THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

For those who aren't interested in the diet or the University Steve Jillings gives us a brief look at Cambridge football 

1912 Formed as Abbey United, gaining admittance to the Cambs FA League in 1921. Early chances of silverware dashed by Great Eastern Railwaymen.

1947 Admitted to United Counties League. Change name to Cambridge United in 1951 and join Eastern Counties League. Fans lick their lips at the prospect of playing Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal. Their ‘A’ teams anyway.

1953 Drawn against League club for the first time in the FA Cup, United stun the footballing world (South Wales branch) by beating Newport 2-1 away. Narrowly lose to Bradford PA in the next round. 1970 Under the guidance of Bill Leivers, win Southern League for second season running and gain election to the League. Whatever happened to that other club in Bradford?

1976 Ron Atkinson leads club to Fourth Division title. We allow Torquay’s Pat Kruse to score after six seconds. Maybe not the fastest goal ever, but certainly the fastest own goal. BFR leaves but John Docherty leads club to further promotion and heady heights of the Second.

1977-83 Six seasons of measured success, (mid-table obscurity some call it), culminating in a 12-match home run in 1983 without con­ceding a goal, before shipping four in the last home game of the season. An ominous portent.

1983-86 Mid-decade Blues, Part II (see also Seventies and Nineties). Big boys vote to keep home gate receipts. United, forced to rely on the support of the Cambridge public, race through three managers and three divisions. Records include 34 games without a win and 16 without a home win. Forced to apply for re-election. The mere mention of John Ryan and Ken Shellito still causes grown men to weep. A saviour is found in Chris Turner, whose stint as manager lays basis for our rags to riches (to rags again) journey. Blots his copy book by buggering off to Peterborough.

1990 Reach FA Cup quarter-finals under John Beck, only to lose at home to a Geoff Thomas strike for Crystal Palace. Pundits bemoan that the plucky underdogs have missed out on their “once in a lifetime” opportunity. United do it again the following year. In the meantime they become first side to win a play-off final at Wembley and take the Third Division title for good measure the following year. Incur wrath of media and Glenn Hoddle, then manager of a “silky” Swindon side, for our direct style.

1992 Fail to reach Premiership via the play-offs. FA re-write their rule-book to prevent another Wimbledon-type upstart mixing with the elite.

1998 Now under Roy McFarland, our fifth manager in six seasons, United beat Sheffield Wednesday in Worthington Cup, but then suffer humiliation of losing at Forest.

From WSC 146 April 1999. What was happening this month

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