The local football family has lost a great friend and helper with the death, at the age of 66 on March 25, of former Cambridge United secretary Paul Daw.
It was Paul who researched and published United in Endeavour, the first history of Abbey/Cambridge United, in 1988. He discovered during his research that the club was formed in 1912 and not 1919, as had been assumed until then. That was followed by On the Up and First Team Match Statistics 1913-1991, both published in 1991.
His later years were devoted to the service of his hometown club, Saffron Walden Town, and a match in February at Catons Lane raised money for the ground’s newly named Paul Daw Stand.
Paul was born in 1950 and went to school in Saffron Walden, where he captained the football, cricket and athletics teams. He went on to play for Saffron Walden Town's first team in every position other than goalkeeper. He trained as a teacher in Bognor Regis, and used his time in Sussex to qualify as a referee.
Back home in Essex, he spent a year as a teacher in Dunmow before leaving to follow a career in the construction industry, while studying part-time and playing for Town in the Essex Senior League. On the resignation of the club secretary, Paul stepped in to fill the position and held it for the next ten years.
He was secretary of Cambridge United in 1985 and 1986, at a time when the club and, to some extent, football in general were in a state of turmoil. United were experiencing torrid times on the pitch under the management of John Ryan and Ken Shellito, and supporters were faced with the prospect of the introduction of Margaret Thatcher's proposed identity card scheme.
After marrying Marguerite in 1986, Paul joined residential developer Alan Reason Homes as chief surveyor, and continued to help his local football club in many capacities: as a player (he quit playing for the veterans side at the age of 62), supporter, historian, local press reporter and fundraiser among others, during a period in which the Bloods were able to join the Eastern Counties League.
Above, Paul Daw (right) presents a portfolio of his work on the history of Cambridge United to the Cambridgeshire Collection. Photo: Cambridge Evening News. Below, Paul, accompanied by pipes and drums, crosses the Catons Lane pitch with the newly named Paul Daw Stand in the background, 5 February 2017. Photo: Andrew Bennett.
He retired from a management role with Keith Collier Engineering in 2010 and devoted his energies to the rebuilding of the football ground. Other interests included stone circles and his local church choir.
Paul’s pioneering work as a football club historian was inspiring, and 100 Years of Coconuts is in his debt.