by Jake Bonham (@JS_Bonzo)
My name is Jake. My first match was a 2-2 draw against Wrexham at the Abbey on 5th October 2002 and I have been hooked ever since. Here are a few shirts from my collection.
The Iconic Duo
The absolute must haves in any Cambridge United supporters collection. The Fujitsus! Having been born in 1994, I never got to see us play in these shirts. Neither did I get to witness our most successful period as a club. But I can still revel in the fact that we were almost founding members of the Premier League! Everything about them speaks pure class and was a huge tick once I managed to get my hands on both the home and away. I do believe that these designs wouldn’t have been remembered with as much fondness as they are without the success we produced in these.
One To Remake
If you know where to look you can find a gem. This one is our 1996-98 shirt and strangely enough was hanging around at a retro shirt seller in the Netherlands. I was only too happy to purchase it and bring it back home. To find it in such great condition was huge plus as the sponsor can be susceptible to damage, especially if machine washed. We’ve been
particularly spoiled in recent times with kits inspired by ones that have come before. I would love to see this one get its chance in the seasons to come. Maybe our new kit manufacturer could take up the opportunity next season?
The Underrated Legend
There is a great amount of noise around the fanbase of Ryan Donaldson’s Wembley free kick, and for good reason, but for me Liam Hughes’ header has something equally special about it. I remember early in his United career thinking ‘who is this imposter pretending to be a footballer?’ It was sometime around 2011-12 where he appeared at the abbey and had a particular stinker. Poor touches, poor passing, poor shooting etc. I couldn’t see him having a future at the club. Soon after he was loaned out to Corby which could be described as a masterstroke! After that, and under Richard Money, he proved me wrong and became a key member of our promotion and FA Trophy double winning side. Two goalless Wembley finals
came before, but it was Liam Hughes who got the ball rolling and provided the initial impetus to get us back into the football league!
I have fond memories of this shirt as it was the one I can remember us wearing when I started paying a bit more attention to us. We had started to turn the tide under Jimmy Quinn and were actually looking like being serious contenders in getting out of the Conference. Players that come to mind include McEvilly, Hatswell, Beesley, Morrison, Viera to name a few. That Hatswell free-kick against Forest Green surely has to go down as the best goal scored in the jersey.
We were blessed, truly blessed to have been able to witness such a talented player as Wes Hoolahan in a Cambridge United shirt. There has never been, and I don’t think there ever will be another player who will come close to his technical ability, finishing, passing ability to play in a U’s shirt again. What’s even more impressive is that he did it with what appeared to be minimum effort. Players’ stood off him with fear and sheer bewilderment at what was going on. He must have breezed past players who were almost half his age both in our promotion season and in our first season in League One.
I am going to be controversial here and say I like the design of this shirt. It’s bold, brave and different. Many fans didn’t take to it at first. It must surely now be remembered as the shirt we wore during our most famous and successful appearance in the FA Cup, beating Newcastle 1-0 at St James’ Park!
Pride of My Collection
Scott Rendell was the first real goal scoring striker I can confidently recollect of my time supporting the U’s. The guy just knew where the goal was and had a knack of being in the right place at the right time. That goal in extra time against Stevenage in the play-offs was a highlight. The Abbey was truly bouncing that day. How we could have used someone like
him this season! This particular shirt is his match worn shirt at the final in 2009 and signed by most of the squad from that season. That day was hugely deflating though as we never really turned up and showed the quality that we had proved throughout that season. But I suppose you have to look where we are now and where Torquay have ended up. As they say, it’s a funny old game!
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