Coconuts was saddened to learn, following the death of Tickle Sanderson in August, that Cambridge United had lost another nonagenarian ex-player the previous month: Brian Holmes died on July 29, aged 91.
Wing half Brian, although better known for his career at Cambridge Town/City, played 46 times and scored two goals for Abbey United between 1947 and 1949, before crossing the river to join the Lilywhites.
Brian’s football ability first became apparent at Bottisham Village College and then with the Air Training Corps. A spell in India with the RAF saw him win station cups at Calcutta, Bangalore and Madras. On demobilisation, he played for Fen Ditton before moving down Newmarket Road to join the Abbey.
He made 26 United Counties League appearances, scoring two goals, for United during 1947/48, and played another ten games in 1948/49.
He made his first-team debut for Town in a friendly against DOS Utrecht in April 1949. Two years later, against Walton & Hersham in April 1951, he claimed the distinction of being the first scorer of an Athenian League goal for the newly renamed Cambridge City.
Brian had played 117 times and scored five goals for Town/City when his career was cut short by a knee injury: his final game was at home to Barnet on 5 December 1953. Earlier that season, he had played in City’s 3-1 FA Cup defeat to United in front of a crowd of 11,908 at Milton Road.
The funeral took place in Fen Ditton on August 23. He leaves a son, John, and daughters Carmen and Silvana.
Cambridge City historian Neil Harvey writes: Some of you may remember Brian as an education welfare officer working in Cambridge, and in the early 1980s I worked with him in the long-gone Gloucester Street offices of the county council. His stories of playing for and watching Cambridge Town/City helped to spark my interest in the history of the club. My favourite of Brian’s recollections was the day he saw the legendary Dixie Dean, allegedly under the influence, score eight goals in one game at Milton Road during the war. Brian was a guest of honour at the final game at Milton Road in 2013 and I had the pleasure of chatting with him on a number of times over the years long after his retirement from work.