To watch the video see the link below ????
The detail of United’s election in 1970, and the preceding dramas, is drawn from Risen From The Dust, one of a series of books on Cambridge United’s history (Celery & Coconuts) by Andrew Bennett, published by 100 Years of Coconuts, the heritage arm of the Cambridge United Supporters Trust.
Jimmy Thompson 1943-2020
The Cambridge United family was saddened to hear of the death, on October 28 at the age of 77, of former full back Jimmy Thompson, whose career in black and amber straddled two eras of the club’s history.
Joining Bill Leivers’ Southern League side in 1969, as the U’s strove for the league and cup double and election to the Football League, Jimmy was one of the famous eleven who played in the club’s first ever League game in August 1970. Over five seasons he made nearly 250 appearances in all competitions.
A rapid, highly dependable right back, he mixed solid defensive attributes with the ability to start and continue attacks, and on one occasion supplied the finishing touch.
Jimmy arrived at the Abbey Stadium in January 1969, via an unusual route. Born in the former coal-mining community of Felling, Tyne and Wear in 1943, he had played as an amateur for Preston North End before signing a professional contract with Grimsby Town in 1961. He became a popular fixture at Blundell Park, playing more than 150 times before, in 1967, asking for a transfer. Leivers was keen to sign him at that point but the Mariners hoisted a £10,000 price tag – a hefty fee for a defender at the time. He was eventually released from his contract provided he didn’t sign for an English League club, and moved to Port Elizabeth.
Jimmy swapped South African sunshine for wintry Newmarket Road in January 1969. He made his debut (along with fellow new signing Mel Slack) in a Southern League Cup quarter-final against Chelmsford City at the Abbey, which ended in a 0-0 draw but provided a stepping stone for a triumphant end to the season in which United captured both the cup and the league title.
As at Grimsby, Jimmy became a well-liked regular in the U’s side over the following four seasons. In 1969/70 he racked up the remarkable total of 68 full appearances and two substitutions, and he was there on 15 August 1970 when Lincoln City visited the Abbey for United’s debut in the Football League.
A knee cartilage operation in 1973 brought his career to a halt and it was a sad blow when, later that year, he was advised to quit professional football. He had played 239 full games for United, made five substitute appearances and scored one goal – in the club’s last ever Eastern Professional Floodlit League, a 3-2 win at Romford in May 1971.
United paid up Jimmy’s contract, giving him £1,000, but his insurance company would only contribute a partial payment of £375 because his knee had degenerated before the injury that finished his career. A disgusted Leivers said: ‘There isn’t a footballer playing today who hasn’t got ankle, knee or groin troubles after a few years in the game.’ United kept Jimmy in employment as field manager in the commercial department.
The club also put on a testimonial match for the popular player, although he had to wait until May 1975. Supporters showed their admiration for Jimmy by turning out in large numbers – 7,257, to be precise – to see his All Stars XI, which included Ian Hutchinson, Geordie Armstrong, Willie Carr, Terry Mancini and Dave and Bob Worthington, lose 4-2 to a strong Norwich City team.
Legendary U’s goalkeeper Rodney Slack remembers his teammate as ‘a nice, quietly spoken lad who was great in the dressing room. He knew what he was talking about when it came to football, and he never tried to shift the blame for his mistakes. He always put his hand up.’
Rodney recalled fondly the night the Corona soft drinks depot next to the Abbey Stadium caught fire. ‘It was two o’clock in the morning and the houses nearby were being evacuated,’ he said. ‘Jimmy, who lived next door to the depot, came running across the road to our house with his pride and joy, his two Doberman Pinscher dogs. No sign of his wife or daughters.
‘We feared the worst. “Where are they?” we asked.
‘“I’m just going back for them now,” Jimmy said.’
Jimmy subsequently returned to the Grimsby area. He was afflicted by dementia in his later years but retained some memories of his Mariners and U’s careers.
He leaves a widow, Wendy, children and grandchildren. The funeral will be private.
For the event, Will Barrett and Gabriella Giannachi from the ECFC Museum & Grecian Archive will be joined by Roger Titford (The Great Save, Supporters Trust At Reading, and writer for When Saturday Comes), Alex Alexandrou (The Football & War Network and Solihull Moors FC), Tim Bland (National Lottery Heritage Fund) and Richard Irving (The FSA).
The event begins at 10am on Wednesday, November 4, and can be joined at the below link:
• Meeting ID: 960 6921 7248
• Password: 510675
Should you wish to confirm attendance for the event in advance, or have any thoughts or questions, then please do contact the event coordinator via firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note, the three initial presentations will all be recorded via Zoom for documentation, research, and sharing, so please do let the hosts know if you would like them to ensure that you are excluded from any of the disseminated footage.
100yearsofcoconuts have purchased a flag to celebrate the clubs 50th anniversary since being elected into the Football League.
Having won the Southern League in 1970 the club were voted into the league replacing Bradford Park Avenue.
The flag was paid for from the profits following the launch of the Anniversary T'shirt
The T'shirts are still available to order by clicking on the buttons below.
Malcolm Webster was a dependable, brave, athletic, efficient and occasionally awe-inspiring goal keeper for Cambridge United, He played in 286 games for the U’s as they rose from the Fourth Division to the Second and stayed there for six seasons.
He kept 90 clean sheets during that time, 22 of them coming in his debut season of 1976/77, when he was ever present as United won the Fourth Division title.
Malcolm is a native of Doncaster, where he was born on 12 November 1950, but it was in north London that he made his first impression on football. He was 18 when he made his League debut for Arsenal, being thrown in at the deep end against Tottenham at Highbury when Bob Wilson broke an arm. The Gunners lost 4-3 but Malcolm kept his place until he was floored for 12 weeks by glandular fever and the club signed a replacement in Geoff Barnett.
He played around 100 times for both Fulham and Southend but fell out of favour at Roots Hall and was released in 1976. Disillusioned with football, he was working in a friend’s furniture store when he was given a month’s trial by U’s boss Ron Atkinson. His first appearance came in a behind-closed-doors pre-season friendly against Mansfield at the Abbey, won 3-1 by the visitors.
Malcolm’s United career really kicked off in the first leg of the League Cup at Oxford on 14 August 1976, when he was outstanding in a 1-0 defeat. A string of impressive performances and a couple of penalty saves earned him a permanent contract, which he signed following a 4-0 September win over promotion favourites Watford.
Quickly establishing himself as a lively presence in the dressing room, a reliable shot-stopper and – despite a previous reputation as vulnerable to crosses – commanding in the air, Malcolm made the number one spot his own and was voted player of the year by Supporters’ Club members.
That season was the start of a happy and fruitful stay at Newmarket Road that saw the club establish itself in Division Two under John Docherty. Malcolm’s last game as a U came in a 0-0 draw at Oldham on 4 February 1984, but he was back in 1986 as Chris Turner began the process of turning United’s fortunes around.
After a break from football starting in 1988, he began a coaching career that was remarkable for its longevity and successes. Malcolm was in great demand as a coach, both at club and at the goalkeeping school he ran.
Below is Malcolm's best ever eleven -
Brendon Batson. Chis Turner. Steve Fallon. Jamie Murray.
Steve Spriggs. Tom Finney. Floyd Street Willie Watson.
Alan Biley. George Reilly
Best Manager.John Docherty
Best Physio.Pete Melville.
Malcolm Webster’s All Time Best XI
Keith Brannagan- Goalkeeper. Born in Fulham and joined United straight from school. Made his debut at seventeen years old. Was an ever present in the 1986/87 season and played a total of 138 first team games for the U’s, before joining ex manager John Docherty at Millwall for £100,000.
Brendon Batson- Right Back. Born in Grenada, West Indies in 1953. Signed for Cambridge United from Arsenal in 1974 for the bargain price of £5,000 after manager Bill Leivers had been quoted £50,000 a few months earlier. The first black player to appear in the Gunners first team and featured ten times before his move. Was captain and an integral part of Ron Atkinson’s Forth Division Championship team. Overall played 180 first team matches for the U’s before joining up with Atkinson at West Bromwich Albion.
Chris Turner-Centre Back. The only player to feature in as an all time favourite for both Cambridge United and Peterborough United. A true legend at the Abbey and London Road. Played 100 matches for the U’s and later became manager, turning fortunes around after the disastrous regimes of John Ryan and Ken Shellito and setting up the foundation of John Beck’s double promotion team.
Steve Fallon- Centre Back. If it wasn’t for a knee injury at 29 years old it’s almost certain Steve would of been the record appearance holder for United. As it is, he is only bettered by Steve Spriggs. Within a month becoming United manager Ron Atkinson went back to former club Kettering to snatch Steve from under the noses of Peterborough. Played a total of 447 first team games and was awarded Cambridge Evening News Player of the Year award a record three times.
Jamie Murray- Left Back. Possibly the best full back to play for United. Scottish by birth but moved with his family to Aylesbury when he was 5 years old. Joined United in 1975 from Rivet Sports along with team mate Floyd Street. A total of 269 appearances for the U’s, including 147 consecutive matches from November 1980 to January 1984. Also played for Sunderland and Brentford.
Steve Spriggs- Midfield. Cambridge United’s record appearance holder and a mainstay of the double promotion winning team of the seventies. Short in stature but big on endeavour, effort and dedication. Hard tackling and with a ferocious shot, Steve was the heart and soul of United for 12 years and played under six different managers. Total of 448 appearances and 60 goals.
Tom Finney-Midfield. The idol of the Habbin Stand regulars in the 1970’s. The Northern Ireland international joined United from Sunderland in 1976 and became the first current international at Cambridge, winning seven more caps while at the Abbey, including going to the 1982 World Cup in Spain. Brave to the extent of foolhardiness, Tom never pulled out of a tackle and won a reputation with referees that dogged him throughout his career. A total of 352 appearances and 65 goals.
Floyd Streete- Midfield. Turned professional with United at 16 years old after coming off a factory production line an playing part-time for Rivet Sports in Luton. Floyd was a powerful midfield with the build of a heavyweight boxer who could also fill in at centre back and even up front. A total of 142 appearances and 20 goals.
Graham “Willie” Watson- Midfield. A true Cambridge United legend. A fans favourite for most of the 1970’s. Willie’s enthusiasm, spirit and dedication combined with great vision made him the first name on the team sheet for almost a decade under three different managers. The £5,000 United paid for him is described as the best money they ever spent. After six years he was sold to Lincoln for £15,000 then came back on a free transfer. Total of 233 appearances and 30 goals.
Alan Biley- Forward. Speedy left winger turned into a striker by United’s assistant manager Paddy Sowden when he was snapped up from Sowden’s previous club Luton Town. A skilful, fast goal scorer with lots of flair and an eye for the spectacular. Became something of a cult hero with United fans with his Rod Stewart hair cut and George Best habit of clutching the inside of his shirt cuffs which tended to rip the stitching from the shoulder. Total of 187 appearances and 88 goals.
George Reilly-Forward. United paid a club record £140,000 for George when he moved from Northampton in 1979. He soon struck up a partnership with Alan Biley. The pair knocking in 13 goals in 10 games before Biley left to join Derby County. Reilly left United for Watford in 1983 and played in the 1984 FA Cup Final, He went on to play for Newcastle and West Bromwich Albion before Chris Turner brought him back the U’s in 1988. Total of 178 appearances and 50 goals.
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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.