Unreliable History

Originally playing their football on Parker’s Piece, they had to find a new home when Parker made his piece off limits. Founded in 1919, Abbey United took their name from the Abbey district of Cambridge – a name they retained until they turned professional in 1949, when a national building society stopped sponsoring the club. By this time they had moved on to play in the Celery Trenches, where they established a huge following amongst vegetarians across the city. The club did toy with the idea of changing it’s nickname to “The Dreaming Spireites”, but this had already partly been taken by another club.

The club really came to prominence in 1970 when they were elected to the Football League and then had a rapid rise in fortune winning promotion to Division Three in 1976-77 as Champions, then finishing second in that division in 1979-80 to go up to the old Division Two. Despite a good run in the eighties in Division Two and in 1992 they lost a play-off and a chance to reach the top flight, over the years the club has slipped back down the ladder. In fact in 1983-84, the club lost 31 consecutive games and were, unsurprisingly, relegated. However, more recently, in 1991 they won the Third Division championship and last season they were runners-up in Division Three and won automatic promotion. Back in 1974, Cambridge United were involved in the first Sunday FA Cup tie against Oldham Athletic, which ended in a 2-2 draw. The club’s top crowd was strangely recorded against Chelsea in a friendly, just before the start of their League career.

During their days in Division Two, with John Beck at the helm in the 1980’s, the club earned a reputation for bizarre training methods and “dirty tricks” to make their opponents feel ill at ease. These included freezing cold showers for his own players, dirty changing rooms and deflated kick-about balls for the opposition and long grass in the corners of the pitch to slow the long balls into those areas, allowing the U’s forwards to reach them. Beck carried on his dirty tricks even after leaving to take charge of Preston North End – taking nine of the Cambridge United players with him !! He was not the only famous manager at the club, with Ron Atkinson taking the club from Fourth to Second Division and Ex-England and then having Derby County centre-half Roy McFarland sitting in the hot seat.

There were seasons in Divisions Three and then Two, before two relegations in four years sent Cambridge out of the League.  In the Conference, a number of managers failed to restore them to the Football League until they took a punt on some Money (Richard) and their bet paid dividends with a promotion to League Two in 2014.  After just escaping the drop through the League trap-door again in 2019, Mark Bonner had the fortune to lead them out of the bottom division in 2021, as they finished second to gain promotion to League One.

A little known story dates from before The U’s entry into the League, a local animal sanctuary had an escapee and it was found grazing on the pitch at the Abbey Stadium. This lead to the moose connection with the club, as in the club shop you can buy a range of moose souvenirs to show your allegiance to the U’s. 

FAMOUS PLAYERS : – Dion Dublin, Don “The Don” Donn, Steve Spriggs, Tom Finney (no not that one), John Taylor, Charles Clare-College.
FAMOUS FANS : – Gary Newbon (Football commentator and broadcaster – Talk Radio), Tom Findlay (Musician – Groove Armada), Max Rushden (TV and radio presenter)


Club Records

Formed 1912

Turned Professional 1949

Became a Limited Company 1948

Previous names Abbey United = 1919-1951

Previous grounds

Nickname “THE U’s”


Club Colours
[Images courtesy of the wonderful Colours of Football website]



Record Football League Win 7-0  v  Morecambe  (League Two)  (Home)    19.04.2016

Record Football League Defeat 0-7  v  Luton Town  (League Two)  (Away)     18.11.2017

Record Cup Win 5-1  v  Bristol City  (FA Cup Fifth Round Second replay)   (Home)  27.02.1990
4-0  v  Sheffield Wednesday  (FA Cup Fifth Round)     16.02.1991
4-0  v  Coventry City  (FA Cup Second Round)     04.12.2016

Record Fee Paid £190,000 to Luton Town for Steve CLARIDGE (November 1992)

Record Fee Received £1.5 million from Leicester City for Trevor BENJAMIN (July 2000)

Record Appearances ??  –  ??  (19??-19??)

Record League Appearances 416  –  Steve SPRIGGS  (1975-1987)

Record League goal-scorer 84  –  John TAYLOR  (1988-1992 and 1997-2004)

Record all-time goal-scorer ??  –  ??  (19??-19??)

Record goal-scorer in a League season 24  –  David CROWN    (Division 4)   1985-1986   (46 games)

Record goal-scorer in a season 32  –  Paul MULLIN    (League Two)   1985-1986   (46 games)

Most goals scored in a League match 5  –  Steve BUTLER  v  Exeter City  (Division 2)     04.04.1994

Record Home Attendance 14,000 v  Chelsea    ??     .05.1970

Record total of goals in a League season 87  –  Division 4  (1976-1977)   (46 games)

Record League points total 2 points for a win  :  65  –    Division 4  (1976-1977)  (46 games)
3 points for a win  :  86  –    Division 3  (1990-1991)  (46 games)

Most Capped Player while at club 7  –  Tom FINNEY  (Northern Ireland)

Youngest Player Ben WORMAN  –  16 years and ?? days  v  Peterborough United   (Football League Trophy)   (Home)   07.11.2017

Oldest Player John TAYLOR  –  39 years and ?? days  v  ??   (Division ??)  2003-2004


Stadium details 

Address :   Abbey Stadium, Newmarket Road, Cambridge CB5 8LN

Telephone :   01223 566500
Ticket Office :  01223 566500  (option 1)

Capacity :    8,127
Away Allocation :   Approximately 1,600 (although more if required)
Pitch size :  101m x 68m  (110 yards  x 74 yards)
Official website :    www.cambridge-united.co.uk/


There are good directions to the Abbey Stadium on the Cambridge United website and more information on the Away Days website.


Division Three Champions  (Third Tier) 1990-1991

Division Three Runners-up  (Third Tier) 1977-1978

Division Four Champions  (Fourth Tier) 1976-1977

Division Three Runners-up  (Fourth Tier) 1998-1999

League Two Runners-up  (Fourth Tier) 2020-2021

Conference Runners-up  (Fifth Tier) 2007-2008, 2008-2009

Football League Trophy Finalists 2001-2002



Bill WHITTAKER 1949 – 1955

Gerald WILLIAMS 1955

Bert JOHNSON 1955 – 1959

Bill CRAIG 1959 – 1960

Alan MOORE 1960 – 1963

Roy KIRK 1964 – 1966 

Bill LEIVERS 1967 – 1974

Ron ATKINSON 1974 – 1978

John DOCHERTY 1978 – 1983

John COZENS (Caretaker) 1983 – 1984

John RYAN 1984 – 1985


Chris TURNER 1986 – 1990

John BECK 1990 – 1992

Gary JOHNSON (Caretaker) 1992

Ian ATKINS 1992 – 1993

Gary JOHNSON 1993 – 1995

Tommy TAYLOR 1995 – 1996

Roy McFARLAND 1996 – 2001

John BECK 2001

John TAYLOR 2001 – 2004

Dale BROOKS (Caretaker) 2004

Claude Le ROY 2004

Herve RENARD 2004

Ricky DUNCAN (Caretaker) 2004

Steve THOMPSON 2004 – 2005

Rob NEWMAN 2005 – 2006

Lee POWER (Caretaker) 2006

Jimmy QUINN 2006 – 2008

Gary BRABIN 2008 – 2009

Paul CARDEN (Caretaker) 2009

Martin LING 2009 – 2011

Jez GEORGE 2011 – 2012

Richard MONEY 2012 – 2015

Joe DUNNE (Caretaker) 2015

Shaun DERRY 2015 – 2018

Colin CALDERWOOD 2018 – 2020

Mark BONNER 2020 – 


League Record

The Football League structure has historically been as follows …

1888-1892 1892-1920 1920-1921 1921-1958 1958-1992 1992-2004 2004 to date
First tier Football League Division One Division One Division One Division One Premiership Premier League
Second tier Division Two Division Two Division Two Division Two Division One Championship
Third tier Division Three Division Three
(North) and (South)
Division Three Division Two  League One
Fourth tier Division Four Division Three League Two

Elected to Division Four  (Fourth Tier) 1970

Division Four  (Fourth Tier) 1970-1973

Division Three  (Third Tier) 1973-1974

Division Four  (Fourth Tier) 1974-1977

Division Three  (Third Tier) 1977-1978

Division Two  (Second Tier) 1978-1984

Division Three  (Third Tier) 1984-1985

Division Four  (Fourth Tier) 1985-1990

Division Three  (Third Tier) 1990-1991

Division Two  (Second Tier) 1991-1992

Division One  (Second Tier) 1992-1993

Division Two  (Third Tier) 1993-1995

Division Three  (Fourth Tier) 1995-1999

Division Two  (Third Tier) 1999-2002

Division Three  (Fourth Tier) 2002-2004

League Two  (Fourth Tier) 2004-2005

Conference  (Fifth Tier) 2005-2014

League Two  (Fourth Tier) 2014-2021

League One  (Third Tier) 2021-