I Cannot Disrespect Ze Cat

C is for Collin, he’s good enough for me CLAP CLAP

C is for Collin, he’s good enough for me CLAP CLAP

C is for Collin, he’s GOOD enough for me OHHHHHHHH

Collin, Collin, plays for SKC CLAP CLAP CLAP

(To the tune of C is for Cookie by Cookie Monster.)

He only played thirteen games for Wrexham, in the lowest level we’d ever appeared in, but Aurelien Collin might just be the biggest cult hero we’ve fielded since the 1980s.

Not that he had much chance to attract such status with us, of course. He was a solid-looking centre back who arrived unheralded at the end of Dean Saunders’ first season at the helm, and his timing was pretty lousy.

He turned up just in time to take part in the depressing conclusion to that campaign, as a side which had looked like it was going to challenge in the play-offs, and even travelled to Burton in March with hopes of a late tilt at the title, staggered over the finishing line in tenth place.

His debut was rather inauspicious: a dreadful FA Trophy quarter final with Ebbsfleet which saw him have a torrid first half as the right-sided centre-back with the wretched Christian Gyan outside him. Gyan was substituted at half time but Collin must still have felt some relief when his contribution was cut short by a red card for a professional foul on Michael Gash in the second half.

He had an unhappy final home game too: Altrincham were one of the first in a series of non-league clubs which turned up at The Racecourse with no history of ever being anywhere near Wrexham’s level in the game and departed with the three points, delivering a slap across the chops of Dragons fans to remind them of how far their club had plummeted. (Alfreton come to mind for some reason!)

Collin’s role in the defeat was pretty decisive too, as he stooped to head the ball beyond debutant Chris Maxwell to score the only goal of the game! Have a look at the match report and it’s pretty clear that the young keeper wasn’t the one getting the blame for that one!

In fact, Collin’s time with the club, on the face of it, was a pretty miserable one. He was on the winning side just once, against Northwich Victoria who were relegated by quite a margin, and tasted defeat eight times! But you don’t measure cult heroes in figures.

Collin wasn’t at fault in those games; in fact he was one of the bright spots in an horrendous run-in to the merciful release of the close season. It wasn’t his fault that the strikers failed to score in ten of those thirteen games (including the last eight matches, remarkably!) He looked polished at the back, commanding and assured apart from that ropey debut.

Saunders shipped plenty of players out that Summer, but he wanted to keep Collin. However, the Frenchman had done enough to earn himself a better offer, albeit the first of two which make me ask myself where the Conference actually fits into the global scheme of things. He signed for Vitoria Setubel in the top division of Portuguese football, and enjoyed two seasons in their first team, starting more games than he missed. What that tells us about the standard of football in the Blue Square Premier is a different but very interesing question.

His next move offered the possibility of another new adventure. Sporting Kansas City took him across the Atlantic and again he was a success, a regular in the best defence in the MLS last season as they just missed out in the play-offs.

It’s an environment that suits him. There’s plenty of sniffy snobbery in Britain about the MLS – after all, that’s what we’re good at – but the football is competitive and the soil is rich for a charismatic character like Collin. MLS fan culture is fascinatingly vibrant: part of this seems to come from the fact that there are plenty of hard core fans of the game over there who have latched keenly onto the opportunity to support a local side once the playing standards rose; also, in a relatively new league, a clean slate allowed supporters to cherry pick the best parts of fandom from Europe and South America while rejecting the darker elements.

Furthermore, both fans and clubs, as you might expect in the States, are media-savvy, so Collin has earned devotion with his performances and cemented it with his ability to oblige off the pitch.

The result? The magnificent Collin’s Corner, in which he plays the comically suave French stereotype to perfection, sipping high energy drinks from a wineglass while offering lifestyle tips to his team mates. The watercooler moment comes at the end of the second installment, when he announces “I cannot disrespect ze cat”, a phrase quickly latched upon by a group that embodies the healthy state of fandom in the USA – South Stand SC, who are selling some rather brilliant t-shirts commemorating the moment! I’ve made my enquiries, and will be sporting one soon at a play-off semi-final near you!

It’s a shame we didn’t get a better chance to become fully acquainted with Collin, but clearly he has arrived in a place where his talents, both with and without the ball, are appreciated. As for me, I’m off – ESPN are showing my new favourite MLS centre back against David Beckham’s LA Galaxy in ten minutes!

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5 thoughts on “I Cannot Disrespect Ze Cat

  1. We have an amazing cast of characters at Sporting KC. Their skill, personality, and community involvement are everything a fanbase could hope for – on the field and off. They may not have come to us as big names with tons of money being thrown at them, but they have all blossomed and gelled into a team that can take on those big names without fear (and get 3 points while they’re at it). THIS IS SPORTING!!!

  2. Its great to hear about one of my favorite players from the perspective of a supporter from another country, even continent! I write a blog about Sporting Kansas City and Collin won mine and many others’ man of the match. Very interesting look at our league and good to read those good words about the MLS, thanks.

  3. Thanks guys – I’ve just posted on the South Stand Facebook page about how I got into the MLS, and I think I might just write a bit more on the subject – thanks for the encouragement!

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