Despite His White Boots

Football, football, football and, if the mood takes me, more football.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

How Low Can You Go

I haven't gone yet, this still counts :-). Having a flick through the League Paper and its chip-wrapper companion the Non-League Paper, I did see something that shocked me. I could date this properly with Google, but I'd rather do it from memory ; at some point in the early nineties, Cambridge United were very high up in what is now the Championship with a couple of months of the season to go. They had some good players : Dion Dublin and Steve Claridge off the top of my head, although I'm not sure whether they were in the same team. I saw them beat Sunderland 3-0 at home and Ipswich 2-1 away with my own eyes. In Claridge's book he relates how teams finally sussed out their long-ball game to the point where Guy Butters taunted him "Go on, go inside me. You're not allowed to are you ?", and then whacked him into the stand. Cambridge missed out on the play-offs and started a slow but steady slide down the leagues.

Two seasons ago they dropped out of the Football League. Now I read that not only are they bottom six in the Conference, but last week they played local neighbours Histon in the FA Trophy. When I was around Cambridge, Histon were a village team. A guy I knew used to play for them part-time, that kind of thing. We're not even talking St Albans or Enfield Town here. More like Baldock Town. If that. As Cambridge sank, they rose. And last week Histon beat Cambridge United 5-0 in the FA Trophy. I suppose Histon are to Cambridge as Vauxhall Motors are to QPR, although it must be 10 times worse with the local connection.

That's how far down you can go if you try hard enough. And maybe it's not over yet. Still, darkest just before the dawn and all that ...

Wikipedia update : Dublin and Claridge did play in the same team. Cambridge actually reached the playoffs but lost 5-0 to Leicester.


  • At 12:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Histon are backed by wealthy local businessmen, going to be a league team before Cambridge will be again. Each player there is on £££ and they are going to be the next Rushden, until the money runs out

    Incidentally, Cambridge City have sold their city centre ground for £6m (they owed £6m) and need to ground share next season...

    I was at the Cambridge 5-0 drubbing, Beck got them close but as you say they were found out after about 18 months..teams defended deep and plentifully and Cambridge couldn't play it through them on the floor, game over.

  • At 10:28 PM, Blogger 89TJ said…

    The money behind Histon is a little over-stated, but at the time they beat us 5-0 I believe they were top of the Conference South. They have a strong chance of being in the Conference next season, and were understandably bookmakers' favourites before kick-off.

    As for the old Beck team in the early 90s, that was one of the great missed opportunities. The U's were top at Christmas, but turned in almost relegation form after that. We still finished above Blackburn that season, who went up in the playoffs and... well, you know the rest.

    Beck should have freed the team to play more football. His direct tactics became more and more extreme and rigid during his time in charge, and he refused to acknowledge that he had a team good enough to complete the job of promotion that season by actually passing and dribbling the ball.

    Besides Dublin and Claridge, the team included others who went on to play in the Prem. Alan Kimble, Liam Daish, Phil Chapple, Lee Philpott, even keeper John Vaughan.

  • At 1:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Stop winning the lot at poker and give us more football updates!


  • At 2:39 PM, Blogger Andy_Ward said…

    I'm miles away ! You lot give me some football updates !

    How did Arsenal score 6 against Liverpool ? Is Mourinho going to leave Chelsea and slag them off ferociously in the press (please please please) ? Is anyone really going to pay £10 million for Ashley Young ? What's going on ???



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