Mark Cooper had already gone to Spurs for £80,000, Peter Butler would follow Crown to Southend for £75,000 and, to complete the set, young keeper Keith Branagan was sold to Millwall for £100,000. Our four best and/or most promising players out of the door inside 12 months.
We didn’t know it at the time, of course, but the £285,000 transfer bounty allowed the club to clear its debts, reset and relaunch. Under Chris Turner’s management the ground was being prepared for John Beck and a new, young, highly ambitious set of players to … well, you know the rest!
In his final season at the Abbey David Crown scored nine league goals, 12 in all competitions. I still think he was worth far more than thirty grand. He should have gone to QPR, he’d have been the new Stan Bowles.
During his time with United, Crown scored a total of 45 league goals in 106 league games, 55 in 121 games in all competitions. I have checked and cross-referenced each goal. “The Moose That Roared” has him on a total of 46 league goals, I wonder if Andrew also thought Crown scored 25 league goals in 1985-86.
Crown kept on scoring after he left United; at Southend he bagged 61 in 113 games and at Gillingham, 40 in 87 games. No wonder, as he told “The Abbey Rabbit”, his TV Teletext page was constantly paused on the leading goal scorer’s page! (Teletext? Ask your dad!).
When we spoke, David was in no doubt as to how many league goals he scored in his record-breaking reason – 24. He has his own accountancy firm now, so numbers are important to him! He pointed out that he still finished as United’s top scorer in 1987-88, even though he left after just 17 league games. He did the same the season he left Southend for Gillingham, he added! He admitted to me he didn’t know about the very poor state of the club when he joined United, but he said he was happy to leave Reading as he had been getting some stick from fans there. Unbelievable, Jeff. He said he wasn’t aware of any interest from 2nd division clubs when he left United, and that, as far as he was aware, Southend paid £50,000 for his services. Still not nearly enough.
He currently works as a match day host at Southend United (covid permitting) but he has fond memories of Cambridge and his time at the Abbey – his daughter was born in the city. He does have one gripe, though: he says he did his left knee in at United. The injury wasn’t deemed worthy of an operation by the club; there were no same-day scans to check injuries out in those days, he lamented. A nasty skiing accident has since done for his right knee. Ouch. David kindly sent me a couple of (annotated) photos from his scrapbook, reproduced here. One shows him getting the better of Richard Money!
He has been back to the Abbey, quite recently in fact, to watch the U’s beat Gillingham 2-0 in the Papa Don’t Preach Trophy. He was impressed with what he saw, particularly the player who could well break his 35-year-old goalscoring record. He saw much more in him than just a goal scorer. He liked Harvey Knibbs, too, and the team’s shape and organisation. He thinks we are a good bet to go up.
Well, there you go. David Crown. What a goal scorer. What a top fella.
You can read The Abbey Rabbit interview with David Crown (and Peter Butler) in full here The article includes one of my photos from the Mansfield game.
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.