Matt Ramsay's story
Matt explained in 2012 why he's Cambridge till he dies.
League Cup Second Round Second Leg, 22 Sept 1998:
CUFC 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday.
There are certain things other than the match itself that stick out in the mind of a ten-year-old who is new to the world of live football. Many such feelings stay the same more than a decade later. The sight of the Abbey Stadium floodlights from halfway down Newmarket Road heightens the sense of anticipation that has been brewing since leaving the house. It builds further as the crowds become denser, the floodlights grow brighter and the programme sellers loom into view.
Although this wasn’t the first match I ever attended, it was the first in Cambridge. And although I wasn’t to follow the club regularly for another seven years, it was on this night in 1998 that I could first call myself a U.
While everyone remembers their first game, that evening took on an extra significance because of the result. Roy McFarland’s men made national headlines as a club in the basement division of the Football League knocked Premier League opposition out of the League Cup. Sheffield Wednesday were to finish 12th in the top flight that year, yet their side, containing Benito Carbone and Paulo Di Canio among others, couldn’t overcome ‘little old Cambridge’.
Despite it being my first game at United, there was no question about who I was supporting that night. Never mind the hope of seeing the big names and full internationals, never mind hoping for a good competitive game. I wanted to see the U’s cause a giant-killing and defend their lead from a shock 1-0 win at Hillsborough in the first leg.
Only two moments of action can still be recalled: the two goals. Each
reflects the contrasting emotions that summarise the life of a football fan. Having held their star-studded adversaries for almost 70 minutes, Jamie Campbell’s freak headed 20-yard own goal summed up the cruelty the sport can display. Yet just as supporters began to console each other with the knowledge that at least it was a valiant effort, the magic moment arrived.
Just as football is cruel when it goes against you, success brings delirium. As Trevor Benjamin thumped home a right-wing free kick to put United back into the lead, and as the whistle 15 minutes later heralded a major Cup upset, there was proof that there is reward for fans' eternal hope.
While more recent seasons have brought more distress than delirium for the fans of Cambridge United*, the days will come when the patience pays off. It’s why we follow the club, the reason I’m Cambridge till I die.