Colin is a lifelong U’s fan, currently based out at Mildenhall and he contacted Coconuts a couple of months ago. Colin and his partner were in the throes of relocating and basically having a bit of a clear out and essentially downsizing the amount of ‘stuff’ they had to take with them. Colin grew up in Chesterton , not quite in sight of the floodlights but not far away. His Grandparents lived on Newmarket Road(and in turn his Dad) just doors up from the Abbey in what were known as ‘Gasworks Houses’ given their ownership by the firm several hundred yards more centrally up the main road.
He then moved to Sawston a couple of years before Utd got in to the League. He then journeyed through various Cambs villages before pitching up in Mildenhall for the first time in the 1990s. A two year ‘distraction’ down in Surrey followed before returning to Mildenhall where he has been for the past 25 years.
Colin has always been a huge collector of Utd memorabilia and in fact was an original member of the Cambridge United Collectors’ Club (headed by Denis Cooper, son of Arthur, esteemed landlord of the Royal Standard in Romsey) which met regularly in the early 90s.
I did know Colin’s name vaguely from his renowned metal pin badge collection which is available to see on the worldwide web and in fact it’s fair to say he inspired me to take up my obsession with the so-called “United in Endeavour” badge, the gold and white circular coffer item, featured as a badge of course on the recent much vaunted 50th anniversary shirt.(see below)
Colin was very keen to donate certain items to Coconuts and our museum and on the strict understanding that nothing would ultimately fall into private hands. And I gave assurances to him they would not. In early March we met in the salubrious surroundings of the car park at Tesco in Newmarket, right by the car wash, and Colin handed over two plastic crates of gear comprising everything from t-shirts, figurines, season ticket booklets, scarves, Marvin the moose dressed as Sooty(!), a signed football, a half and half(guess which), a raft of pen pics and stickers through to Colin’s much lauded collection of pennants going back to 1970 and a CEN Light Blue scrapbook to boot.
When I last spoke to Colin it seems they had settled on a property in Grantham, they had been looking as far north as Sheffield, and he was happy that excursions to the Abbey were still doable from there, whether by car or train, so we haven’t lost him yet! Let’s hope we can all share Colin’s donations on show in “The Story of the U’s” in time to come and, who knows, in League One too.
100 years of coconuts recently organised for a presentation between David Crown & Paul Mullin to commemorate Paul Mullin beating David Crowns League goals record scored in a season.
Paul Mullin recently beat David Crowns record of 24 league goals in a season, that has stood for 35 years!.
Both David Crown & Paul Mullin enjoyed coming together & talking about football & scoring goals.
They now plan to play together a round of golf later this year.
This article was published in the venerable When Saturday Comes magazine issue 12 back in 1987. In those days WSC was every bit a type-cut-and-glue fanzine as the others that were knocking around at the time, except that it bore allegiance to the beautiful game as a whole, rather than to a single club. It was the inspiration for Cambridge United’s “Abbey Rabbit” and hundreds of other fanzines. WSC is still going strong today.
Godric Smith would have not long been out of university when he wrote this. To anyone who followed the U’s at the time, I think you’ll agree it nicely sums up that particular period at the Abbey, the dismal seasons between John Docherty’s and John Beck’s great teams. David Moyes was still playing in 1987, yet to embark upon the managerial career that made his name. Let’s hope Godric doesn’t bump into him anytime soon! Keith Branagan did, as Godric predicted, make it to the first division, playing for Millwall and then Bolton in the Premier League. Similarly, the “dawn of the new age” at Cambridge United did indeed come to pass, with knobs on!
Mark Cooper had already gone to Spurs for £80,000, Peter Butler would follow Crown to Southend for £75,000 and, to complete the set, young keeper Keith Branagan was sold to Millwall for £100,000. Our four best and/or most promising players out of the door inside 12 months.
We didn’t know it at the time, of course, but the £285,000 transfer bounty allowed the club to clear its debts, reset and relaunch. Under Chris Turner’s management the ground was being prepared for John Beck and a new, young, highly ambitious set of players to … well, you know the rest!
In his final season at the Abbey David Crown scored nine league goals, 12 in all competitions. I still think he was worth far more than thirty grand. He should have gone to QPR, he’d have been the new Stan Bowles.
During his time with United, Crown scored a total of 45 league goals in 106 league games, 55 in 121 games in all competitions. I have checked and cross-referenced each goal. “The Moose That Roared” has him on a total of 46 league goals, I wonder if Andrew also thought Crown scored 25 league goals in 1985-86.
Crown kept on scoring after he left United; at Southend he bagged 61 in 113 games and at Gillingham, 40 in 87 games. No wonder, as he told “The Abbey Rabbit”, his TV Teletext page was constantly paused on the leading goal scorer’s page! (Teletext? Ask your dad!).
When we spoke, David was in no doubt as to how many league goals he scored in his record-breaking reason – 24. He has his own accountancy firm now, so numbers are important to him! He pointed out that he still finished as United’s top scorer in 1987-88, even though he left after just 17 league games. He did the same the season he left Southend for Gillingham, he added! He admitted to me he didn’t know about the very poor state of the club when he joined United, but he said he was happy to leave Reading as he had been getting some stick from fans there. Unbelievable, Jeff. He said he wasn’t aware of any interest from 2nd division clubs when he left United, and that, as far as he was aware, Southend paid £50,000 for his services. Still not nearly enough.
He currently works as a match day host at Southend United (covid permitting) but he has fond memories of Cambridge and his time at the Abbey – his daughter was born in the city. He does have one gripe, though: he says he did his left knee in at United. The injury wasn’t deemed worthy of an operation by the club; there were no same-day scans to check injuries out in those days, he lamented. A nasty skiing accident has since done for his right knee. Ouch. David kindly sent me a couple of (annotated) photos from his scrapbook, reproduced here. One shows him getting the better of Richard Money!
He has been back to the Abbey, quite recently in fact, to watch the U’s beat Gillingham 2-0 in the Papa Don’t Preach Trophy. He was impressed with what he saw, particularly the player who could well break his 35-year-old goalscoring record. He saw much more in him than just a goal scorer. He liked Harvey Knibbs, too, and the team’s shape and organisation. He thinks we are a good bet to go up.
Well, there you go. David Crown. What a goal scorer. What a top fella.
You can read The Abbey Rabbit interview with David Crown (and Peter Butler) in full here The article includes one of my photos from the Mansfield game.
Happy Harry's blog
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.