Collectors Corner: James King

Starting a new series here on the UTAS website, we speak to collectors of Cambridge United shirts and ask them to highlight some of the favourites in their collections. Kicking things off, James King.

I have been actively collecting Cambridge United shirts since around the mid-nineties. Before then, I had a few from when I was younger and as I got older, would buy both the home and away shirts every season. When eBay was in its infancy, it was a veritable paradise for the collector and by the mid 2000’s I had amassed over 120 mostly match worn Cambridge shirts from 1975-2005 from here and other sources.

Disaster struck around 2010 when I was made redundant and for quite some time was out of work. It was inevitable that sacrifice’s would need to be made and selling my prized possession’s helped to keep the wolf from the door. In 2015, I decided to go at it again and to start from scratch (bar a couple that kept and would have gone hungry for) Whilst I will never get back to the collection I had, I am enjoying giving it a damn good go.

My First Cambridge Shirt

The first shirt I ever had (barring a well-worn 1983 Mileta away shirt which was given to me by a family friend as a hand me down)  was the 1990-91 white Scoreline away shirt. The shirts from this season are up there with my favourites and for many years I was annoyed with myself that as a stupid 15 year old I gave mine away to a holiday romance when in Crete during the summer of 1991. I never thought I would be able to replace it. Since then I have managed to get hold of replica and a player edition #3 shirt as worn by Alan Kimble. It’s extremely stained, probably from all that mud at Molineux! Here it is with 2 home match worn shirts from the same season

The First Shirt I Remember Watching The U’s Wear

I had been taken by my dad to a few games in the early/mid-eighties and just remember the tail end of the classic Umbro kit from the Docherty era. The Mileta Spraymate shirt is in my memory but the shirt worn from when I first started to attended regularly is the Umbro striped affair worn for the second half of the 1985-86 Season after the contract with Mileta had been terminated. A classic Umbro design which seems slightly dated for the time looking back but I do have happy memories of David Crown banging in a few wearing this one. I have only ever seen a couple of these in recent years, one I unfortunately sold and the other is the one I’m sharing here. I am sure there must be more out there somewhere.

My Rarest Shirt

After the success of the 1991-92 season, which those present will always say that they were privileged to have seen, the club embarked on a pre season tour to Sweden and wore these Airtex style V-neck shirts. I believe the club shop sold a handful of these un-numbered the following season so if you have hold of one, it’s a gem. Below is the #8 allocated to Richard Wilkins.

My Favourite Shirt

It will always be the Nike Lynfox shirts Cambridge wore from 1986-88. The league cup run when we beat Ipswich (That man Crown again) and gave a star studded Tottenham side a good test before losing 3-1 will always stay long in the memory. It seemed that when wearing this, we played every game under Floodlights which enchanted me as a 10-11 year old.  Mr Petit selling his lottery tickets, ‘Walk like an Egyptian’ by the Bangles played before and at half time every single match, Wolfie returning to the Abbey, an Alan Biley cameo, the bomb scare…I could go on.

My Most Valuable Shirt

My most valuable shirt would probably not be the one most of you would be expecting. As a child in the early 80’s, my dad would take me to the odd game (if Purbeck Rovers were playing away somewhere obscure and my mum would let me go) and over time, my attendance would become more frequent and my home town football club would become a lot more than just something to do on a Saturday afternoon. Many friendships over the years have been forged which stand to this day and the list of memories, especially those when we nearly reached the Premiership will last with me forever. I owe all of that to him. He passed away in 2017 and the shirt below was his and is the only one he ever bought. Money wise, it’s worth maybe £40. To me it’s priceless.

Coconuts posted this crowd photo from 1986 on Facebook a few years back and I was delighted to see myself as a 10 year old stood in the Habbin with him.

You can follow James and see more of his shirt collection on Twitter @jamesdking76 . If you have a shirt collection you’d like to share with us here please get in touch at or @abbeystandpod on Twitter.

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