Ian’s Kruse to a world record
Always happy to correct an error, especially when it involves an old friend and a world record.
The pal in this case is Ian Seddon, who plied his cultured midfield trade with the U’s between 1976 and 1977, racking up 47 appearances and four goals for Ron Atkinson’s side. The world record is that for football’s fastest own goal.
Let it now be proclaimed: the ‘assist’ for the fastest ‘oggy’ in English and even world football – scored by Torquay United’s Pat Kruse in a Division Four match against United on 3 January 1977 – should be attributed to Ian Seddon. Somehow, Coconuts got its facts twisted when it credited the assist to Dave Stringer back in 2018.
The own goal took just six seconds and was greeted by stunned silence on the Plainmoor terraces. It was so quick that United physio Ron Simpson, who had been in the United dressing room when the game kicked off, had no idea that a goal had been scored and afterwards took some convincing that the U’s had gained a point with a 2-2 draw.
Ian tells a cracking story – for evidence, have a look at Ah’m Tellin’ Thee, his entertaining biography of Bolton Wanderers and England full back Tommy Banks; available on the usual book sales websites – so let’s listen to his account of the record-breaking events. Bear in mind that the frozen, rutted pitch, with one muddy goalmouth thawing slightly, was barely playable that day.
‘We had a set week-in, week-out kick-off routine,’ Ian recalls. ‘Ron always wanted the ball long behind the full back, even if it went out of play – he wanted to put the emphasis on the opponents getting out of their last 20 yards.
‘When Tom Finney played the kick-off back to me it hit a rut and I didn’t catch it clean, resulting in the ball swerving inside the wide centre half, Pat Kruse. He raced back inside the box towards his goal and headed it past the goalie (Terry Lee), who was sprinting out of goal to collect. They almost collided.’
Referee Tony Glasson’s opening ‘pheep!’ had barely died away and the U’s were a goal ahead. Remarkably, they went two up just before half-time when Phil Sandercock supplied the game’s second own goal with a spectacular header from a Tommy Horsfall cross.
The Gulls’ failure to win a game in which they scored all four goals is legendary on the English Riviera. It has even inspired Torbay musician Ian Churchward to compose the song The Fastest Own Goal and feature it on his album Thrilling Blunder Stories.
It was a strange day all round, and the weirdness was in keeping with the rest of the weekend, Ian remembers. ‘Ron had taken us to Devon over the new year, to train before the game,’ he says. ‘For some reason we were billeted at a holiday camp. The place was closed, although the canteen was opened for us, but there was no heating in the rooms, which were absolutely freezing, and there was nothing to occupy us after training. A few of the lads who made the trip were recovering from injury – Graham ‘Willie’ Watson was one.
‘After one full training session, Big Ron summoned John Simpson to collect a golf driver from his room. Ron then commenced driving balls into the wooded ravine below the complex, demanding that Willie and the other lads recovering from injury “go fetch”.
‘Seeing Willie and co panting and puffing on endless sorties like gun dogs seeking shot-down pheasants was embarrassing to the rest of us, but in true football teammate humour the cheek of it brought a smile.’
Willie remembers the incident slightly differently. Ron was armed, he recalls, with both a driver and a pitching wedge or similar. Willie, as the senior member of an injured duo with full back Bill Baldry, ensured his younger colleague was dispatched to fetch the manager’s shots from the driver, while reserving the shorter wedge shots for himself.
Not like Willie to take the easier option, observes Ian with a grin.
Tale tellers: Tommy Banks (left) and Ian Seddon
Afternoon, folks. Hope you are all well. For the usual pragmatic deadlines these notes are quite early but I trust the bubble of euphoria is still inflated following recent cup advancements.
22 January is an interesting date in the life history of CUFC but during the 2010-11 season(of blur) in the Conference(then BSP) we saw an entertaining fixture at the Abbey v Wrexham. Lest we forget that nine seasons after leaving the dreaded our friends in north Wales are still there. Sobering.
At the time Wrexham were flying in the playoff positions whilst the U’s were floundering(at best middling) in the lower half of the table. By half time the game was effectively over as the Dragons had cruised in to a three goal lead with Andy Mangan, Chris Blackburn and Paul Pogba hitting the old onion bag. Did you spot that……? It was actually Matias Pogba. He’s still playing you know, in France. Only 31. Robbie Wilmott pulled one back just before the hour but a consolation only. The Wrexham line up had some interesting names that day, coached by a certain Dean Saunders. Frank Sinclair, Dean Keates, Andy Morrell and in goal…………..Chris Maxwell. Pretty much his hometown where he spent four seasons and made 76 league appearances. Before moving on and up to the Cod Army in Fleetwood. Not so sure I ever knew the first part of his journey. Always worth having a coffee over when you’re at home.
That season Wrexham ended up in the playoffs(fail) and we were stuck in 17th position on 50 points and a goal difference of -8. Poor. One thing of positivity. Errea from Italy were producing our kit at the time. Hardly the most imaginative of designs but the shade of amber remains up there in the pantheon and spot knocking-off of both previous and subsequent colours.
Enjoy the game and keep safe. Remember, there’s only one United.
Afternoon, all. Hope you enjoyed your football-free break. At least for you cricket fans out there(and there are many I know), the England team will return victorious from Australia shortly.
Welcome to Pompey this afternoon. Did you see that Fratton Park ranked at no 20 in FourFourTwo’s 100 Best Football stadiums in the UK survey? We’re at 81.
We’re going back to our first fixture of 1983 for our stroll back down Cut Throat Lane way today. A home game in division two against Blackburn Rovers who were sitting ninth in the table at the time whilst we were struggling in the bottom four. In truth our second division days were starting to run out. We managed miraculously to stay up that season and actually finished a very creditable 12th, one spot below the Rovers. Looking at some of the crowds in the first half of that 1982/3 season it is clear to see that the Cambridge public were becoming disenchanted with second division life too. The 1983/4 season though was a disaster from the start and we finished rock bottom, 24 points from safety.
The programme for the Blackburn game was a brief affair dictated by the time of year. Some interesting highlights though. The Goal Sponsors’ page is interesting and who could fail to notice a certain Peter Mills from Ditton Fields. He of indomitable Supporters’ Club doorman fame! Some of you older fans will recognise quite a few players in the Rovers line up. Simon “goals” Garner, Derek Fazackerley, infamously on the bench for Newcastle through various management regimes, now assistant to Karl Robinson at Oxford. And Mr Blackburn Rovers himself, Tony Parkes. Six spells as caretaker manager between 1986 and 2004 must surely be a record. When he left for Blackpool eventually he even got them promoted via the playoffs. I must also make comment about Blackburn’s shirts, surely one of the most identifiable in our game. Consistently in blue and white halves since 1878. Did you know though that the halves have been switched nearly ten times over the years? Looking at the shirts front on we have blue on the right hand side which has prevailed for three seasons following a switch from the other side in 2018-19. The halves design appeared for the first time in 1878 and then the blue(albeit navy) was on the left hand side. Clearly never set in stone.
Finally for today a chance to celebrate the birthday on this day in 1892 of one John Ronald Ruel(JRR) Tolkien. Tolkien was English but actually born in Orange Free State in S Africa. Works such as The Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion propelled his status and he became the Father of High Fantasy. Tolkien died in Hampshire in 1973 having been made a CBE just the previous year. In 2002 a poll conducted by the BBC voted him the “92nd greatest Briton”. Praise indeed.
Enjoy the game.
Afternoon and seasonal greetings from the old codgers at Coconuts. I hope those who travelled to the Valley by boat last week enjoyed themselves. I certainly did. Sunday was a very quiet affair.
We’re travelling back to 18 December 1999 for our bout of reminiscence on the programme front today and a third tier encounter with the Latics from Oldham. This was our 21st competitive encounter since we entered the League in 1970 and to this day I still harbour bitter memories when I hear mere mention of their name; this goes back to the three epic Cup ties in the first half of January in 1974. Ending in bitter disappointment at the City Ground, Nottingham(home of Nottingham Forest, NOT Notts Forest as I was reminded recently by an avid reader) on a dank Monday afternoon on a ‘gluepot’ of a pitch. Even the Oldham manager admitted that the better team lost. Remarkably my old man let me go with him and miss school for the day. He was stricter than a methodist minister with a bull whip but suspect my old dear would have said he was a bit more selective when it came to the mighty U’s!
Generally the atmosphere around the club seemed quite positive. Whilst the previous game against Barnet had been postponed we were still coming off knocking Crystal Palace out of the FA Cup third round. Redemption for nearly ten years earlier, maybe. That game was on a Friday night so early signs even then nearly a quarter of a century ago that the FA Cup was, let’s be honest, being messed around with. Anybody remember as well why the third round was as early as December? Me neither.
Leafing through the programme I thought the sponsorship page was interesting. Whatever happened to “the Buglies”? Answers on a postcard please to CB5 8LN. And there is evidence that Cambridge United Supporters’ Club sponsored players. How times have changed, eh? And some very familiar old faces on Graham Eales’ PR page…..you know who you are. God bless Andrew Bennett. And lots of CUFC/Oldham connections highlighted which we don’t see so much of these days in programmes. Anyway, the Latics beat us 3-2 that day and completed the double the following April with a 1-0 victory.
Finally, on this day in 218 BC, which even Colin Proctor won’t remember(!), Hannibal’s Carthaginian army commenced battle with the Romans in the second of the Punic Wars in the battle of the Trebia fought on Italian soil. By 23 December Tiberius Sempronius Longus had been heavily defeated and it took until 202 BC for the Romans to finally tame the leader/warrior from N Africa. You are duly enriched.
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.