It was great to hear from our old friend Vic Phillips recently, writing about another of his brushes with greatness.
As Vic is always quick – a bit too quick if you ask me – to point out, he wasn’t quite good enough to make it as a professional footballer, but he did make seven first-team appearances for the U’s between 1957/58 and 1961/62.
He was a star of the highly successful United youth side of the late 1950s, and good enough to be selected to represent Cambridgeshire in a youth challenge match against West Ham’s youngsters at the Abbey Stadium on 1 October 1958.
Among the young Hammers, wearing the number four shirt that night, was a certain 17-year-old by the name of R Moore. He had made his senior team debut about three weeks before, against Manchester United.
‘It’s interesting to note,’ writes Vic, ‘that as our Brian Moore was leaving West Ham to join Cambridge United, Bobby Moore was showing Hammers scouts that he was worth another look. You might find this piece of history interesting.’
You bet your sweet bippy we do. Vic continues:
‘It was a big night for us lads of Cambs County. Bobby Moore, the kid who was going to stun the football world, was coming to town, with other young Hammers of some note.
'There were five of us from Cambridge United playing that night and one of them (Tony Willson) is still my mucker. I suppose we all hoped we would make it but it wasn’t to be.’
Here I should point out that Brian Hart, the first United player to be selected for international honours when he played for England Youth in May 1959, signed for West Brom a few months later. He spent several years at the Hawthorns before moving on to the Southern League clubs Nuneaton Borough, Cambridge City and Wellington Town, and played at Wembley in two FA Trophy finals. Watch Brian on Coconuts TV here.
Carry on, Vic.
‘However, to play against Bobby Moore and have him pull my shorts down was a privilege and I have dined out on the story a few times.’
I never made professional
‘The Cambs side went on to play London Youth at Stamford Bridge, where another star played – one Terry Venables.
‘It’s such a long time ago now, and sometimes when my knees give me gyp I wish I had never seen a football. Hey-ho, but it was a great time for us and Cambs County.’
Pages from the Cambs v West Ham programme, reproduced above, show that the United Five were Vic, Tony, Brian, Roger Tailby and Dave Stocker.
The West Ham side is bristling with future pros like Harry Cripps, Jack Burkett, Bobby Keetch, Eddie Bovington, Derek Woodley, Andy Smillie, John Cartwright and Tony Scott.
Oh, and shorts-puller Bobby Moore.