We at 100 Years of Coconuts, along with Cambridge United, were privileged to welcome the families of Teddy Bowd and Ray Freeman – both United heroes who died recently – to the Abbey Stadium for the Port Vale game last Saturday.
The families, guests of the club, stood with the rest of the crowd as a minute's applause for the two former U's rang out around the stadium before kick-off.
Afterwards, they joined supporters and club officials in the Premier Travel Suite to raise a glass to the memory of two men who did much to raise the profile of the club they served with distinction.
Sadly, we didn't manage to capture a photograph of the Ray Freeman group, but Teddy's family gathered in the home dugout for our photographer (above, right).
And we're pleased to say that we have secured evidence of the attendance of (possibly) United's youngest supporter – three-week-old Milo, grandson of Ray.
Milo is said to have slept throughout the game, thereby missing a determined, disciplined 1-0 win for the U's.
There have been games we would have been glad to sleep through, but this wasn't one of them.
We’ve had own goal stars in amber, of course. Top of the og scorers’ table is Steve Fallon, who notched five during his Abbey career, claimed three in 1984/85 and even managed two in one match that season, at York.
Fal played a total of 446 games for the U’s, so his average actually isn’t as bad as it looks at first glance.
We have to get a bit more up to date to find the fastest own goal ever scored by a U. It came when Exeter visited for a Division Three game on 12 April 2003 and the guilty party was Izzy Iriekpen, who glanced a header deftly past Shaun Marshall from James Coppinger’s cross a mere 22 seconds into proceedings.
There were few recriminations afterwards: John Turner’s last-minute goal gave the U’s a 2-1 win.
But Izzy’s praiseworthy effort looks insignificant when you compare it to Torquay defender Pat Kruse’s amazing feat on 3 January 1977.
The quickest own goal in Football League history came when, from the kick-off, United’s Dave Stringer lofted a high ball into the Gulls’ penalty area and Kruse headed it past his keeper, Terry Lee. It had taken him just six seconds to claim his place in the record books.
The story behind Kruse’s cock-up is almost as funny as the accomplishment.
The Plainmoor pitch that day, with ice in one goalmouth and a mud lake in the other, was tricky. United keeper Malcolm Webster, not knowing which end he would be defending first, took the field wearing one boot suitable for mud and one for a harder surface, donning a second studded boot when he found himself at the muddy end.
Trainer John Simpson (pictured, bobble-hatted, on an earlier occasion with Ron Atkinson and Ray Freeman) scurried off to the dressing room with the rejected footwear.
Lee should have followed Webby’s example. He had chosen the wrong boots for the ice-bound end and, when Kruse thoughtfully tried to give him an early touch, he skidded away, out of control, while the ball trundled gently past.
Shortly afterwards, Simpson emerged from the dressing room. Unaware that the U’s were ahead, he assumed the hosts were kicking the game off when in fact they were restarting it.
He remained in that state of ignorance until after the final whistle. Thinking his brave boys had lost, he was unconvinced when the players claimed they had gained a point with a 2-2 draw.
And they had done so without scoring: United’s second goal came from a Phil Sandercock og in the 44th minute.
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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.