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Cambridge United - The rise from the forgotten

Oct 14, 2009

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" Today we regret to announce the imminent sacking of Richard Money, due to a bad run of results. We, as an ambitious club, felt that Richard's time had run out. We are pleased though to announce the appointment of the fairly well known Junior Conway, and would like to wish him all the best and assure him that he has mine, and the board's full backing " ~ Paul Barry (Chairman)

So with a little help, i have decided to take over my home club of Cambridge United, and pull them from the the Blue Sq to the Premier League as soon as i can. In FM 2012 i managed to this in consecutive seasons, but by winning only one league, the Championship, on the way. This time as well as getting promoted in consecutive seasons, i would also like to win a few more titles on my journey to the Premier League and Champion's League. This is my 2nd story so i have a little experience now, i would say. I hope i can get a few more of you to stay tuned to this one, and also entice more to have a go with Cambridge United also...... Updates will be done monthly, and will post as much as i can on my days off work.
Right let's get this show on the road, below will be a history on the club... My next post will be done after pre-season. Hope you enjoy!!!

Cambridge United Football Club is a professional football club from Cambridge, England. They compete in the Conference National, the fifth tier of the English league system, where they have played since 2005 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, 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.[SUP][1][/SUP] 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.[SUP][2][/SUP] The club has close links with Cambridge Regional College, a team formed in 2006 as a de facto reserve team.

Formation and early years

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.[SUP][3][/SUP] 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.[SUP][3][/SUP] They played in the Eastern Counties League until finishing as runners-up in 1957–58, which saw them promoted to the Southern League.[SUP][4][/SUP] Three years later, Cambridge United reached the Premier Division of the Southern League.[SUP][4]
League era

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,[SUP][5][/SUP] which was surpassed by Derby County in 2008[SUP][6][/SUP]) and 1985 (equalling the league record for most losses in a season, 33.[SUP][7][/SUP] These successive relegations placed Cambridge back in the Fourth Division, the lowest professional league in English football at the time.[SUP][4][/SUP]

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.[SUP][3][/SUP][SUP][8][/SUP] Dion Dublin scored the only goal in a game against Chesterfield.[SUP][9][/SUP][SUP][8][/SUP] Under Beck United gained promotion from the Fourth Division before reaching two successive FA Cup quarter finals in 1990 and 1991 and winning the Third Division in 1991.[SUP][3][/SUP] 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.[SUP][3][/SUP] This was the club's highest final league placing to date.[SUP][10][/SUP] The following season the club sacked John Beck and were relegated from the new First Division.[SUP][3][/SUP] Further relegation followed two seasons later.[SUP][4][/SUP] 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.[SUP][11][/SUP] 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.[SUP][12][/SUP] 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.[SUP][13][/SUP] Cambridge had sold their Abbey Stadium home earlier in the season for £1.9 million in order to keep the club afloat.[SUP][14]

[/SUP]Recent history

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.[SUP][15][/SUP] 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).[SUP][16][/SUP] 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,[SUP][17][/SUP] he guided Cambridge United away from another possible relegation by achieving five wins from their last seven games of the season.[SUP][3][/SUP]

After signing several respected and experienced players at the non-league level in the following close season Quinn led Cambridge to their longest ever unbeaten start to a season (2007–08), which stretched to twelve games.[SUP][18][/SUP] Off the field, United reported several major sponsorship deals which seemed to point towards increased financial security.[SUP][19][/SUP][SUP][20][/SUP] Halfway through the season the chairman, Lee Power, resigned. He was replaced by Philip Law.[SUP][21][/SUP] United finished the season in 2nd place, qualifying for the play-offs. They beat Burton Albion in the semi-final, 4–3 on aggregate,[SUP][22][/SUP] but lost 1–0 to Exeter City in the final, played at Wembley Stadium.[SUP][23][/SUP]
Following the play-off defeat many players left the club, culminating in the departure of manager Jimmy Quinn.[SUP][24][/SUP] Quinn was succeeded by former Southport manager Gary Brabin, who appointed Paul Carden as player-assistant manager.[SUP][25][/SUP] 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;[SUP][26][/SUP] however, they were beaten again at Wembley Stadium, 2–0 by Torquay United.[SUP][27][/SUP] Brabin was named as the Conference's Manager of the Season,[SUP][28][/SUP] but was sacked in the close-season after reportedly falling out with the chairman.[SUP][29][/SUP] He was replaced by Martin Ling, who resigned just eight days into the job, before the start of the 2009–10 season[SUP][30][/SUP] and was followed days later by chairman George Rolls.[SUP][31][/SUP] The new board re-appointed Ling as manager the following week.[SUP][32][/SUP]
Cambridge finished Ling's first season in 10th place – not enough for a playoff place.[SUP][33][/SUP] 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.[SUP][34][/SUP] Despite interest being expressed from a number of parties, no new owner has yet been found.[SUP][35][/SUP] 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.[SUP][36][/SUP] The start of 2011 was compounded as a period of change at the club with the departure after 87 games in charge of Martin Ling.[SUP][37][/SUP] The first team was placed under the caretaker management of CRC manager Jez George,[SUP][38][/SUP] whose position was made permanent at the end of the season.[SUP][39][/SUP] Cambridge United would finish the 2011–12 season in 9th place.
Following an initially strong start in the 2012–13 Conference National campaign, winning two of their first three league matches, Cambridge failed to win any of their next eight games. This poor run of form led then manager Jez George to return to his previous role as Director of Football on 4 October 2012. At the same time, Richard Money was announced as the new head coach of the club.[SUP][40][/SUP]

Colours and badge

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.[SUP][2][/SUP] 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.[SUP][41][/SUP]
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.[SUP][2][/SUP] 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.[SUP][2][/SUP]
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.[SUP][2][/SUP] 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.[SUP][42][/SUP]
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.[SUP][2][/SUP] Previously, shirts had simply been embroidered with the club's acronym 'CUFC' or a 'Book & Ball' badge used during the late 70's.[SUP][2][/SUP] The club will use a special badge to commemorate their centenary in the 2012–13 season.[SUP][43][/SUP]


Main article: Abbey Stadium

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.[SUP][44][/SUP] The stadium currently has a capacity of 9,617, of which 4,376 are seated.[SUP][1][/SUP]
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.[SUP][45][/SUP] 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.[SUP][45][/SUP] 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.[SUP][46][/SUP]

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.[SUP][47][/SUP] 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.[SUP][48][/SUP]
The Stadium was sold by Bideawhile to Grosvenor Estates in June 2010.[SUP][49][/SUP] 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.[SUP][50][/SUP] 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.[SUP][36][/SUP]
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.[SUP][51]

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