List of Colchester United F.C. managers
The twelve directors that formed the Board appointed Ted Davis, a former Huddersfield goalkeeper and Bath City manager, to be in charge of team affairs. On 14 July 1937 came the public announcement that the new club would be named Colchester United - a week after Davis' Yorkshire contacts enabled the players to be kitted out in the same blue and white strip as his former club Huddersfield. In the 1939–40 season, after just three Southern League games, the Second World War was declared and the club closed down until the war was over in 1945.
The determination of former Colchester Town player Syd Fieldus along with a couple of Directors kept the club alive but dormant during the war years. Fieldus was appointed Secretary-Manager for 1945–46, and liaising with Major Dai Rees, forged a strong relationship with the Garrison and as United only had four contracted players the Colchester team was complimented by servicemen of varying degrees of ability. Fieldus urged the board to appoint a full-time manager for the 1946–47 season. The new manager was no stranger to Layer Road. Ted Fenton, of West Ham fame, had turned out for Colchester Town in the early 1930s whilst a teenager. He had excellent contacts and wasted no time in assembling his team from an array of professionals looking for a new start after the long war years. Following a successful FA Cup run in 1947–48, he became assistant manager at West Ham in the summer of 1948.
Former Aston Villa and Portsmouth centre-half Jimmy Allen was given the reigns and the ex-England international took over the mandate to get Colchester into the Football League. Colchester were elected to the Football League in the summer of 1950 under Allen's management. Allen resigned on May 2, 1953. Jack Butler, a former Arsenal player, was appointed Allen's replacement. Butler had been coaching in Belgium with the Royal Daring Club and had been in charge of the Belgian national team between 1935–40 leading them to the 1938 FIFA World Cup Finals. Suffering from a nervous breakdown Butler resigned in January 1955. The Board chose Benny Fenton to be player/manager. Fenton assembled his own squad for 1955–56. Fenton gained a reputation for spotting players in Scottish Junior football with the acquisition of John Fowler, Sammy McLeod and Bobby Hill. Benny Fenton left and took over the manager's role at Orient in November 1963. Replacing him was former Stoke and England centre-half Neil Franklin. Suffering three relegations in eight seasons was too much and Franklin was sacked.
Colchester's new manager was Dick Graham. Graham then adopted a policy of employing an older more experienced player. When the club held its AGM in September 1972, Graham was so incensed of the questioning, by a shareholder, of his team and tactics that he tendered his resignation. A month later an unknown Jim Smith was appointed manager. He had led Boston United to the Northern Premier League title. Smith left to join Second Division Blackburn in the summer of 1975. His coach Bobby Roberts was appointed manager.
Following a drop in form, Roberts was asked to resign in April 1982. He refused and was promptly sacked a month later. Former Ipswich centre-half Allan Hunter accepted a player-manager's role and introduced former Ipswich coach Cyril Lea as his assistant for 1982–83. On the back of having to give up his own playing career through injury and the John Lyons' suicide, Hunter resigned in January 1982 with United in seventh place. Lea took over until the end of the campaign and won 8 of his first eleven games. Four defeats in 17 days during April cost U's and again they finished sixth just two points away from promotion. Four months after becoming caretaker, Lea was appointed full-time with Stewart Houston assisting. He had a good record and produced a free-scoring side but could not get the club over the promotion finishing line and was sacked.
Former goalkeeper Mike Walker, coach of U's reserves, took over as caretaker and United were unbeaten in the remaining eight matches - winning five. Walker had hoisted U's to seventh just nine points short of promotion. Walker was appointed full-time becoming Colchester's fourth manager of the 1980s. He was sensationally sacked by the chairman Jonathan Crisp as United were joint top of the Fourth Division. Crisp claimed Walker had resigned, but an alleged personal matter between the pair was said to have been the spark. Roger Brown took over the team. On 15 October 1988, Leyton Orient despatched Brown's sorry team by 8-0 at Brisbane Road. The manager's days were over, and caretaker Steve Foley disposed of Brown's misfits.
Former Glasgow Rangers manager Jock Wallace in charge with England World Cup winner Alan Ball as his assistant. Ball left for Stoke and it was a closely guarded secret that Wallace was very ill with the onset of Parkinson's Disease. Wallace moved upstairs and once again Foley was in temporary charge. Former Ipswich and England defender Mick Mills, recently sacked from Stoke, was made the new manager, as Colchester were relegated from the Football league to the Conference.
The onus was on new Player Manager Ian Atkins to make an immediate return to the Football League. The U's, playing as a fully professional team, finished runners-up, as Atkins joined Birmingham as coach. The new chairman appointed Roy McDonough as manager, who had been Atkins' assistant. He led Colchester back to the Football League at the second attempt, winning the FA Trophy to complete a non-league double. Following a disappointing 1993–94 season, McDonough was sacked. Former Ipswich full-back George Burley was appointed McDonough's replacement in July 1994. Tapped up by Ipswich, who had been refused permission to speak to him, Burley walked out on fifth placed Colchester.
Dale Roberts became caretaker for United's first-ever encounter with a Premiership side in a cup tie against Wimbledon. Steve Wignall was named as new manager in January 1995. Under Wignall's management, the U's finished as runners-up in the 1997 Football League Trophy Final and won promotion via the 1998 Football League Third Division play-off Final. Wignall quit in 1999 citing that he had taken his team as far as he could and was frustrated at the role agents were playing in transfer deals he was trying to set up.
Steve Whitton, Wignall's assistant, became caretaker before Mick Wadsworth, former Scarborough manager, was appointed, keeping Whitton on as assistant. Wadsworth later resigned, citing travelling distance to work as his main reason for leaving. Whitton was promoted to become manager in August 1999. After losing to Conference side Chester in the FA Cup at Layer Road and a run of seven games without a win he left by mutual consent in January 2003. Assistant Geraint Williams took caretaker charge, before Reading's player-coach Phil Parkinson as appointed as United's new boss. Under Parkinson, the U's reached the 5th round of the FA Cup and later achieved promotion to the Championship. Parkinson, however, resigned on June 13, 2006 to take over at Hull City.
Geraint Williams was charged with the daunting task of leading United in their first season in the Championship. The 10th-placed finish they achieved in the 2006–07 season was the highest in the club's history making them 30th in the entire Football League. Colchester were relegated back to League One in 2008, and following a poor run, United were in the bottom four with a record of 1 League win from 6, as Williams was relieved of his duties. Assistant manager Kit Symons took charge for four games, but on 10 October 2008 former Wycombe manager Paul Lambert was unveiled as Colchester's new manager. He quickly inspired The U's to record their first home victory in a thumping 5-0 win over Carlisle 15 days later. On the first day of the 2009–10 season, United walloped Norwich in a truly sensational 7-1 thrashing at Carrow Road. Norwich approached the Colchester chairman over taking Lambert as their new manager following their sacking of Bryan Gunn. Former Watford boss Aidy Boothroyd was unveiled as successor to Lambert on 3 September 2009.
In the summer of 2010, Boothroyd joined Coventry City as their new manager on a three-year deal after he led the U's to eighth place in League One. Colchester promoted John Ward to be new manager following the departure of Boothroyd, having been his assistant. After two mid-table finishes Ward was sacked after a poor start to the 2012-13 Season, being replaced by his assistant Joe Dunne. Joe Dunne was replaced in 2014 by Tony Humes.
All first team matches are counted, except wartime matches.
|Manager name||Highlighted stint as caretaker manager|
Statistics are correct as of 26 November 2015.
|Davis, TedTed Davis||England||14 July 1937||2 September 1939||128||80||17||31||327||155||+172||62.5||1938–39 Southern League champions
1939–40 Southern League Cup winners
|Fieldus, SydSyd Fieldus||England||1 August 1945||31 July 1946||30||10||7||13||49||69||−20||33.3|||
|Fenton, TedTed Fenton||England||1 August 1946||31 May 1948||88||48||17||23||214||135||+79||54.5|||
|Allen, JimmyJimmy Allen||England||1 July 1948||1 April 1953||249||108||59||82||433||380||+53||43.4||1949–50 Southern League runners-up
1949–50 Southern League Cup winners
|Butler, JackJack Butler||England||1 June 1953||31 January 1955||77||16||19||42||85||138||−53||20.8|||
|Fenton, BennyBenny Fenton||England||1 February 1955||31 October 1963||427||166||107||154||736||733||+3||38.9||1961–62 Fourth Division runners-up|||
|Franklin, NeilNeil Franklin||England||1 November 1963||1 May 1968||234||72||62||100||313||383||−70||30.8|||
|Graham, DickDick Graham||England||1 July 1968||8 September 1972||216||93||51||72||322||288||+34||43.1||1971 Watney Cup winners|||
|Mochan, DennisDennis Mochan||Scotland||8 September 1972||1 October 1972||5||0||2||3||2||8||−6||0.0|||
|Smith, JimJim Smith||England||1 October 1972||20 June 1975||140||55||36||49||198||167||+31||39.3|||
|Roberts, BobbyBobby Roberts||Scotland||20 June 1975||3 May 1982||375||143||108||124||504||451||+53||38.1|||
|Hunter, AllanAllan Hunter||Northern Ireland||5 May 1982||18 January 1983||36||17||7||12||51||39||+12||47.2|||
|Lea, CyrilCyril Lea||Wales||1 February 1983||10 April 1986||173||71||46||56||294||243||+51||41.0|||
|Walker, MikeMike Walker||Wales||10 April 1986||1 November 1987||83||37||16||30||120||102||+18||44.6|||
|Brown, RogerRoger Brown||England||1 November 1987||1 October 1988||48||16||12||20||46||68||−22||33.3|||
|Foley, SteveSteve Foley||England||1 October 1988||12 December 1988||18||5||5||8||28||31||−3||27.7|||
|Wallace, JockJock Wallace||Scotland||12 December 1988||20 December 1989||52||12||16||24||63||87||−24||23.1|||
|Foley, SteveSteve Foley||England||20 December 1989||2 January 1990||3||2||0||1||5||3||+2||66.6|||
|Mills, MickMick Mills||England||3 January 1990||9 May 1990||25||8||3||14||27||37||−10||32.0|||
|Atkins, IanIan Atkins||England||1 June 1990||30 June 1991||51||30||11||10||80||46||+34||58.8||1990–91 Conference runners-up|||
|McDonough, RoyRoy McDonough||England||1 July 1991||15 May 1994||155||69||33||53||271||226||+45||44.5||1991–92 Conference winners
1992 FA Trophy winners
|Burley, GeorgeGeorge Burley||Scotland||1 June 1994||26 December 1994||26||12||6||8||41||38||+3||46.2|||
|Roberts, DaleDale Roberts||England||26 December 1994||12 January 1995||5||1||1||3||5||7||−2||20.0|||
|Wignall, SteveSteve Wignall||England||12 January 1995||21 January 1999||218||81||64||73||289||283||+6||37.2||1998 Third Division play-off winners
1997 League Trophy runners-up
|Whitton, SteveSteve Whitton[A]||England||21 January 1999||28 January 1999||1||0||1||0||3||3||0||0.0|||
|Wadsworth, MickMick Wadsworth||England||28 January 1999||25 August 1999||24||7||7||10||28||41||−13||29.2|||
|Whitton, SteveSteve Whitton||England||25 August 1999||29 January 2003||180||52||44||84||221||287||−66||28.8|||
|Williams, GeraintGeraint Williams||Wales||29 January 2003||25 February 2003||5||2||3||0||4||4||0||40.0|||
|Parkinson, PhilPhil Parkinson||England||25 February 2003||14 June 2006||187||79||54||54||256||203||+53||42.8||2006 League One runners-up|||
|Williams, GeraintGeraint Williams||Wales||28 July 2006||22 September 2008||104||31||27||46||146||161||−15||29.8|||
|Symons, KitKit Symons||Wales||22 September 2008||9 October 2008||5||2||0||3||8||9||−1||40.0|||
|Lambert, PaulPaul Lambert||Scotland||9 October 2008||18 August 2009||42||19||7||16||55||43||+12||45.2|||
|Dunne, JoeJoe Dunne||Ireland||18 August 2009||1 September 2009||4||1||1||2||5||6||−1||25.0|||
|Boothroyd, AidyAidy Boothroyd||England||2 September 2009||20 May 2010||44||19||12||13||56||52||+4||43.2||2009–10 Essex Senior Cup winners|||
|Ward, JohnJohn Ward||England||31 May 2010||24 September 2012||111||33||39||39||139||169||−24||29.7|||
|Dunne, JoeJoe Dunne||Ireland||27 September 2012||1 September 2014||45||16||10||19||80||100||−20||28.4|||
|Humes, TonyTony Humes||England||1 September 2014||26 November 2015||67||22||15||30||101||126||−25||32.8|||
- A. ^ : Steve Whitton was joint caretaker manager with Micky Cook for a single match in January 1999.
- "The U's History: The 30s & 40s". cu-fc.com. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "The U's History: The 50s". cu-fc.com. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "The U's History: The 60s". cu-fc.com. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "The U's History: The 70s". cu-fc.com. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "The U's History: The 80s". cu-fc.com. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "The U's History: The 90s". cu-fc.com. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "The U's History: The 00s". cu-fc.com. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "Aidy Boothroyd named as Coventry City boss". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "John Ward named as Colchester United manager". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "Colchester United - Club Info - Who's Who". cu-fc.com. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "Managerial Record". coludaybyday.co.uk. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
- "Ted Fenton's managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "Jimmy Allen's managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "Jack Butler's managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "Benny Fenton's managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "Neil Franklin's managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "Dick Graham's managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "Jim Smith's managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "Bobby Roberts' managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "Allan Hunter's managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "Cyril Lea's managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "Mike Walker's managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "Roger Brown's managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "Jock Wallace's managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "Steve Foley's managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "Mick Mills' managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "Ian Atkins' managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "Roy McDonough's managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "George Burley's managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "Steve Wignall's managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "Steve Whitton's managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "Mick Wadsworth's managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "Geraint Williams' managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "Phil Parkinson's managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
- "Paul Lambert's managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "Joe Dunne's managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 2012-04-02. Cite error: Invalid
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- "Adrian Boothroyd's managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "John Ward's managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- "Tony Humes' managerial career". Soccerbase. Retrieved 2015-05-05.