by Connor O’Reilly
Anyone else sorely miss away days? The trains packed full of fans with booze getting passed around, walking to the stadium chatting to mates about the hope of witnessing a memorable day out, the pubs around the ground, walking into the away end, chanting for the whole game and going mental when you score a winner, and normally passing out on the train back. The long journeys such as Carlisle, Plymouth, Exeter are always fantastic days out, but there is just something special about a local away day, such as Orient, Colchester or Stevenage.
Stevenage especially deserves recognition, being our most local away day, and one of the ones we usually always sell out. We have had our memorable days there in the past, from our battles in the conference to our boxing day clash back in 2016 where we grabbed a late winner. But today, I’m going to reminisce on our clash back in April 2018, also known as “Sir Barry Corr Day”.
The date is April 14th 2018. The Commonwealth games in the Gold Coast are in full flow, Donald Trump is acting like a tit over in the US, and England hasn’t prepared for the party that would be the 2018 World Cup. Cambridge and Stevenage were both languishing in mid table towards the end of disappointing seasons for both sides. Stevenage had professional bodybuilder and part time football manager Dino Maamria leading them after sacking Darren Sarll in late March and had nothing left to play for, being too good for relegation but too bad for promotion. United on the other hand were in a relatively similar situation. The club were in a transition period, having seen Luke Berry, Will Norris, Mark Roberts, and (for the time being) Barry Corr leaving during the summer. The team under Shaun Derry had an inconsistent season, playing poor football and having such highlights such as losing 7-0 to Luton, bottling a 3-0 lead away to Notts County in the space of 15 minutes and embarrassing losses away to the likes of Yeovil, Port Vale and Forest Green Rovers, all who were fighting off relegation. Derry’s tenure in charge of United ended at the start of February after a 0-0 draw to Lincoln and a quite pissed off fanbase rejoiced at seeing Derry finally leave. In stepped Bobble Hat connoisseur Joe Dunne, who was promoted from assistant manager to interim manager whilst the club looked for a suitable replacement. And then something happened. United started playing with passion, pride, they started getting results and winning. Chesterfield away, Notts County and Grimsby at home, getting a point from eventual runners up Luton, out shithousing Wycombe at Adams Park with an extremely late equaliser, it was fun watching the U’s again, and even though we went to Stevenage with nothing to play for, we went optimistic of a result.
The early trains were packed to go on the short 30-minute journey to Hertfordshire, with The Old Post and Our Mutual Friend starting to fill with Amber and Black shirts. The talk around was about Dino’s comments pregame, citing that “he loved beating Cambridge when he played for Stevenage, and how they always beat Cambridge”. The fans entered the Lamex (ironically overlooked by a circus behind the old terrace) with the Stevenage fans lighting pyro in anticipation for the local derby. The first half ended 0-0 with both teams having chances to score without truly testing the keepers. The second half came and then the fun started on the 52nd minute when (after a lot of persuasion from the United faithful) Joe Dunne decided to bring on Barry Corr for Medy Elito.
Barry Corr had been with the U’s since 2015 and started his spell with 12 goals in 24 performances, before a game against Hartlepool in January 2016, where he suffered a freak knee injury. His next performances wouldn’t come until February 2017, where he scored twice in three games before having another knock keeping him out until towards the end of March. His last game was in a 2-1 victory against Crewe before another knock kept him out before being released ahead of the new season. He had groin surgery during the summer and was allowed to train with the club to improve his fitness, before signing on a game-by-game basis, and then on a contract to the end of the season. He played a couple of times in January and February before another injury delayed his return. He finally returned the week before Stevenage against Exeter and was named on the bench against the Borough.
The Amber Army erupted seeing the Cult Hero come on and stroll into the box in preparation of a free kick George Maris was about to send into the Stevenage box. The ball came in, and who was risen above everyone to head into the net? Barry Corr. His first touch was a header looping over the Stevenage keeper in no mans land and into the back of the net. The away end erupted, people jumping forward to embrace Barry who celebrated in front of the Amber Army. His first goal since February 2017, and the emotions were clear to all. It was a beautiful moment. Stevenage came and attacked in search of an equaliser, but it came to nothing as on the 83rd minute, United scored one of the best goals you’ll see at League Two level. A slick passing move involving Maris, Deegan, Brown and Halliday carved open the Stevenage defence eventually leading to Corr being isolated in front of the open goal to just tap in and grab his second of the game. Cue bedlam. The fans went crazy, chanting Barry’s name amongst other songs, before reminding Dino of the score seeing how much he loved seeing his team beat United. Full Time came and United left with 3 points after one of the best performances over the last few years. An interview came later with a tearful Barry Corr telling the media team about how he was so close to calling it a day, reminiscing on kicking a ball round a park in Swindon dodging dogs trying to regain fitness, and then saying how that result was the result of months of pain. The sheer joy of being in that away end and seeing Barry finally score after the toughest period of his career was genuinely beautiful, and to this day its known as Sir Barry Corr Day.
Games like these will forever live in the memory of fans who were there, the amazing atmosphere post the goals, the emotions shown by the team, everything about Barry Corr, they’re priceless and magical. Away days can be hit or miss in terms of the result but on a day like that, it’s perfection. I think I safely speak for all Cambridge fans in saying thank you Barry for the incredible memories in a Cambridge shirt, you’ll forever be a legend and cult hero for the U’s.