100 Years of Coconuts Chairperson Andy Fox has long campaigned for a change to our current badge. Here he puts across what he’d like to see on our shirts going forward.
I don’t genuinely remember the first time I thought the CUFC badge needed changing. The trigger no doubt was rediscovering, for want of a better word, our original United in Endeavour badge which was created in the 60s but curiously never found its way on to a Utd shirt. Not properly until the magnificent 50th anniversary kit at least. Some of my fellow colleagues on the Coconuts team may recall that this is how I came to join up with them as I was championing the old badge and most, if not all, thought it was a worthy replacement for the existing badge. After all I would never have met many inestimable members of Coconuts if life hadn’t veered that way; how unenriched could I have been?
CURRENT CUFC BADGE
The existing badge has nothing if not longevity. First introduced in 1986 I don’t think it has suffered as much as a discernible tweak in 37 years. That must be some sort of record when you consider the other 91 clubs and what a fluid market the football club imagery industry is these days.
I don’t know who designed it but I think it’s apposite to say that 1986 represented a rather fallow period in the history of the U’s. Back in the fourth division after that halcyon period in division two and, probably as bad as that, our club colours had descended in to a shade of all putrid yellow which many of us(well me anyway) still struggle with the legacy of to this day! Y’army we were not when Big Ron was around in the mid to late 70s, I can tell you. The badge contains one nod to the past in the form of the upper structures of the bridge, familiar to some U’s fans as being part of the ‘book & ball’ badge(first worn in 1974) and whose history was embedded in the United in Endeavour badge referenced above and first of all of course in the Cambridge Coat of Arms created in 1575. Representing the ‘Great Bridge’ or better known to many as Magdalene Bridge. As it looked in the 16th century, apparently.
We should allow some context when judging the efforts of 1986. Our beloved football club is one that has struggled with its identity in terms of badge/logo/external representation at times. When the switch was made from Abbey to Cambridge United in 1951 this naturally saw the demise of the rudimentary AU monogram badge. But how do you explain the lack of ANY badge on a shirt from then until 1974(see above)? That surely is a record and an unenviable one at that, even allowing for a period in the late 60s when the trend for kits generally went very let’s say minimalist. Picture George Best in a crew neck, no badge and plain red socks, for example.
Additionally, and this has probably been my biggest(but most fun) challenge, one thing Cambridge United have suffered from is there is not one single “thing” – icon, landmark, date, milestone, etc that say 90% of the fan base would quote back to you if so asked to comment. Do you know what I mean? What would U’s fans come back with? Allotments, Habbin, Corona depot, Cut Throat Lane, Coconuts, Newmarket Road, a moose, etc. But no single defining “thing” that you’d insist MUST appear for example on any new badge design. To give you a few famous examples, Derby have the ram, Leicester(fox), Everton (sweets), Brentford (bee), Arsenal (cannon) and for some out there the most synonymous of all, Spurs (cockerel).
WEAKNESSES OF THE CURRENT BADGE
It doesn’t seep with imagination, does it? For many it has been riddled as a toilet seat. Its biggest defenders will say that it has stood the test of time and is synonymous with CUFC. I say that if you blocked out the scroll many football fans would struggle to identify which club it represents. The CU never really seems to enjoy consistency of colour. An away fan once joked to me that we should call it the ‘Jimmy’ badge, as in CU Jimmy….yeah quite. And the top of the badge is still often referred to as castle turrets although Cambridge ‘lost’ its castle many hundreds of years ago. Finally, if you place your wheelie bin in the sun on a nice day the shadow depicts the top of the badge. Not that I’m obsessed or anything. Finally, finally, one popular word these days sums it all up for me and that is ‘tinpot’. CUFC is not and never has been a tinpot club, in my opinion and our badge does us all a disservice.
These were my fundamentals as part of a new design:
- Outline of design – shield or circle? The modern football world loves circles when it comes to badge design, governed partly by the digital age and the ease with which it can adapt its work where circular designs are concerned(apparently). Call me old-fashioned but I think the UIE shield is “up there” but accepting there may have to be some flexibility in this area.
- The colour scheme of the design has to be unequivocally black and amber. NO yellow. Maybe a little bit of white.
- Whilst there are some historians who believe that the foundation of our Club may well be earlier than 1912, it is my belief that whilst we have documentary evidence only that Abbey United was established in 1912 then that year should appear on the badge. A starting point if you like. Corny for some but a little detail goes a long way, in my opinion. And it’s an identity thing(see above).
- The circumstances around the forming of Abbey Utd are key. We were pretty sure that the Club was born out of the Sunday school of the local Abbey Church(St Andrew’s) on Newmarket Road which represented the parish of St Andrew-the-Less. Like dozens of current pro football clubs. The church had originally been built by the Barnwell Priory in the early 13th century. We now know, following further research in late 2021/early 2022 that actually the selection pool for the football club was derived mainly from the church choir. Thus there is no excuse for the appalling(at times) singing generated from the Corona End! Any visit to the now very sorry- looking church cannot fail to miss the iconic figure of St Andrew sculpted above the main entrance. I am not religious but it is an image which has haunted me since I first visited this edifice and should be included in the new badge. It is not a religious connotation, merely recognition of our roots. Again see ‘identity.’ We didn’t know at the time but here we are in 2023 struggling with the news that the Abbey Church has effectively been closed for good, about to go through a deconsecration process and facing the prospect of being redeveloped commercially or even worse perhaps, levelled. Very sad. A small but poignant reminder from the local football club then of things lost.
- Perhaps controversial to some but I believe we should recognise that the Club is based in the city of Cambridge and essentially leverage the world-renowned seat of learning that it is. After all it’s on the top ten most visited cities in the UK list. We have history of ‘borrowing’ the Great Bridge from the city’s coat of arms and the river runs close both to our foundation and is what, less than half a mile from the Abbey now via the Chisholm trail. These elements must be included, however figuratively, in the new badge.
- We are a football club. There should be a football in the new badge. Another iconic remnant of the UIE badge. Not many modern day badges have a football although we have had to live with one in ours as the focal point since 1986.
- Another “crime” of the current badge is it ditched the club’s motto. Of all the 92 clubs I think it’s fair to say that we are well known for using our motto, leveraging it and displaying it at every opportunity. It’s not pretentious and it’s not in Latin. And everybody loves it, yes? Has to be back on the badge design.
Points 1 – 7 above set the scene for the new badge argument. The six million dollar question is, does the club want to set the hare running on this subject? Paul Barry’s comments on 11 May suggest so but I’m yet to be completely convinced……if they are then we’re all ready to go!
Leave a Reply