The exact origins of Abbey United Football Club, later to become Cambridge United, are obscured by a fog of legend and hearsay. Research by 100 Years of Coconuts will one day uncover the truth but, meanwhile, Andrew Bennett's account of the club's pre-World War II history is as comprehensive and accurate as it can possibly be. Read on, and look out for the next instalments, coming to 100yearsofcoconuts.co.uk soon.
The first club to be called Cambridge United came into being on 22 April 1910 at the behest of the Cambridgeshire Football Association. As early as 1903 the CFA had wanted to have a club to represent the best of Cambridge’s footballers, but they fell out with the prime candidates, St Mary’s, in 1908. St Mary’s disbanded, reformed as Cambridge Town and affiliated themselves to the rival Amateur FA instead of the Football Association, in a direct snub to Cambs FA.
The county association therefore purchased Malta Rec (a green space in Malta Road off Mill Road) from Jesus College, built a grandstand and dressing rooms and renamed it the County Ground as a home for both the county representative side and the newly formed United. The club attracted many players from the recently disbanded Chesterton Laurels including legendary Cambridgeshire, Surrey and England cricketer Jack Hobbs, who was born in Barnwell. They played their first season in the East Anglian League, hosted friendlies against Aston Villa and Norwich City and progressed to the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup, where they were eliminated by Luton Town.
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