An edited version of this article was originally published in the Cambridge United matchday programme on 18 April 2015.
On the right is the United Youth team of 1959/60. Click on the image to enlarge and you'll be able to pick out Peter Bowstead – he’s the one kneeling on the right. Peter is an old friend of Coconuts and a member of Cambridge United Former Players’ Association, and he can name every player in the photograph.
At the back, from the left, are Alan ‘Tosh’ Carter, Conrad Lodziak (also known as Conrad Houghton), Brian Page, Vic Phillips, Gerald Butler, Roger Smith, Tim Langran, Derek Potter, David Harrison and John Hiner. At the front are Charlie Irvine, Dave Wisbey, Brian Tailby, Tony Willson, youth team secretary John Munns, assistant secretary Gerry Farrington, Graham Ward, Richard Wilson and our friend Peter. We’re indebted to the Cambridge News for the photograph.
This was an amazingly successful team. They won 62 and drew four of the 70 games they played that season and won the Chiltern League, the Chiltern Challenge Cup and the Cambs & District League.
Some of them, like wing half Peter, became professionals. He made 11 U’s first team appearances before signing for Oxford United for a ‘substantial’ fee in 1962, at the age of 18. He played eight League games and scored twice for Oxford, but injuries blighted his career – he suffered no fewer than four leg breaks. Nevertheless, he played for the likes of King’s Lynn and Chelmsford City before retiring to work as a bricklayer. He still lives in the Cambridge area, like Tony Willson, Vic Phillips and maybe one or two others.
Inside forward Graham Ward played 35 times for United and nearly joined Watford. He moved instead to Wisbech Town and later played for Bury Town, Haverhill Rovers and Soham Town Rangers. Are you out there, Graham? We would love to hear from you.
One of the group was less successful at football (being, in his own judgment, ‘crap’) but followed a fascinating career path.
Inside forward Con Lodziak lied about his age and appeared for the U’s under his mother’s maiden name because he didn’t want his school to know he was playing football. At one time you could get detention at the County (more formally known as Cambridgeshire High School for Boys, which morphed into Hills Road Sixth Form College in the 1970s) if you were found meddling in the round-ball game. You should hear Con’s story of what he and his mate Silvio did to schoolmate Roger Waters. Whatever happened to him?
The son of a Polish soldier who married an Isleham woman, Con carried on playing football, for Purbeck Rovers among others, taught at St Bede’s and published the influential Understanding Soccer Tactics in 1966. He upped sticks for the United States to pursue an MA and PhD in social psychology, before being asked politely to leave by the FBI: the Bureau took a dim view of links Con had forged, while trying to help obtain grants for students, with the Black Panthers, the revolutionary African-American party that played an important part in the civil rights movement of the 60s.
Back in Blighty, Con taught at Trent Polytechnic while continuing to enjoy his football. He carried on publishing too, embracing such philosophical topics as The Myth of Consumerism and The Power of Television. Nowadays he lives in south-west France while family members like brother Mark (inexplicably a Spurs fan) and nephews Martin and Stephen (U’s men both) hold the Lodziak fort here. There are eight million stories on the naked terrace. This has been one of them. Tell us your story – email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our photographer had his box Brownie handy when U's players of yesteryear gathered for a natter at the latest Cambridge United Former Players' Association get-together on Monday night.
Names familiar to fans from the 1950s onwards had a little drink and a chat, and renewed old friendships, at Cambridge United Supporters' Club, whose clubhouse has been rebranded as the Abbey Lounge. Check out some of the attendees in these pictures – and if you know of any ex-U who would like to become a member, drop us a line at email@example.com.