It was with great sadness that 100 Years of Coconuts learned of the death, on 31 January 2019 at the age of 92, of Teddy Bowd, a flying outside right who starred for Cambridge United in the early to mid-1950s.
Teddy was a speedy winger who earned the nickname 'The Touchline Terror' during a spell at United’s cross-town rivals Cambridge Town, who became Cambridge City in 1951.
He joined Bill Whittaker’s United in 1952 and, over four seasons, made 99 appearances in all competitions, scoring 16 goals and laying on many more for his teammates.
Proud, dignified and uncomplaining to the last, he was the last known remaining member of the Whittaker teams that first brought a little club founded a mere 40 years before to national attention.
Teddy was born in Cambridge on 28 September 1926 and at first lived in Ross Street. His parents, Rachel and Edward, ran the Five Bells in Cherry Hinton High Street from 1937 and he lived in the village for the rest of his life, apart from his time in the army.
The young Teddy soon made his football prowess clear, appearing for Cambridge Schoolboys and Cambridge Juniors. He played alongside another future U’s legend, Russell Crane, for the Central School team that won the the Schools Cup in April 1940.
At the age of 16 he joined Saxons – a new club on the Cambridge scene – before receiving his call-up papers in early 1944.
He served for more than two years with the Royal Signals in Malaya during that country’s war of liberation. While in Malaya he played football for Malayan Command Signals and the Selangor state team.
Back home by 1948, Teddy found a job as a clerk at Marshall’s and returned to football at Saxons. In 1950 he married his Cherry Hinton High Street neighbour Elizabeth Lane and the couple had two daughters, Jennifer and Sandra.
He moved on to Camden United and, in 1950, having already gained his county colours by playing for Cambridgeshire, to Cambridge Town.
At Milton Road he was feted for his exceptional pace allied to a powerful shot, and he was described by the Cambridge Daily News as ‘sixty-four inches or thereabouts of human dynamite’.
In two seasons at Town he played 76 games and scored 24 goals. Notable appearances included his first game at Milton Road, against Bromley, which was also the club's first fixture in the Athenian League, and in a 2-2 friendly draw against Sparta Rotterdam in May 1951 that marked that year's Festival of Britain.
Teddy signed for United in 1952 and played 11 games in his first season, but it was during the club’s famous FA Cup run of 1953/54 that he experienced his finest hour in black and amber.
He was the outstanding player in a first-round 2-2 draw against Newport County at Newmarket Road on November 21, giving left back Doug Hayward a roasting as United laid siege to the County goal for the last half-hour. He also starred in the replay five days later in south Wales, which United won 2-1, and in front of 10,000 U’s fans as United lost 2-1 to Bradford Park Avenue in the second round.
It was in another Cup match against Football League opposition, at Torquay United on 20 November 1954, that Teddy sustained the cruciate ligament injury to his left knee that would eventually end his football career.
United, effectively down to ten men, lost 4-0. During the long train journey home, Teddy put an elastic bandage on the damaged knee, only to fall into unconsciousness when it restricted his blood flow. He woke up in the guard’s van, and recalled in 2014 that it was 12 months before he could walk well.
His football career came to an end the following season but his love of sport continued to manifest itself in a bowls career that saw him reach the national stage with a triples appearance in the English finals.
Teddy continued to work as a buyer for Marshall’s until his retirement at the age of 64.
Teddy Bowd (above) pictured in his early-1950s prime and (below) with his Schools Cup-winning Central School teammates in April 1940. He is sitting second from left in the front row, with future United colleague Russell Crane to his left
Index card containing information from Teddy Bowd's time at Cambridge Town. Photo courtesy of Neil Harvey
Above, Teddy Bowd (third from right) listens as Bill Whittaker plots FA Cup progress. Below, left, front row with the team that played Newport County in the FA Cup first round on 21 November 1953
Teddy Bowd with daughter Jenny Free during a visit to The Story of the U's, 100 Years of Coconuts' mini-museum, in March 2016