This article appeared in edited form in the Cambridge United matchday programme for the game against Crawley Town on Wednesday, 26 December 2018.
We’re not announcing the results of the 2019 Cambridge United Hall of Fame vote yet – the process doesn’t even close until the year does – but it’s been interesting to see certain trends emerging.
Among the nominations for pre-1979 players and managers, there’s been a healthy number for the human brick wall that was Terry Eades, for Abbey United legend Harvey Cornwell and for the hugely talented inside forward Len Saward, among other star names.
Another popular nominee is Brian Moore, the Belfast-born forward who, across four seasons in black and amber from December 1956, made scoring goals look like child’s play.
Imagine watching someone score 113 goals in 161 U’s games, including 68 in one astonishing season. Now do your best to imagine that someone scoring all those goals while effectively blind in one eye.
Moore made light of a disability that would have finished most footballers’ careers before they had started. And when he’d finished at Newmarket Road, he crossed the river to become a hero at Cambridge City … and then at Wisbech Town, Boston United and Newmarket Town.
His career would have been very different had not fate, and a heavy leather football, intervened.
As Andrew Bennett related in Risen from the Dust, Moore’s displays for Glentoran and Distillery had attracted big clubs’ attention in 1955, and his early showings for West Ham promised great things to come.
He was only 21 when he was hit in the face during a fixture at Middlesbrough. He managed to play on but it was found that the ball’s lace had so badly damaged the retina in his right eye that he was effectively blind on that side.
Moore, advised that another such blow could deprive him of sight altogether, stopped playing, even though a degree of blurred vision began to return to the damaged eye. Then along came Bert Johnson.
The United player-manager offered him incentives to return to the game in Cambridge that proved irresistible: a job with Pye Telecom and the chance to play for the U’s alongside the legendary Wilf Mannion.
It wasn’t long before he was thrilling supporters with goals and skills galore, with the help of teammates like Mannion and Ron Murchison calling to tell him when their passes were arriving on his 'blind' side.
In his annus mirabilis of 1957/58 he just couldn’t help scoring: he’d racked up 30 goals in all competitions before Christmas and reached 68 in a mere 52 games.
New manager, new rules: for the 1960/61 season his namesake gaffer Alan Moore, who had followed Johnson and Bill Craig, decreed that his squad would all be full-time footballers, placing his star striker in a quandary.
Not wanting to lose his job at Pye’s, he left for Milton Road and a new chapter in an amazing career.
It was with sadness that 100 Years of Coconuts learned of the death, at the age of 81 on November 28, of former Cambridge United forward Eddie Robinson.
Eddie was a gifted winger or inside forward who joined United at the age of 22, for the club’s first season in the Southern League in 1958. He made 62 appearances, scored 23 goals and gained many admirers before departing for Cambridge City in late 1959.
Made chief accountant at Pye Engineering Services in 1962, he showed skill in highlighting errors in business plans and was appointed as a troubleshooter at Pye head office in 1968. He spent many years improving productivity at the company’s UK and international divisions.
In 1981 he set up a successful jewellery business, but a drop in the price of gold in 1984 forced a return to accountancy. He then worked for small companies around Cambridge until 1987, when he took up the role of credit controller for Marshall Aerospace and Specialised Vehicles. Following retirement in 2000, he focused on improving his golf game and on doting on his grandchildren: Lauren, Jack, Shelley, Elliot and Albert.
The funeral will take place at 12.45pm on Tuesday, December 13 at Cambridge Crematorium.
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