on the road and support their team once again – despite the form, despite the league table and despite the impending storm they’d have to travel back in.

And they got a reward, of sorts, in a lovely goal by Louis Reed and a point gained in the face of adversity and an opposition throwing the kitchen sink at the away side.

It’s the very least Town fans deserve.

Few clubs will have given their supporters as little to cheer about for as long as this one has.

They’ve got next to nothing out of a relationship for two years and still show up.

It should be noted that the fans who are staying away out of principle have every right to do so, their well documented reasons must be respected because they love Chesterfield FC just as much.

Both sides of the fanbase, the match-going and the abstaining, deserve better.

They’re the best thing about this club.

The 117 in particular deserve medals.

What they might settle for is three points at the Proact on Saturday.

They certainly won’t settle for anything less.