Six star performers on and off the pitch were inducted into the Cambridge United Hall of Fame during a celebratory dinner in the Abbey Lounge, home of the Supporters' Club, on Thursday, March 21.
Players Terry Eades, Steve Fallon and Tom Finney, manager Roy McFarland, commercial powerhouse Bill Cawdery and club historian Andrew Bennett joined their peers in the Hall of Fame, which is managed by 100 Years of Coconuts and recognises outstanding contributions to the story of the football club.
Eades, Fallon, Finney and McFarland were chosen by United supporters via online and paper voting, while Cawdery and Bennett were selected for induction by a Coconuts/ Cambridge Fans United electoral college.
‘The Cambridge United Hall of Fame recognises the work of people who have changed the history of the club significantly, one way or another,’ former Coconuts chair Pat Morgan told the press.
‘It doesn’t matter whether their contributions were on the pitch, in the dugout, in the boardroom, in the offices or on the terraces.
'The Cambridge United team is not just 11 players on the park on a Saturday; it’s every character who has ever played a part in the never-ending story that unfolds each week.’
Three of the new Hall of Famers were present to receive their mementos of induction: defenders Eades and Fallon and striker/midfielder Finney.
Mark Cawdery received his late father’s memento and Sam Wilson accepted his uncle Andrew Bennett’s award, while diners were able to watch a recording of McFarland’s acceptance speech.
The new inductees joined the existing Hall of Famers who have been inducted since the launch of the scheme in 2016: commercial manager Dudley Arliss, player/supporter Russell Crane, players Alan Biley, Dion Dublin, Wilf Mannion, Rodney Slack and Paul Wanless, player/managers John Beck and John Taylor, team managers Bill Leivers and Richard Money, stadium manager Ian Darler and supporter extraordinaire Lil Harrison.
Bennett’s induction to the Hall of Fame also served as the inauguration of the annual Andrew Bennett Award, which is intended to recognise extraordinary inputs to the club and its community.
It was instituted in memory of the late honorary club historian, archivist, writer and author of the Celery & Coconuts history of Abbey United/Cambridge United, who died in February last year.
Cambridge United director of football Graham Daniels presided over the ceremony, which was also attended by many supporters and ex-players including Andy Beattie, Alan Biley, Derrick Christie, Sam Harris, Peter Hobbs, Keith Lockhart, Rodney Slack and John Taylor.
Visit photographer Simon Lankester's Flickr account to view full coverage of the evening.
An edited version of this article appeared in the Cambridge United matchday programme for the game against Oldham Athletic on 9 March 2019.
If you’ve been supporting the U’s for fewer than sixty-six years – that’s most of you, then – you might think that our club’s quest for a new ground is a recent thing.
Younger supporters will be aware of our landlord’s attempts within the last few years to develop a sporting village featuring a state-of-the-art stadium at Trumpington.
That grand scheme fell by the wayside, as have attempts over the last twenty years to get developments going at Milton, up towards Quy on the Newmarket Road, on various sites in the city and in the Ian Darler’s back garden. I made that last one up.
There have also been numerous ill-fated plans for the redevelopment and/or expansion of the Abbey. Most of them got no further than the drawing board before being pooh-poohed by the city council’s planners, but we did get as far as the erection of the South Stand before the rest of that scheme, which would have involved the redevelopment of the front of the ground, was shelved.
That’s all recent history, and the saga isn’t finished yet. We’re waiting to hear whether the Abbey will be redeveloped some day or whether we’ll eventually be playing in a New Abbey somewhere else.
But United had occupied the present site for only twenty years when there was an outbreak of itchy feet among the club’s directors.
The first game on our present territory was played in 1932. Before that United played on the Midsummer and Stourbridge Commons, on Parker’s Piece and at the fabulously named Celery Trenches, very close to the present site of the Abbey.
But delve into the minutes of 1952 board meetings and you’ll find references to the mooted new ground directors wanted to build on the opposite side of Newmarket Road, just the other side of Barnwell Bridge.
If their work had borne fruit, the U’s would have come full circle with a return to the place that saw the first Abbey United games in 1912 – Stourbridge Common.
At the site directors had in mind, however, ‘there would of course be no restriction as to development upon this ground for this type of sport, nor would there be any restrictions as to crowd capacity within limits.’
Board members busied themselves behind the scenes by lobbying the planners, but to no avail: the city council objected to the proposed development. It had, it said, acquired the land in question for use as a refuse tipping area and in the longer term it wanted it to be zoned for storing civil defence materials – Cold War tensions and fears of nuclear war were high at the time – or for use as a lorry park.
The chief constable weighed into the debate, saying that, even if United reached the Third Division and attracted crowds of 15,000, dispersing them from the current ground wouldn’t pose much of a problem. And that was that.
But we can still have some fun in trying to identify the land that United wanted to occupy.
Much of it is today occupied by the industrial estate, just the other side of the bridge, where some supporters park on a match day. Before that, and before the council used it as a tip, it played an important role in the history of Cambridge’s brickmaking industry.
For the last twenty years of the nineteenth century and the first thirty of the twentieth, Newmarket Road was the focal point of an industry that made use of the thick seam of ‘blue’ gault clay that lay beneath Barnwell. The bricks it produced are preserved in the distinctive pale cream of the Cambridge area’s houses and public buildings.
When, in 1977, Hilda Swann set about jotting down her memories of the brickyards whose factories, chimneys and huge clay pits once dotted the area, she recalled four operations.
To the left of the road if you were heading into the city, opposite Stanley Road, was the business of Watts & Co, which was also a timber merchant. Further along was the Cambridge Brick Company’s yard.
The Cambridge (Stourbridge) Brick Company was approached from Cheddars Lane, the other side of Newmarket Road, while near Barnwell Bridge stood Swann’s Brickyard, part of a larger family business founded by Hilda’s ancestors Henry John and Alfred Swann, and trading under the name of H&A Swann Brothers. The Swanns’ land is the area we’re interested in.
It extended to Garlic Row, and until Stourbridge Fair, once Europe’s largest annual marketplace, finally faded into history in the early 1930s, the fence along this edge had to be set back to make room for the business of selling and merrymaking. The other boundaries were formed by the Common, the railway and Newmarket Road.
Ever wondered how Swanns Road got its name? Now you know.
I’m happy to give a plug to 100 Years of Coconuts’ second home and the priceless source of a wealth of local history: the Cambridgeshire Collection. It’s where the photograph of HC Swann and his employees at the brickyard, taken in about 1910, comes from and also where you can find Hilda Swann’s beautifully handwritten memories.
It’s also where those United board meeting minutes can be found, among an invaluable stash of documents and other artefacts donated to the Collection by one of those directors who were in 1952 dreaming of relocation: local signwriting legend Cyril Swainland.
The map reproduced above comes from a time when ‘Marshalls Ltd’ still offered cars for hire and driving tuition by ‘qualified RAC instructors’, and when our neighbours across the river were still known as Cambridge Town.
Substitution crept gradually into the game, but it wasn’t until the mid-1960s that the first subs in the English professional game stripped off. Before then, if a player couldn’t continue, you were either down to ten men or you soldiered on with ten and a quarter.
So it was essential to United manager Alan Moore that the eleven men he chose to play at Hereford in November 1962 were fighting fit. This fact seems to have been lost on wing half Mike Bottoms, who had been signed from QPR not long before.
We haven’t got a photograph of Bottoms, so the picture on this page depicts a recent Coconuts committee meeting discussing possible inductions to the Cambridge United Hall of Fame.
An old injury had recurred the previous week but Bottoms told anyone who would listen that he was raring to go, 110 per cent on top of his game, couldn’t wait.
The Hereford game was only a couple of minutes old when, as you have doubtless guessed, he broke down and thereafter had as much effect on the game as would Long John Silver without his crutch. His fellow U’s fought bravely but came away 2-1 losers.
Moore, not a big man but one capable of instilling fear in a fighting-drunk honey badger, was amused neither by Bottoms’ name nor by his deception.
‘I would have suspended him for a month but for the fact he has a nice family and I can’t see them go without any wages,’ he raged. ‘As it is, I have told him that he will never kick another ball for my first team.’
It transpired that U’s trainer Roy Kirk had passed on players’ fears that Bottoms might not last the 90 minutes, so Moore had called him in.
'I prodded all round the injury and there was not a peep out of the player,’ fumed the manager, ‘but within three minutes of the kick-off this old injury recurred and the team was let down.’
Bottoms’ United career was over after just 11 appearances – some of them quite short – and his contract was cancelled soon after.
Former Celtic forward Jim, who arrived at the Abbey in 1962, was a ball player and joker par excellence. Seldom to be seen without his bowler hat and rolled-up umbrella – sometimes even on the pitch – he enjoyed a good wind-up as much as the next man.
Frank Dersley, who tended to injured players with his magic sponge in the 60s and 70s, remembered the time when Sharkey went down in the far corner of an Abbey pitch that had been saturated by days of torrential rain.
It was still pelting down, Frank recalled. ‘I ran across and was covered in mud and soaked to the skin by the time I arrived at Sharkey, and as I got there he looked up at me, winked and said: “Give us a kiss.” He had only feigned injury to get me soaked.’
One of Sharkey’s successors as clown prince was signed by Bill Leivers in 1974. Going by the name of Kevin ‘Call me Twinkletoes’ Tully, he was a gifted left winger and a dedicated japester who just didn’t know when to stop.
Some of Tully’s antics are recorded in Champagne & Corona, volume three of Celery & Coconuts, which is on sale via the CFU online store and at the caravan on match days..
He had once sat on the Blackpool bench fully clothed under his tracksuit, praying he wouldn’t be needed. A habitual thumb-sucker, he probably wasn’t too surprised when the players hung a huge baby’s dummy on his peg.
During a 4-1 win at Exeter at the end of 1974/75, Tully enjoyed top billing as United showed off a bit. At one point he knelt on the ball, daring the Grecians to try to take it off him, and later celebrated a goal by prancing around with his shorts at half-mast around his knees.
Ron Atkinson, Leivers’ successor as manager, eventually tired of the Tully capers. In his autobiography he noted that fines made not the slightest impression on the errant entertainer’s behaviour.
‘One day I’d had enough,’ recalled Big Ron. ‘I called him into the dressing room, locked all the doors, and clocked him.’
But Atkinson was fond of a joke too: ‘Even though I was always having to discipline him, some of his antics were so funny that there were occasions when I laughed at him instead of frowning.’
Our email enquiry to the PFA about the current status of the award met with a response from no less a personage than the union’s chief executive. ‘Yes,’ wrote Golden Gordon, ‘the award still exists, with prize money of £15,000 for community work and players and management.’
Established in 1988, it was of course named after a man who exemplified the spirit of fair play and was also one of the game’s greatest practitioners. Bobby Moore was, according to Franz Beckenbauer, ‘the best defender in the history of the game’, and Jock Stein observed: ‘There should be a law against him. He knows what's happening 20 minutes before everyone else.’
United’s connections with Moore don’t end with the capture of the 1997/98 trophy. As Andrew Bennett revealed in Risen from the Dust, the U’s provided the opposition to an all-star XI in Chelmsford manager Peter Harburn’s testimonial on 10 May 1966, and Moore and Geoff Hurst were among the guest players.
Hurst nabbed three goals in a 4-3 win for the stars. I wonder when his next hat-trick was.
Bedford again (won 4-1 with a Peter Hobbs hat-trick) or Barnet (lost 2-1 again) in 1964? Or maybe it was at City's ground in 1966 ( (lost 1-0) … no, that looks nothing like Milton Road as we recall it.
How about Lowestoft in October 1967 (drew 2-2 before a humiliating 2-1 reverse in the replay)? Could it be as late as September 1968, when the U's lost 1-0 at Kettering Town? Or even November 1969, when we went to Chelmsford City's New Writtle Street ground and lost 3-2?
Please, if you remember the 1960s, click on the image to enlarge and study it carefully. Then email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy Harry's blog
I'm the living embodiment of the spirit of the U's, and I'll be blogging whenever I've got news for you, as long as I don't miss my tea.