Cambridge United F.C.

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Cambridge United
Full nameCambridge United Football Club
Nickname(s)United, The U's
Founded1912 (as Abbey United)
GroundAbbey Stadium
Ground Capacity10,847 (4,948 seated)
ChairmanDave Doggett
ManagerRichard Money
LeagueConference Premier
2012–13Conference Premier, 14th
Home colours
Away colours
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Cambridge United
Full nameCambridge United Football Club
Nickname(s)United, The U's
Founded1912 (as Abbey United)
GroundAbbey Stadium
Ground Capacity10,847 (4,948 seated)
ChairmanDave Doggett
ManagerRichard Money
LeagueConference Premier
2012–13Conference Premier, 14th
Home colours
Away colours

Cambridge United Football Club is a professional football club from Cambridge, England. They compete in the Conference Premier, the fifth tier of the English league system, where they have played since the 2005–06 season, following their relegation from the Football League after 35 years.

Cambridge United have had two spells in the league's second tier, reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup twice and Football League Cup once. United's highest ever finishing place in the Football League is fifth in the Second Division during the 1991–92 season, narrowly missing out on being promoted to the first tier and becoming founding members of the Premier League. The club is based at the Abbey Stadium on Newmarket Road, approximately 3 kilometres east of Cambridge city centre. The stadium currently has a capacity of 10,847 made up of terracing and seated areas.[1]

Although the club has traditionally worn amber and black at home, it has experimented with a number of designs of shirts including plain amber with black trim, amber and black squares, stripes and, amber with a black sash.[2] The club has close links with Cambridge Regional College, a team formed in 2006 as a de facto reserve team.


Formation and early years[edit]

The club was founded in 1912 as Abbey United, named after the Abbey district of Cambridge. A club called Cambridge United existed in Cambridge from 1909, but it was not linked to the club that exists today.[3] The club played in local amateur leagues for many of its early years, moving from ground to ground around Cambridge (see Stadium below) before settling at the Abbey Stadium. In 1949 the club turned professional, and changed its name to Cambridge United in 1951.[3] They played in the Eastern Counties League until finishing as runners-up in 1957–58, which saw them promoted to the Southern League.[4] Three years later, Cambridge United reached the Premier Division of the Southern League.[4]

League era[edit]

Final table positions since election

After election to the Football League in 1970, to replace Bradford (Park Avenue), the club enjoyed mixed success. Although it reached 8th place in the Second Division in 1980, the club was relegated in 1984 (setting a league record for most games without a win, 31,[5] which was surpassed by Derby County in 2008[6]) and 1985 (equalling the league record for most losses in a season, 33).[7] These successive relegations placed Cambridge back in the Fourth Division, the lowest professional league in English football at the time.[4]

The early 1990s was the U's most successful period. Managed by John Beck the club won the first ever play-off final at Wembley Stadium.[3][8] Dion Dublin scored the only goal in a game against Chesterfield.[9][8] Under Beck United gained promotion from the Fourth Division before reaching two successive FA Cup quarter finals in 1990 and 1991[10] and winning the Third Division in 1991.[3] United reached the play-offs in 1992, after finishing 5th in Division Two, but failed in their bid to become founder members of the Premier League.[3] This was the club's highest final league placing to date.[11] The following season the club sacked John Beck and were relegated from the new First Division.[3] Further relegation followed two seasons later.[4] United returned to Division Two but were relegated in 2002 despite a successful run in the LDV Vans Trophy which saw them reach the final which they lost 1–4 to Blackpool at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.[12]

In 2005, after 35 years in the Football League, Cambridge United were relegated into the Football Conference. This brought with it financial difficulties and the club filed for administration on 29 April.[13] On 22 July 2005 the club came out of administration with a deal being struck with HM Revenue and Customs at the eleventh hour after the intervention of then sports minister Richard Caborn.[14] Cambridge had sold their Abbey Stadium home earlier in the season for £1.9 million in order to keep the club afloat.[15]

Recent history[edit]

The Cambridge supporters at Wembley Stadium

On the eve of the 2006–07 season, it was announced that former Norwich City striker Lee Power would be the club's new chairman taking over from Brian Attmore's caretaking reign.[16] Johnny Hon was also to rejoin the board as vice-chairman after John Howard's resignation on conflict of interests grounds (owing to his ownership of Bideawhile 445 Ltd, United's landlords).[17] Jimmy Quinn was appointed manager soon after Power took charge and, after a difficult settling-in period which included a humiliating 5–0 loss to local rivals Histon,[18] he guided Cambridge United away from another possible relegation by achieving five wins from their last seven games of the season.[3]

After signing several respected and experienced players at the non-league level in the following close season Quinn led Cambridge to their then longest ever unbeaten start to a season (2007–08), which stretched to twelve games.[19] Off the field, United reported several major sponsorship deals which seemed to point towards increased financial security.[20][21] Halfway through the season the chairman, Lee Power, resigned. He was replaced by Philip Law.[22] United finished the season in 2nd place, qualifying for the play-offs. They beat Burton Albion in the semi-final, 4–3 on aggregate,[23] but lost 1–0 to Exeter City in the final, played at Wembley Stadium.[24]

Following the play-off defeat many players left the club, culminating in the departure of manager Jimmy Quinn.[25] Quinn was succeeded by former Southport manager Gary Brabin, who appointed Paul Carden as player-assistant manager.[26] United finished the 2008–09 season again 2nd in the league, and also again reached the play-off final, overturning a 3–1 deficit to beat Stevenage Borough 4–3 on aggregate in the semi-final;[27] however, they were beaten again at Wembley Stadium, 2–0 by Torquay United.[28] Brabin was named as the Conference's Manager of the Season,[29] but was sacked in the close-season after reportedly falling out with the chairman.[30] He was replaced by Martin Ling, who resigned just eight days into the job, before the start of the 2009–10 season[31] and was followed days later by chairman George Rolls.[32] The new board re-appointed Ling as manager the following week.[33]

Cambridge finished Ling's first season in 10th place – not enough for a playoff place.[34] The following season, on 6 January 2011, with Cambridge in a similar position to where they finished the previous season, the club's owners put the club up for sale citing the need for new funds to take the club forward.[35] Despite interest being expressed from a number of parties, no new owner has yet been found.[36] Later the same month, the club's landlords Grosvenor Group revealed the plans for a new community stadium, including potential new locations both within the city and outside it.[37] At the start of 2011 Martin Ling was removed from his position as manager[38] and replaced on a temporary basis by CRC manager Jez George.[39] The club finished the season in ninth place, and George's role was made permanent.[40] Eleven games into the following season Jez George became Director of Football, and Richard Money was announced as the new head coach of the club.[41] The club spent much of the season in mid-table, finishing in 14th position with 59 points. However Richard Money and Jez George, as Director of Football, were using this time to review a wide group of Conference-level players to identify those willing to join a re-vamped Cambridge United squad, within strict wage limits, that would be capable of mounting a serious challenge in 2013/14 season. As a result, eight senior players (Cunnington, Sam-Yorke, Tait, Champion, Bonner, Austin, Donaldson and Miller) were added to the squad in May and June 2013, with a similar number of existing squad members released. Two further senior hires (Taylor and Arnold) were made over the rest of the close season. Cambridge have started the 2013/14 season with a record breaking 14 unbeaten games, and currently sit in first place in the Skrill Premier mid-season.

Colours and badge[edit]

The club's first shirt (between 1924–25)[2]

Cambridge United have traditionally worn amber and black home kits in a variety of designs, including plain amber with black trim (e.g. 1979–91), amber and black quarters (1996–98 and halves (e.g. 1924–25), and a variety of stripes (e.g. 1926–36.[2] Only between 1957–60 and 1970–72 have shirts not been predominantly amber, when the club opted for white with a small amber and black detail on the shirt's sleeves. Away from home, kits have often been white with some amber and/or black detail, although recently shirts have been blue at the request of the away shirts sponsors, Kershaw.[42]

A sponsor first appeared on a Cambridge United shirt for the 1985–86 season when the shirt was changed mid-season from plain amber to amber and black stripes.[2] Spraymate were the club's first shirt sponsor, and have since been followed by an array of local and national companies: Lynfox, Howlett, Fujitsu, Beaumont Stainless Steels, Premier Travel, C and R Windows, Quicksilver (couriers), Capital Sports, The Global Group, Haart, Global Self Drive, and in 2009–10 Greene King IPA.[2]

The teams kits have been manufactured by a number of companies, with Admiral providing the first strip on which a maker's logo appeared. The club have subsequently worn kits created by, among others, Nike, Patrick, Sporta and, Vandanel, with the latter providing the strip for the 2007–08 season.[2] and subsequently an amber shirt featuring a dramatic black sash design that polarised the opinions of fans. In the summer of 2010 the Club parted company with Vandanel, citing concerns regards the company's ability to continue to service their needs, signing a deal with Italian company Erreà.[43]

The club's current crest, a large football over which the letters 'CU' are emblazoned, with three turrets on top, has been worn on its shirts since the 1986–87 season season, with a brief change to a more 'elaborate' design between 1996 and 1998.[2] Previously, shirts had simply been embroidered with the club's acronym 'CUFC' or a 'Book & Ball' badge used during the late 70's.[2] The club used a special badge to commemorate their centenary in the 2012–13 season.[44]


The Abbey Stadium’s Main Stand

Cambridge United currently play their home matches at the Abbey Stadium, which has been their home since 1932. Since 2009 the ground has also been known as The R. Costings Abbey Stadium through a sponsorship deal.[45] The stadium currently has a capacity of 9,617, of which 4,376 are seated.[1]

Before opening the Abbey with a victory over Cambridge University Press in a friendly on 31 August 1932, United had played matches at a number of venues around the city.[46] When playing under the Abbey United name, games were played on Midsummer Common until the outbreak of World War I. When the war ended, the club moved to Stourbridge Common and, after promotion to the Cambridgeshire League Division One in 1923, moved once again to land just off Newmarket Road in Cambridge. This ground, affectionately known as the 'Celery Trenches' due to the poor state of the pitch, was christened with a 1–0 league victory over Histon Institute and became United's home for a decade. While based at the Trenches, the club established its offices at the 'Dog & Pheasant' pub on Newmarket Road, which it used as an away dressing room on matchdays, as well as a store for equipment including the pitch's goalposts.[46] However, the Cambridgeshire FA were unhappy with the state of the pitch at this new home, and the club moved to Parker's Piece at the start of the 1930–31 season. Despite the special significance of Parker's Piece in the history of football, it being the first place where the Cambridge Rules were played out, the lack of spectator capacity and disruption caused during games meant this move was not a successful one.[47]

Abbey Stadium viewed from the South Stand

In January 2006, John Howard announced plans to move out of the Abbey Stadium to a new purpose built stadium in Milton. This was supported by Cambridgeshire Horizons.[48] These were criticised by fans as risking the club's identity by moving out of the city and, despite Howard describing them as crucial to the club's future, little else was heard of them publicly. Subsequently a new community stadium, that would also include conference facilities, was ruled out by a Planning Inspector's report which described it as unsuitable development in the green belt and in October 2009, Cambridge United announced its intentions to redevelop the Abbey Stadium with chairman.[49]

The Stadium was sold by Bideawhile to Grosvenor Estates in June 2010.[50] Soon after, the new landlords, in combination with the club and supporters group Cambridge Fans United, announced that they had signed a Memorandum of Understanding to positively work together to achieve the relocation of the club to a new stadium.[51] In January 2011, plans for a new community stadium were unveiled at an open meeting, including potential new locations both within the city and outside it.[37]

In September 2011, Grosvenor Estates announced that they, in partnership with property firm Wrenbridge had managed to cut down the potential sites to just two, both on greenbelt land. This was later cut to one, Trumpington Meadows, to the South West of the city. They revealed they plan for the new community stadium to be a 8,000 seated and terraced stadium to be built within a new Cambridge Sporting Village incorporating housing and retail development with the stadium as the focal point.[52]


Cambridge United supporters at the Abbey Stadium

Cambridge United have a number of supporters' groups and associations, some of which are independently run and some are run by the club itself.[53] These include: an Away Travel Club, who provide travel to every away game as well as hosting fundraising events and sponsoring senior players;[54] youth group Junior U's;[55] Cambridge United Supporters Association, a group giving a voice to the fans in communications with the club and the media;[53] Vice Presidents Club, who offer match day hospitality packages; and regional associations in St Ives, East Cambridgeshire, Royston, St Neots, Bedfordshire and Saffron Walden.[53] Cambridge Fans United is an independent supporters group who are now a significant shareholder in the club with representation on the fans' behalf on the board of directors.[56] In addition to these supporters' groups, the club currently has one independent fanzine, United in Endeavour, which raises funds for Cambridge Fans United and is sold at home games.[57]

Since relegation to the Conference, attendances at the Abbey have been amongst the highest in the league. Cambridge United's first two seasons in this league saw them post the 4th highest average attendance figures in both years (2,607 in 2005–06 and 2,815 in 2006–07).[58][59]

Before election into the Football League, Cambridge City were regarded as the club's biggest rivals, although the rivalry has since waned significantly.[60] Peterborough United are considered to be their current main rivals, something that was recognised in a survey by the Football Fans Census as a reciprocated feeling, despite the fact the two clubs have experienced a number of seasons divisions apart.[61] Other lesser rivalries include those with Histon,[62] Northampton Town,[61] and Luton Town.[63]


As of 18 December 2013.[64]

Current squad[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

1WalesGKChris Maxwell (on loan from Fleetwood Town)
2EnglandDFKevin Roberts
3EnglandDFGreg Taylor
4EnglandDFJosh Coulson
5ScotlandDFTom Bonner
6EnglandDFIan Miller
7EnglandMFRyan Donaldson
8EnglandMFTom Champion
9EnglandFWAdam Cunnington
10EnglandFWTom Elliott
11EnglandMFHarrison Dunk
14EnglandDFRichard Tait
16AustraliaMFMitch Austin
17EnglandFWLiam Hughes
18EnglandMFLuke Berry
19EnglandFWDelano Sam-Yorke
22Republic of IrelandMFMichael Spillane
23EnglandMFKarl Ledsham (on loan from Southport)
24EnglandMFNathan Arnold
25EnglandDFAaron Pierre (on loan from Brentford)
28EnglandDFMitch Hancock
29EnglandMFJosh Gillies (on loan from Carlisle United)
32WalesGKJason Brown

Out on loan[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

12EnglandDFRory McAuley (on loan at Chelmsford City)
13EnglandGKWill Norris (on loan at Royston Town)
15EnglandFWAndy Pugh (on loan at Ebbsfleet United)
20EnglandMFLuke Allen (on loan at Hemel Hempstead Town)
26EnglandFWLiam Hurst (on loan at Corby Town)
27EnglandMFBobby-Joe Taylor (on loan at St Neots Town)
EnglandDFBlaine Hudson (on loan at Welling United)
EnglandFWSam Smith (on loan at Hereford United)
EnglandDFScott Garner (on loan at Boston United)

Technical staff[edit]

As of 18 December 2013 (2013-12-18).[65]

Head CoachRichard Money
Assistant CoachAlan Neilson
Youth Team CoachMark Bonner
PhysioGreg Reid
Head of Sport ScienceMatt Walker
Chief ScoutBen Strang

Reserves and Centre of Excellence[edit]

Before relegation from the Football League in 2005, Cambridge United entered a reserve team in the Football Combination. However, this ceased following financial difficulties which meant the club could not guarantee being able to put out a team for every game. In 2006 United formed Cambridge Regional College as a de facto reserve team and entered them in the Eastern Counties League Premier Division.[66] FA rules prohibit reserve teams playing at certain levels of the football pyramid, and so the CRC name was adopted in recognition of the College's financial support, and because the team is made up almost entirely of the college's students.[66]

Cambridge United's Centre of Excellence is widely regarded throughout professional football circles as one of the best in England.[67] Many players have come through the youth team to establish themselves as first team players at Cambridge (for example Dan Gleeson,[68] Daniel Chillingworth,[69] Robbie Willmott[70] and Josh Coulson[71]) and go on to play at a higher level (recent examples include John Ruddy,[72] Michael Morrison[73] and Josh Simpson[74]). Wales international Jack Collison was in the youth squads for several years before joining West Ham United's youth academy after the centre closed down following relegation to the Conference Premier.[75]

The youth team won their division of the Football League Youth Alliance in both 2003–04 and 2004–05,[76] showing the strength of the club's Centre of Excellence. The club's success in the FA Youth Cup in recent years has also far surpassed its expectation given the level of the parent club – in 2006–07 the team was the highest placed non-league team reaching the Fourth Round after seven games (including qualifying games).[77]

Notable former players[edit]

Notable players include Wilf Mannion, the only former Cambridge player to be inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame,[78] former Charlton Athletic manager Les Reed and Lindsey Smith, voted Cambridge United's all-time cult hero in a poll for BBC Sport's Football Focus in August 2004.[79] David Moyes, former Everton manager, and current Manchester United manager, played 79 games for the club in 1983–85.

Former managers[edit]

Since joining the Football League in 1970, Cambridge United has had eighteen full-time managers as well as many caretakers and player-managers.

Bill Leivers[80]1967–74
Ron Atkinson[81]1974–78
John Docherty[82]1978–83
John Ryan[83]1984–85
Ken Shellito[84]1985
Chris Turner[85]1986–90
John Beck[86]1990–92
Gary Johnson (caretaker)[87]1992
Ian Atkins[88]1992–93
Gary Johnson[87]1993–95
Tommy Taylor[89]1995–96
Roy McFarland[90]1996–2001
John Beck[91]2001
John Taylor[92]2001–04
Dale Brooks (caretaker)[93]2004
Claude Le Roy[94]2004
Herve Renard[95]2004
Ricky Duncan (caretaker)[96]2004
Steve Thompson[97]2004–05
Rob Newman[98]2005–06
Lee Power (caretaker)[99]2006
Jimmy Quinn[100][101]2006–08
Gary Brabin[102]2008–09
Paul Carden (caretaker)[103]2009
Martin Ling[104]2009–11
Jez George [105]2011–12
Richard Money2012–

Honours and achievements[edit]






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External links[edit]