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Patrick O'Flynn's Blog

Monday 14th of January 2015

Patrick O'FlynnBy Patrick O'Flynn
UKIP prospective parliamentary candidate for Cambridge


We've got Man Utd in the Cup!

Cambridge United's thrilling FA Cup run - and home tie against Manchester United - has reignited in me many fond memories of previous glories down at the Abbey Stadium.

I started going to see the Us regularly as a 13-year-old, though my first game was the first ever Sunday match in England - against Oldham Athletic I think (from distant memory).

My dad was more of a Rugby Union man, so regular attendance down at the Abbey had to wait till I had reached secondary school years. I even remember the price of admission - 75p for children, £1.50 for adults - as I took my position at the front of the Habbin Stand with mates from Parkside school.

In those days Alan Biley, Steve Spriggs, Malcolm Webster, "Wolfie" Smith and Steve Fallon were the stars of the show. United were punching above their weight in the old Second Division and regularly hosted the likes of Chelsea, West Ham, Newcastle and Sunderland.

The first FA Cup tie that lives in my memory was a 1-0 defeat to Norwich at Carrow Road. Greg Downes scored late on for Norwich against the run of play, as I recall. I was one of a record Us away following of 3,500 that day.

I was also one of about 14,000 crammed into the Abbey for a home tie against Aston Villa around that time. I think we drew 1-1 then lost the replay at Villa Park.

Of course it was the John Beck era team that really made a speciality of FA cup giant-killing, reaching the quarter finals two years in a row.

In our first game with Bristol City in a tie that went to two replays, the "football special" train was late (thanks for that, British Rail!) but at least we got there in time for the United goal.

Our 4-0 thrashing of Sheffield Wednesday at home on a pitch with more sand than grass will also live long in the memory. A low Chris Ledbitter drive to beat Wolves away was another highlight and then of course there was Arsenal away, where an improbable 15,000 United "fans" turned out - some of whom barely knew the names of the players, but all of whom provided impressive vocal backing to the team.

These days work and family commitments mean I get to see the Us less often, though I did get down to the Abbey for the first match back in the Football League at the start of the season. I haven't secured a ticket to the Manchester United game (did I mention seeing us lose at Old Trafford in the League Cup in the early 90s by the way - one of Ryan Giggs' early appearances for the Red Devils?) and wouldn't want to jump the queue ahead of a more regular attender in any case.

But I shall be watching on television next Friday night and hoping for a great United cup upset just like in days of old. Come on You Us!

[ed]
Cambridge drew nil-nil and have a replay!



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