Who remembers the Football League Review? You're showing your age if you admit it.
The magazine was produced by the Football League from the 1966/67 season to succeed Soccer Review, which had been published by a Leicester company called Sport & Screen, run by a certain Harry Brown, since August 1965. It was a mouthpiece for the Football League – some features were even tagged with the words 'This is an official League article' – and was inserted into many a League club's matchday programme. As you may have heard, Cambridge United joined that exclusive club in 1970.
In those days, a new club joining the League was far from the regular occurrence it is today. Ambitious non-League outfits had to apply to join and then, along with the bottom four clubs in Division Four, who were obliged to apply for re-election, wait for the League big boys to vote at the summer AGM. The oft-quoted 'old pals' act' usually saw to it that the status quo prevailed and the Div 4 failures lived to fight another day – the last club to be voted out before United replaced Bradford Park Avenue was Gateshead in 1960.
So there was a lot of interest in the new boys when the U's took to the League stage on Saturday, 15 August 1970, and the Football League Review sought to satisfy its readers' curiosity about the johnny-come-lately. The illustrations on this page are of two articles, the first published in the 1970/71 season and the second the following year. Love the accurate depiction of the open part of the Habbin on an inclement Barnwell day.
The first feature, published a few months into United's first League season, focuses on the club's early experience of the big time and warns: don't expect too much too soon. 'Some people seem to be under the impression we are still in the Southern League,' observes chairman Jack Woolley of the fans' seeming reluctance to embrace League football. 'There are even those who can't grasp we are no longer an Eastern Counties League club.'
In the second article, the League insists that it will not
always be swayed by the slick kind of PR campaign that helped to get United elected (alongside successive Southern League titles), although there aren't many who witnessed that campaign who would deny its ambition or effectiveness.
The third article, dating from around the halfway mark of the 1971/72 season, portrays a Cambridge United in confident mood and manager Bill Leivers sleeping more easily at night in his Elfleda Road home.
All this provides a fascinating insight into a vanished world: a world in which non-League clubs could dominate their competitions for years without gaining their due reward, and when the fourth division was still the Fourth Division. Click on the pictures to enlarge.