Cambridge United lost a link with its Southern League Cup-winning side of 1965 with the death, at the age of 81 on January 21, of Billy Day.
The speedy outside right, born on 27 December 1936, enjoyed a stellar career with his hometown club of Middlesbrough before moving to Newcastle and Peterborough and then becoming a favourite of the Abbey Stadium crowd for two seasons.
After signing for Boro from local club South Bank at the age of 18, he was dubbed the ‘flying winger’ for two reasons: his blistering pace and his habit, while on national service in Germany, of flying home every weekend to play. His son Colin told the Teesside Gazette: ‘He’d get home about 7am on a Saturday, have an hour’s sleep, and then be straight to play a game.’
His national service stint also saw Day become the forces champion in the 100 yards.
Day laid on countless goals for Ayresome Park legends Brian Clough and Alan Peacock, and scored 21 himself, during his 131 Middlesbrough games.
Signing for United in the summer of 1964, for an undisclosed fee from Peterborough, he made an immediate impression in a 2-1 pre-season friendly win over Colchester, and started the Southern League season on the right wing.
Despite coming in for rough treatment from defenders – notably those of Cambridge City and Folkestone – he was outstanding as the season wore on and United progressed towards a Southern League Cup final against Weymouth. He set up three goals in a 4-2 third round win at Nuneaton, and scored in the two-leg final as the U’s triumphed 3-1 on aggregate.
By the time the 1964/65 season had ended, Day had played in 70 matches, but his second season at the Abbey was fraught with difficulties.
Having vied with Wes Maughan for the right-wing spot, he was transfer-listed at his own request before Christmas 1965. Injured in a Boxing Day loss at Bedford, he did not attract any offers and later came off the list.
A debilitating attack of pleurisy affected the second half of his season and he was released at the end of the term, having scored 11 goals in 100 appearances in amber and black.
Day then launched a new career in bookmaking. He started as manager of a betting shop and set up on his own as an on-course bookie in 1970, becoming a familiar figure for decades at horse and greyhound courses in his native North-east.
He died in hospital after a battle with dementia, leaving sons Richard and Colin, daughter-in-law Sue and grandchildren Sophia and Richard. Day’s wife of 61 years, Irene, predeceased him in December. The funeral will take place at 2.30pm on Monday, February 5 at Middlesbrough Crematorium.
Their mother placed five of her kids in an orphanage, but they were soon on their way to Britain aboard the liner Habana. They settled well in Cambridge – and football played a big role in the process.
‘Football meant everything to us; it was the only thing we knew about,’ Antonio (known as Tony) told El Pais in 2012. ‘We got attached to Cambridge and made a lot of friends here through playing football.’
Goalkeeper Tony and winger José (Joe) signed for Town as teenagers. Tony moved to the Abbey in 1943 before rejoining Joe at Milton Road, spending time as a professional with Norwich and then returning to United in 1947.
Joe left Town for Brentford and went on to play for Southampton and Colchester, but came back to United in 1951.
The Gallegos stayed in Cambridge for the rest of their lives, Joe dying in 2006 at the age of 82 and 90-year-old Tony passing away in 2015. I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts rang out loud and proud at the funeral.
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.