This season marks the 50th anniversary of Cambridge United’s last season in the Southern League which concluded in being elected into the Football League. Week by week we will look back on events of that memorable season and also 30 years ago, a season which saw the U’s win the first ever play off final at Wembley.
1969-70 Having won the previous season’s Southern League Cup and League Championship, manager Bill Leivers decided not to add any permanent signings to the squad claiming “don’t sell my players down the river, I feel they have earned the chance to carry on”. The pre-season friendly’s consisted of a home match against Ipswich Town reserves and home and away matches against Wigan Athletic. The latter matches being billed as the un-official non-league championship. Wigan having won the Northern Premier League the previous season. The U’s won 2-0 at Wigan with goals from Tony Butcher and Mel Slack. But Wigan reversed the scoreline back at the Abbey to make honours even between the two highest placed teams outside the Football League. The earlier match against Ipswich reserves was won 2-1 with goals from Bill Cassidy and Tony Butcher.
Football in 1969-70 England were still world champions, but not for much longer. The Football League contained a host of now established non-league clubs, Torquay United, Halifax Town, Southport, Barrow, Stockport County, Wrexham, Aldershot, Chester, York City, Workington, Darlington, Hartlepool and Bradford Park Avenue (more about them later). How times have changed!
The World in July 1969 Probably the most significant moment in history, Apollo 11 took Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin to the Moon and back, one truly giant leap.
David Bowie released “Space Oddity” about fictional astronaut “Major Tom”. Continuing the space theme Captain James T Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise appeared on British TV for the first time in Star Trek.
1989-90 Just missing out on a play-off place the previous season prompted manager Chris Turner to add four players to his squad. Lee Philpott came from county rivals Peterborough United. Micky Cook was picked up from Coventry City youth team and striker Martin Robinson and midfielder Danny O’Shea both arrived from Southend United.
The league season wasn’t due to start until 19th August. United had arranged six Friendly matches. The first three of these were all away, United travelling to Sudbury Town, Boston United and Barnet and all three finished with a different result. The U’s drawing at Sudbury 2-2, winning 3-1 at Boston and losing 3-2 at Barnet. John Taylor and Dion Dublin featuring amongst the seven goals over the three matches. A sign of things to come?
Football in 1989 The football world was recovering from and asking questions (and still are) about the Hillsborough disaster. Arsenal had piped Liverpool to the League title by the narrowest of margins in the very last game at Anfield. Nottingham Forest beat Luton Town in the final of the League Cup at Wembley and Liverpool beat local rivals Everton in a emotional FA Cup Final.
The World in July 1989 State President of South Africa P W Botha met the imprisoned 70 year old Nelson Mandela for the first time. Swing the Mood by Jive Bunny & the Mastermixers was completing three weeks at No.1. On Saturday night TV you could watch Michael Barrymore’s Saturday Night Out followed by Columbo and would you believe, Casualty.