The story continues from 1970 and 1990 on the U's journey up the leagues we reach the end of Janaury
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 Saturday 24th January saw the U’s travel to bottom placed Burton Albion for a Southern league Premiership match. It was on loan striker Paul Gilchrist who gave the U’s a 1-0 win in what was described as a “robust encounter”. Amazing to think that the match was watched by only 890 people, how times have changed at Burton! United were now in third place three points behind leaders Wimbledon with four games in hand.
Next match up was the second round FA Trophy tie away to Bromsgrove Rovers who were managed by ex England goalkeeper Gil Merrick. Bromsgrove, who played in the West Midlands League, took the lead through a Brian Grant own goal and despite Keith Barker saving a penalty from ex England winger Mike Hallawell his brother John doubled the hosts’ lead. A late Gilchrist goal was small consolation for the large and expectant away following.
Off the field United started to make preparations for the annual push for votes from the Football League clubs for election into the League at the end of season meeting in May. Roy Peskett a PR and marketing consultant was appointed. He had promised to half his fee if the campaign was unsuccessful.
1989/90 On Saturday 27th January United travelled to Millwall for the FA Cup 4th round tie. John Beck, managing in the FA Cup for the first time, moved full-back Colin Bailie into midfield and introduced Andy Fensome at right-back. Bailie, who had been the target of the Corona Kop boo-boys, was to go on to make himself a firm favourite of all the fans. Just before half time Tony Cascarino turned sharply to score for the top division hosts. John Taylor equalised soon after the break and the tie went to a replay on the following Tuesday evening at the Abbey. Over nine thousand attended the replay at a windswept Abbey Stadium and a match that was full of midfield action was settled by an own goal when Millwall’s David Thompson, later to play for the U’s, turned a wind assisted back pass into his own goal.
After only three games since taking over from Chris Turner, John Beck had managed to transform the team and managed to a style of play that suited the player’s abilities. A back four of Andy Fensome, Liam Daish, Phil Chapple and Alan Kimble in front of goalkeeping legend John Vaughan were performing as a unit. Colin Bailie and Chris Leadbitter making up the centre of midfield with Lee Philpott and Michael Cheetham providing the crosses for John Taylor and Dion Dublin who by now had Steve Claridge waiting in the wings to take their place.
On Friday 2nd February the U’s travelled to Halifax for a forth division match. Both teams had featured in FA Cup replays that went into extra time in midweek. So it was not surprising that both sets of players tired quickly and the match ended goalless. John Beck stated that he was happy with the point. United were now in 13th place, 12 points behind the leaders Carlisle.
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