His last appearance in black and amber came just three weeks later, in a 2-0 loss at Cardiff City.
John Taylor, who had replaced Beck in the manager's chair, released Austin when it became apparent that United were doomed to relegation from Division Two.
After joining Kettering Town for the rest of 2001/02, he returned to League football with Bristol Rovers, and went on to play for Swansea, Chesterfield, Darlington and Boston United. He later worked as a coach with Scunthorpe United's academy.
He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in April of this year.
Former Celtic forward Jim, who arrived at the Abbey in 1962, was a ball player and joker par excellence. Seldom to be seen without his bowler hat and rolled-up umbrella – sometimes even on the pitch – he enjoyed a good wind-up as much as the next man.
Frank Dersley, who tended to injured players with his magic sponge in the 60s and 70s, remembered the time when Sharkey went down in the far corner of an Abbey pitch that had been saturated by days of torrential rain.
It was still pelting down, Frank recalled. ‘I ran across and was covered in mud and soaked to the skin by the time I arrived at Sharkey, and as I got there he looked up at me, winked and said: “Give us a kiss.” He had only feigned injury to get me soaked.’
One of Sharkey’s successors as clown prince was signed by Bill Leivers in 1974. Going by the name of Kevin ‘Call me Twinkletoes’ Tully, he was a gifted left winger and a dedicated japester who just didn’t know when to stop.
Some of Tully’s antics are recorded in Champagne & Corona, volume three of Celery & Coconuts, which is on sale via the CFU online store and at the caravan on match days..
He had once sat on the Blackpool bench fully clothed under his tracksuit, praying he wouldn’t be needed. A habitual thumb-sucker, he probably wasn’t too surprised when the players hung a huge baby’s dummy on his peg.
During a 4-1 win at Exeter at the end of 1974/75, Tully enjoyed top billing as United showed off a bit. At one point he knelt on the ball, daring the Grecians to try to take it off him, and later celebrated a goal by prancing around with his shorts at half-mast around his knees.
Ron Atkinson, Leivers’ successor as manager, eventually tired of the Tully capers. In his autobiography he noted that fines made not the slightest impression on the errant entertainer’s behaviour.
‘One day I’d had enough,’ recalled Big Ron. ‘I called him into the dressing room, locked all the doors, and clocked him.’
But Atkinson was fond of a joke too: ‘Even though I was always having to discipline him, some of his antics were so funny that there were occasions when I laughed at him instead of frowning.’
Our email enquiry to the PFA about the current status of the award met with a response from no less a personage than the union’s chief executive. ‘Yes,’ wrote Golden Gordon, ‘the award still exists, with prize money of £15,000 for community work and players and management.’
Established in 1988, it was of course named after a man who exemplified the spirit of fair play and was also one of the game’s greatest practitioners. Bobby Moore was, according to Franz Beckenbauer, ‘the best defender in the history of the game’, and Jock Stein observed: ‘There should be a law against him. He knows what's happening 20 minutes before everyone else.’
United’s connections with Moore don’t end with the capture of the 1997/98 trophy. As Andrew Bennett revealed in Risen from the Dust, the U’s provided the opposition to an all-star XI in Chelmsford manager Peter Harburn’s testimonial on 10 May 1966, and Moore and Geoff Hurst were among the guest players.
Hurst nabbed three goals in a 4-3 win for the stars. I wonder when his next hat-trick was.
They uncovered the vital roles played by women in the war effort, how families coped in the face of food shortages, hardship and the threat of aerial bombardment, and how Barnwell rolled its sleeves up and did its bit.
Accounts of the World War I experiences of Cambridge University undergraduates and dons are not difficult to unearth but narratives of the Barnwell working class, many of whom served their Varsity masters before signing up, have been all but ignored.
Barnwell at War reinstates the cultural memory of an area of Cambridge beyond the touristic gaze, and indicates a pattern of life for the majority of the UK population through an era of unparalleled trauma.
Researchers also sought to find out what became of the young men who played for the newly formed Abbey United Football Club in 1913/14, shortly before the outbreak of hostilities. They came very close to identifying those players; work in this area continues, with a possible breakthrough imminent.
Published by Lovely Bunch, Coconuts’ publishing operation, at £4.99 (£1 discount for CFU members), Barnwell at War is available through the CFU online store. It will soon also be available through the CFU caravan on match days, Cambridge booksellers and other outlets in the city.
The attractively designed booklet is illustrated by many seldom-seen photographs and features an introduction by Michael Hrebeniak, Coconuts committee member and Director of Studies in English at Wolfson.
Bedford again (won 4-1 with a Peter Hobbs hat-trick) or Barnet (lost 2-1 again) in 1964? Or maybe it was at City's ground in 1966 ( (lost 1-0) … no, that looks nothing like Milton Road as we recall it.
How about Lowestoft in October 1967 (drew 2-2 before a humiliating 2-1 reverse in the replay)? Could it be as late as September 1968, when the U's lost 1-0 at Kettering Town? Or even November 1969, when we went to Chelmsford City's New Writtle Street ground and lost 3-2?
Please, if you remember the 1960s, click on the image to enlarge and study it carefully. Then email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now they were faced with the prospect of a trip to a club of a similar standing to our friends in Guiseley: the Isthmian League’s Chesham United. The U’s were cast in the unfamiliar role of giants.
At a ground the Cambridge Evening News described as a ‘rustic cockpit’, the players trotted out on to the kind of surface that was all too familiar in those far-off days: a sea of mud. You could have counted the blades of grass on the fingers of one hand.
Those of the all-ticket crowd of 5,000 who were standing at the appropriately named Cow Meadow end greeted home goalkeeper Billy Barber with a grateful round of applause – two days before he had still been in Australia, where he had been visiting his fiancée.
As expected, the mud pit proved tricky. Pacy U’s striker Alan Biley found himself bogged down and goalkeeper Malcolm Webster struggled with his goal kicks. United fans, dreading a humiliating giant-killing, puffed with relief when home captain John Watt slammed an early 30-yard shot against the bar, leaving a muddy brown stain to remind us of a narrow squeak.
Roger Gibbins to the rescue: he blasted United into the lead after half an hour. Then, after brilliantly saving a Chris Turner header, the jet-lagged Barber was beaten by a George Reilly nod ten minutes from the end.
United had battled through the mire to a glamorous fourth round tie at home to Aston Villa. But that’s another story.
Order your copy of Champagne & Corona by visiting CFU’s online store or dropping in at the caravan on a match day.
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.