Are you a Spurs or Arsenal fan heartbroken by your teams involvement with the European Super League? Perhaps you support City or Liverpool from afar but want to get your football fix closer to home. Instead of getting yourself a free Grimsby Town shirt and making yourself the laughing stock of the 86 remaining League clubs (they’re bottom of the lot), come and visit the Abbey and see what a decent lower league team is like. Here’s six reasons to come and support the U’s instead.
1. Great Football
Okay, this might not be guaranteed, but right now the football on display at the Abbey is fantastic. Playing out from the back? Yep, we do that. Attacking full-backs? We’ve got those too. Loads of goals? Only the EFL’s second top scorer. It might not always be this good, but you take the rough with the smooth.
2. A Proper Stadium
The Abbey could do with a lick of paint here and there, but it’s romantically traditional. A terrace behind the goal or down one side, a seated stand full of charm down the other, a modern away end a conspicuous relic of a proposed ground redevelopement. Take your pick. Those in the main stand can even grab a beer at half time in the Dion Dublin bar. See those floodlights? Tallest in the country. See the Habbin Terrace down one side of the ground? Built by the fans. See the shiny new urinals you’re pissing in? They cost a million quid of FA Cup gate receipts from when we played Man United.
3. Mark Bonner
In Mark Bonner we’ve got a manager who is one of the brightest prospects in the Football League. He’s younger than most of us, but gets the club in ways others don’t. Sure, he’s got no playing experience, but Mourinho and Wenger were hardly decorated players either, and they’ve done alright before. Listen to Bonner’s press conferences before and after the game. He’s honest, passionate and gives a great insight into the game. And best of all, he’s a United fan, having stood on the terraces watching Roy McFarland’s great team of the late 1990’s. That beats your manager having previously scored a winner in the Champions League Final any day of the week if you ask us.
4. Easy to Get To
You can be at Cambridge Station in 50 minutes from Finsbury Park, or about an hour from Tottenham Hale or Liverpool Street. You can drive it in not much longer, and there’s loads of free parking near the ground. It takes a little more time from West London or Manchester, granted, but you can make a weekend of it in the City and enjoy some of the food and drink options in Cambridge, or just wander round looking at the University and watching people fall off punts. The ground’s a 25 minute walk from the station, but you’ll pass some great pubs on the way.
5. Wes Hoolahan
You might ask “why come and support a League Two team when we can watch international class players play for our own side?” Let us introduce you to Wes Hoolahan, mate. He’s international class, as over forty caps for the Republic of Ireland can attest. He even scored at Euro 2016 which is more than most of England’s team managed. Over 100 games at Premier League level, he’s still ripping it up on a weekly basis (except Tuesdays) and is a joy to watch.
6. Feel-Good Factor
On top of all that, if you still need convincing, take a look at some of the work the club does around the Community. Cambridge is one of the wealthiest cities in Europe, but the Abbey area around the ground is one of the poorest areas in the City. Despite the club not exactly being flush with money they still spend considerable time and effort to involve the local community with activities at the club. From volunteers delivering food parcels and care packages to vulnerable residents during the pandemic, to manager Mark Bonner phoning up fans during the middle of a difficult run before Christmas the way the club acts with regards to its responsibilities to its fans and neighbours is exemplary. Recently the clubs Community Trust has delivered a number of free footballs to underprivileged local kids, and given gift bags to community members at the local Mosque. Mark Bonner has said in his interviews that he impresses on the players the position they are in to make a connection with supporters, and even though we’ve not been able to watch as many games as we like this season, we’ve still seen players leaving video messages and sending signed shirts to fans. Our owner Paul Barry is a life-long fan too, and whilst he doesn’t possess Oligarch levels of wealth, he’s a safe custodian for the club, so we’re going to be around a while yet!
So yeah, if this Super League goes ahead and you feel abandoned by your ‘big six’ team – come and give United a try, we don’t think you’ll regret it.
(And if you do come along one week and we lose, come back the next… it’s all part of the fun!)