This season marks the 50th anniversary of Cambridge United’s last season in the Southern League which concluded in being elected into the Football League. We will look back on events of that memorable season and also 30 years ago, a season which saw the U’s win the first ever play off final at Wembley.
1969/70 The first Southern League away fixture was at Gloucester City where some United players described the pitch as resembling a riverside meadow with thistles and long grass cut down and rolled in. Manager Bill Leivers commented “it’s one of the reasons we are so keen to get out of the Southern League”. The home side took an early lead but the U’s equalised through Tony Butcher on the half hour mark. In the 67th minute goalkeeper Rodney Slack brilliantly saved a penalty from Gloucester centre forward Farrow and the match seemed to be drifting towards a draw until Mel Slack (no relation to Rodney) beat the home teams offside trap by dribbling through the defence to score a superb winner to give the U’s their first league win of the season. The following Tuesday United travelled to Burton Albion for the first leg 1st round Southern League Cup match. The home side winning a drab match by the only goal which came in rather bazaar circumstances from an indirect free kick (what happened to them?) three yards from the goal line, for which United had all 11 players lined up on the goal line. After three shots were blocked the forth squeezed in. The game was marred by a worrying nerve injury to Rodney Slack. Off the pitch local businessman Reg Smart was invited to join the board to fill the vacant space after Bill Silks death.
1989/90 The opening day fixture saw United travel to Grimsby Town. In an uneventful match the U’s came away with a point from a 0-0 draw. This was the day the famous Cambridge Moose was born. An unwashed fan just back from holiday tells his mates to stay clear because he smells like a Moose. They immediately bust into a chant of “Moose, Moose, Moose”. New arrivals from Southend United Martin Robinson and Danny O’Shea featured in a starting line up of Vaughan, Bailie, Kimble, Leadbitter, Chapple, Daish, Dennis Beck, Dublin, Taylor, Robinson and sub O’Shea. The first round of the League Cup saw United take on league new boys Maidstone United over two legs. In first leg at the Abbey United ran out 3-1 winners with two goals from Dion Dublin and one by Chris Leadbitter. On Saturday 26th August Hereford United were the visitors to the Abbey Stadium intent on defending they managed to take the points back to the Welsh border with a 1-0 win. Steve Divine with a 25 yard blockbuster, scoring the only goal.
Football in August 1969 After four matches three teams, Liverpool, Everton and Wolves were level on a maximum 8 points (2 for a win in those days). Scunthorpe United with a very young Kevin Keegan in the squad were sitting 19th in Division 4 having won one of their 3 matches.
The World in August 1969 The second Isle of Wight pop festival attracted 150,000 music fans with the appearance of Bob Dylan. The Beatles walked across the Zebra Crossing in Abbey Road, creating a famous album cover. Shame it wasn’t the Abbey Stadium!
Football in August 1989 After just one match the very early 1st Division table had a familiar look with Manchester United and Liverpool sitting in first and second. Slightly un-familiar Coventry City and Norwich City were 3rd and 4th. Scunthorpe United lost their opening match 1-0 at local rivals Lincoln City.
The World in August 1989 Betteshanger the last coal mine in Kent closes, brining to an end the 93 year history of coal mining in Kent