An edited version of this article appeared in the Cambridge United matchday programme for the game against Crewe Alexandra on 30 December 2017.
Fellow Cambridge United supporters! Prepare to exercise your democratic right to determine which playing heroes of the past 100-plus years should take their place in your club’s Hall of Fame.
It’s almost that time again. From Saturday, January 13 you will be able to vote via the Hall of Fame website (cuhalloffame.org.uk) or on paper at the CFU caravan before home games.
The results will be announced at a swish, star-studded induction dinner in March – stand by for announcements of ticket prices and arrangements. Last year’s dinner was a roaring success and tickets sold out in a flash, so best to keep that credit card close by you.
This year, you’re voting for players in three categories: pre-1970, 1970-1989 and 1990-2005. A Committee of the Wise has already decided on the identities of three other inductees: a manager, an ‘off-pitch’ personality and the recipient of a special 100 Years of Coconuts management committee award.
Your mission – and you really should choose to accept it – is to vote for one player in each category. From the pre-1970 shortlist, choose between Harvey Cornwell, Terry Eades, Joe and Tony Gallego, Johnny Haasz, Wilf Mannion and Len Saward.
From the ranks of the 1970-1989 heroes, you’ll be deciding between Brendon Batson, Alan Biley, Steve Fallon, Tom Finney, Andy Sinton and Dave Stringer. Those shortlisted in the 1990-2005 category are Steve Claridge, Liam Daish, Andy Duncan, Alan Kimble, John Taylor and John Vaughan.
Hang about, I hear you cry. Explain yourselves, Coconuts committee! How come my favourite U’s player of all time, Reg Barnwell, isn’t shortlisted? Why does Terry Eades figure in the pre-1970 category when his most impressive displays came in United’s first Football League era, after 1970? What does Dave Kitson have to do to get in the frame? I’m only 18; how am I supposed to know who the dickens Harvey Cornwell and Johnny Haasz are?
They’re all valid questions. To answer most of them, remind yourself that you’re voting in just one iteration of the Cambridge United Hall of Fame induction process, and there will be more. Perhaps your idol, be it the aforementioned and entirely fictitious Reg Barnwell, Dave Kitson or Devon White, will appear on a future shortlist. Perhaps he’s already been inducted. Perhaps the committee felt Terry Eades’s pre-League contribution alone made him worthy of nomination.
As for the question of how younger fans can hope to choose from a bunch of players they’ve never heard of, the answer is simple: consult your copies of Newmarket Road Roughs and Risen from the Dust.
The first two volumes of Celery & Coconuts, Andrew Bennett’s history of Abbey/Cambridge United, describe these players’ finest moments, and provide all the facts and figures you could want. I shouldn’t need to remind you that, if you’re one of the few U’s fans who haven’t already bought these essential books, you can rectify the error by visiting the CFU online store (cambridgefansunited.org/store/c4/Books.html) or the caravan on a match day.
I promise I’m not trying to influence your vote by using a photo of Harvey Cornwell on this page; I just thought you’d like to see it. It shows him playing his last game for Thursday Wanderers, on Jesus Green on 16 April 1955. The Wanderers’ opponents, City Police, showed scant respect for the 59-year-old Grand Old Man of Cambridge football by winning 13-1.
This article appeared in the Cambridge United matchday programme for the match against Mansfield Town on Saturday, 21 January 2017.
The Coconuts chaps were talking the other day. They do a lot of that, and there’s usually tea and chocolate digestives involved; even doughnuts sometimes. This time, for a change, they were yakking about something important: Andrew Bennett’s brilliant book about the early history of our club, Newmarket Road Roughs.
It’s been selling really well, and if you haven’t got your copy yet, get along to the CFU caravan or online store before they’re all gone – just £14.99 to you.
Andrew spent thousands of hours researching at the Cambridgeshire Collection, but he was far from the first U’s fan to make use of that excellent resource. Long before 100 Years of Coconuts was a twinkle in Dave Matthew-Jones’s eye, the history of Cambridge United was being studied by Paul Daw, and the result was his trio of books: United in Endeavour (covering the period 1912 to 1988), On the Up (1988 to 1991) and First Team Match Statistics (1913 to 1991).
While his time at Newmarket Road wasn’t as chock-full of achievement, it wasn’t without its challenges. He was unlucky enough to join the U’s during the mid-1980s, when the tenures of John Ryan and Ken Shellito were threatening to undo all the good work of the previous 70 years.
Packed with the fascinating stories of the characters who saw our club, always firmly based in its community, through its formative years and on to the brink of national recognition, Newmarket Road Roughs comes with details of every game played by Abbey United in its first 40 years, plus league tables and playing records.
Those appendices alone are worth the cover price of £14.99 for this attractively designed hardback book – the first of many to come from Andrew Bennett and Lovely Bunch. To preorder your copy, go to cambridgefansunited.org/store/c4/Books.html or visit the CFU outlet on a match day. Alternatively, drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org. Members of CFU enjoy a £1 discount.
We’ll let you know when your copy of Newmarket Road Roughs is available to pick up or is in the post. By choosing to collect from the CFU caravan you will avoid the postal charges of £2.99 for normal post and £5.99 for Royal Mail special delivery.
Happy reading! The past will soon be present.
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.