Remembering Fifty & Thirty Years Ago This Week
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 After winning at Telford on Monday 16th March, the U’s travelled to Barnet three days later for a Southern League match. The hosts won the match 3-2 with the winning goal coming from a miscued cross flying into the top corner of Keith Barkers goal. Manager Bill Leivers described the goal as fluky. United now faced the prospect of playing 16 matches in 43 days with a squad of 16 including 2 goalkeepers.
Two days later, on the Saturday, Bath City came to the Abbey and packed out their defence in the hope of at least gaining a draw. But United snatched both points with a trade mark Bill Cassidy header in the 63rd minute. The following Monday the U’s were on the road again to Margate and came away with a 4-1 victory with two goals from Cassidy and one each from Colin Meldrum and Malcolm Lindsay. Leivers was now alternating the line-up for home and away matches playing a 4-2-4 at home and a sweeper system away with a three man attack of Cassidy, Lindsay and Harris.
At the Abbey on Easter Saturday, United were in fine form thrashing Hereford United 4-0 with Cassidy again scoring two, Harris and Meldrum getting the other goals. United were now up to fourth place, five points behind leaders Yeovil but with five games in hand.
1989/90 Just as in 1970 United were facing a fixture congestion, this time 16 matches in 45 days. Tuesday 20th March the U’s travelled to Torquay United and came home pointless and goalless. By any standards it was a poor performance and John Becks first half substitution of Dion Dublin for Steve Claridge did nothing to prevent a 3-0 defeat. A rare Sunday matchday saw United away at Doncaster Rovers and despite an improved performance went down by 2-1. An own goal by Liam Daish, attempting a back pass to John Vaughan with a very strong tail wind, and a bizarre goal from Rover’s Lee Turnbull while laying on the floor do the damage. Dublin getting the U’s consolation 7 minutes from the end.
Two days later United were away at Rochdale and slumped to yet another defeat, their fifth consecutive at Spotland, this time by 2-0. Rochdale took an early lead and basically sat on it until scoring a breakaway goal five minutes from time.
On Friday 30th March United had a welcome home match after three away defeats, Wrexham the visitors to the Abbey were clinging to their league status only five years after playing in the Cup Winners Cup. Again United were poor and Wrexham deservedly took the lead early in the second half and looked like hanging on to it until Dublin latched on to a back pass to give United an undeserved draw.
United had now played five league matches and gained only one point and were now in 16th place 19 points behind leaders Exeter and 10 points away from the play-off places.