The Cambridge United family lost a fondly remembered member with the death, at the age of 85 on December 16, of former left winger Ray Colfar.
A rapid raider with a powerful shot who could create goals as well as finish them, Colfar was at the Abbey Stadium for just one season in 1961/62, but made 60 appearances in all competitions, scoring 14 times.
His signing from Crystal Palace in the summer of 1961 was something of a coup for U’s player-manager Alan Moore, whose manoeuvres in the transfer market were constrained by a weekly wage budget for his entire squad of £200.
He had won the Athenian League with Sutton United and gained promotion from the Football League Fourth Division with Palace, before falling out of favour with Eagles manager Arthur Rowe. Colfar had told Moore that, in return for a favour whose nature was not made known, he would have first refusal if he decided to leave Selhurst Park. Palace asked £2,500 when they acceded to the 24-year-old’s transfer request.
His season with United yielded silverware in the form of the Southern League Cup and he impressed throughout with, as the Cambridge Daily News described it, his ‘jet-paced speed and deft ball control’.
In a remarkable Southern League Premier Division match at home to Kettering, United were trailing by 2-0 with just 23 minutes to go, but Colfar inspired his teammates to run riot with five goals in the closing stages, scoring one himself.
Moore had turned down offers for his star winger from Romford, Yiewsley and Chelmsford, but didn’t stand in his way when Southern League champions Oxford United came calling. The other U’s, newly elected to the Football League, paid £2,000 for Colfar’s services, and he featured in their first ever League game, at Barrow on 18 August 1962.
At the Manor Ground he played alongside three personalities who would later make considerable impacts at the Abbey: brothers Graham and Ron Atkinson and striker Harry ‘Bud’ Houghton.
Thereafter his career took in Southern League clubs Wimbledon and Guildford.
Born on 4 December 1935, Colfar made little impact on the football world in his native Liverpool, but he started to attract the attention of League clubs when, at the age of 17, he moved to London and joined Kingston Boys’ Club. Chosen to represent the National Association of Boys’ Clubs, he played against the Welsh association at Wembley and also against Scotland and the Air Training Corps.
West Ham signed him as an amateur, and he played for the Hammers’ ‘A’ and Combination
sides before spending two seasons with Sutton and then, in 1958, turning professional with Palace.