Cambridge United are one of the most recent additions to the Football League, yet looking back to the earliest days of football, Cambridge has had a great influence in formulating the rules of the game. The generally acknowledged first ever set of laws for the game was devised by the famous university around 1848.
Abbey United, who changed their name to Cambridge United after turning professional in 1949, were formed in 1913 after a meeting between several enthusiasts under a street lamp in Stanley Street. They started life in a very minor fashion, playing at Midsummer Common and with the advent of the First World War they ceased activities until 1919, when they were in fact reformed. Their new venue was Stourbridge Common. As the club’s status rose a more appropriate home was required. And what better choice could have been made than a move to Station Farm, Barnwell, in 1923, with a pitch so poor and so full of vegetable plots that it led the ground being known as The Celery Trenches!!
As a result the club made a move to Parker’s Piece in the centre of the town in 1930. It may well have been an idyllic setting but yet again Abbey United had managed to find a location totally unsuitable for football, so a more suitable and permanent ground was required. Eventually this was found during the summer of 1931, just off Newmarket Road. It took Abbey United one year to build what was to become the Abbey Stadium. In the meantime, during the preparations, the club returned to graze The Celery Trenches once more…
Cambridge United were elected to the league in 1970 at the expense of Bradford Park Avenue. They have always played in amber and black, but for the late Sixties when they appeared in a vibrant all-yellow strip. They sported every possible combination, stripes from the very beginning, quartered shirts, amber shirts with black collars or a large black ‘V’, and all-white shirts with an amber and black trim. Their nickname “U’s” is taken from United, their former nickname being “The Wasps”, taken after their black and amber kit.
The first badge, introduced in 1951, shows a shield divided in four parts. The centre top part shows a derivation of the city’s coat of arms. In past days Cambridge prospered from river-borne traffic from the coast; hence the ships and the supporting seahorses – very unusual icons for an inland place. The two roses and the fleurs-de-lis are royal and national emblems. These symbols are also positioned either side of the coat of arms. The bottom part shows a modification of the original Cambridge Castle, which stood on a hill just above the bridge. Cambridge owes its name and early development to this bridge at the “farthest navigable parte” of the Granta or Cante, now Cam. The castle’s entrance has been replaced by a goalmouth and we also see a ball. Could this be a football?. The motto is “United in Endeavour’
The 1973/4 season saw the introduction of a new design, an impressionist version of a crenel? of one of Cambridge Castle’s towers, together with a football and the motto “United in Endeavour”. All of these are placed on the cover of what appears to be a pageless studybook. We may pause to ask ourselves what is the point of a pageless studybook in a University city?
However, we move on, to the present crest, first used in 1986. We have the same outline. And the same crenel. But now, thankfully for academia, the useless book has been thrown away, and some letters appear. The letters “CU”. And not a Glaswegian in sight.