This season marked 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
1989/90 Sunday 25th February saw the U’s at home to Southend United in Football League Division 4 fixture. Manager John Beck took a gamble and gave four players Colin Bailie, Chris Leadbitter, John Taylor and Dion Dublin half a game each to rest them for the FA Cup 5th round replay on Wednesday. The move worked and recent signing Steve Claridge, £75,000 from Aldershot gives United the lead and wins the penalty that Alan Kimble scores the winner from. Ex U David Crown scores Southend.
Wednesday’s FA Cup second replay proved to be lots of United fans favourite match. Both teams had injury and fatigue problems. Without actually scoring Bristol City had the best of the first half and were unlucky to go in at the break a goal down after Chris Leadbitter’s overhead kick in a packed goal mouth flew into the net. Almost straight after the break Lee Philpott doubled the lead with a stunning volley with his weaker right foot. The next 45 minutes were what some describe as the best half of United dominance they have ever seen. John Taylor makes four goals and scores one himself, maintaining his record of scoring in every round. The match finishes 5-1 to United and puts them into the quater-finals for the first time. Crystal Palace at home are next up. United are now in 11th place, ten points behind leaders Carlisle United, but with 3 matches in hand.
1969/70 A great feature of Bill Leivers managerial talents was his ability to regenerate the form of players who appeared to be losing their form and dropping back in the pecking order. This was the case with Bill Cassidy and Peter Leggett. Cassidy hadn’t been in the first team for a while and Leggett had recently returned from a loan spell. Both were given a starting place in the mid-week Eastern Counties Floodlit League match against King’s Lynn and played a prominent part in the 5-1 win, Cassidy scoring one and Leggett setting up four. Both were rewarded with a starting place in the next Southern League match at Hereford United where United dominated the first half after taking an early lead through George Harris. The second half was a different story however, Robin Hardy conceded an own goal when the ball bounced in off his knee. From then on United crashed, out going down 3-1.
Dennis Walker was the next United player to face suspension after he had been booked three times. He was banned for 14 days and fined £10! How times have changed. Walker had only been booked 7 times in his whole career and two of those when he was in Manchester United’s youth team. With Gilchrist departing back to parent club Charlton Athletic, Leivers was in need of another centre forward and he wasted no time in swooping for King’s Lynn striker Malcolm Lindsay for the princely sum of £750. A direct all action front man who had been the Linnet’s top scorer for several seasons, Lindsay made his United debut in the Floodlit League against Cambridge City and scored both goals in a 2-0 win. Interesting to note the attendance was over 3,000 for what was looked on as a second rate competition.