It’s Easter this weekend so we’re taking a look at those who left us, only to return again at a later date. Some of these players are all-time legends, some of them are controversial but they’ve all got one thing in common; Two spells at the Abbey Stadium.
There’s probably some we’ve forgotten about so feel free to remind us of them over on Twitter (@abbeystandpod) !
Let’s start with the latest prodigal son, Michael Morrison. His return to United in January after 15 years away must be some kind of record. A cultured defender, Morro came through the youth system at the Abbey, making his debut against Halifax at the age of 17 during our first season in the Conference. A number of impressive performances saw Morrison linked with moves to the Premier League, but it was Leicester who came calling, paying a vital fee for Morrison after he’d renewed his contract. He made over 120 appearances in his first spell, and will be looking to add to the 11 in the bag already this season.
Aaah Kwesi. It wouldn’t be UTAS if we didn’t mention Kwesi Appiah would it? Ten league goals in fourteen league appearances after he joined from Crystal Palace during the 2013-14 season. Richard Money was keen to extend Kwesi’s loan for the season to improve our promotion chances, but instead Appiah went to Notts County in League One, and then on to AFC Wimbledon once that loan had expired. The 2014-15 season saw United playing in League Two, and Appiah returned to add another eight goals to his tally before joining Championship Reading after the AFCON.
Where do we start with Shaggy? United’s all time top scorer, he was an integral part of John Beck’s barnstorming early 90’s squad that streamrollered its way up the Leagues and into two FA Cup Quarter Finals. Forming a formidable partnership with Dion Dublin, Shaggy scored over fifty goals for the U’s before being sold to Bristol Rovers as part of possibly the worst transfer deal of all time, United adding fifty grand to the deal and taking Devon White (22 appearances, 4 goals) in return. Taylor thrived down in Bristol, continuing to score regularly, earning himself a £300k move to Bradford City, before Luton paid £200k a season later. The move to Luton didn’t really work out, as Taylor found himself loaned out to Lincoln and Colchester United, before Roy McFarland moved to bring him home. By this time Shaggy was 33 years old, but his experience proved invaluable as he taught his goalscoring nous to Martin Butler and Trevor Benjamin, and Shaggy added another 40-plus goals over the years to win promotion from Division Three and become our top scorer in the process. A short spell as manager following the departure of John Beck saw him take us to our first Cup Final in the LDV, before John retired from professional football. He has since beaten addiction, and spent a short while assisting Colin Calderwood, and is still a popular figure around the Abbey.
Now fighting for promotion to the Premier League with Luton, Luke Berry’s first move away from Cambridge wasn’t that successful, joining Barnsley after our promotion to League Two. Berry came through the United youth system, making his first team debut in 2010 and cementing himself as one of the most exciting prospects outside the Football League. After one season at Oakwell he returned to the Abbey, and hit a rich spell of form over the next two campaigns, bagging double figures in each of them. Another one who signed a contract extension to ensure United got some money for his sale, Berry has since got over a rocky start at Luton and is an important part of their squad.
A divisive figure, as we’ll come to see, Scott joined United from Crawley Town in 2007, scoring 17 goals in 29 League games to keep United in the promotion hunt, attracting the attention of that lot up the road. Rendell moved to London Road and achieved fuck all before coming back to civilisation where he wrote himself into United folklore by scoring a 119th minute winner against Stevenage to send United to Wembley for the second time. He then knocked round the lower divisions a bit after that, but we’ll never forget that goal.
Another one of those heroes that gave their all for the club during our early Conference years – Robbie Simpson is quite possibly the reason we even have a club to support to this day. United were looking like falling into regional football at the end of the 2006-07 season, but Simpson’s goal at Aldershot ensured we’d live to fight another day. This earned him a move to Coventry City, then of the Championship. Robbie then played for a whole host of League One and Two clubs including Huddersfield, Brentford, Oldham (where he scored against Liverpool at Anfield) and Leyton Orient, before joining United during their first season back in the 92. Simpson added another thirteen goals for the U’s over the next two seasons before finishing his career via Exeter and MK Dons.
And finally (well, there’s probably loads more but we’ve run out of space), Sam Smith. Joined in 2019 and played a part during the COVID-shortened season before two spells at Tranmere and Cheltenham (where he won promotion from League Two at the same time as us) before coming back to United where despite being caught offside about thirty times ever game has scored almost thirty goals over the past couple of seasons.
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