Today, all those years ago saw Abbey United’s new home being officially opened on the August 31st 1932
Below is the story written by Luke Emson following Ed's 100th birthday.
He played in the first match on the new ground for Cambridge University Press.
Edwin William Chapman sadly passed away on Friday 23 November 2012
Ed Chapman: 100 Years Old
The turn of the year marked the start of centenary celebrations for Cambridge United Football Club, an excuse for reflection on the last century. And in late January, fireworks erupted in magnificent colours overhead on a chilly winter evening.
However, this extremely fitting festivity was not in celebration of the U’s, who started life as Abbey United, but to mark another centenary year, with friends and family gathered on the pavement in Green Park to celebrate the 100th birthday of local lad Eddie Chapman.
Following the entertainment and a spontaneous outbreak of Happy Birthday with champagne held aloft, Ed retreated from the cold into his front living room, beside the fireplace, where he began to look back on his time with his thoughts and memories about football in years gone by.
Ed was very much interested in sport and played for Cambridge University Press, where he worked from his early teenage years in Trumpington Street, in both football during the winter and cricket in the summer.
The players were given Saturdays off to allow them to play and would travel to games by coach with their partner.
Upon being prompted to recollect when he started playing the beautiful game, Ed chortled: “Since I was about two, I think.”
In football of 2012, it is almost ridiculous to suggest a pitch which is not a lush-green, flat surface, but Ed suffered unimaginably poor quality pitches and described them as “awful,” before adding: “They weren’t pitches back then.”
During Ed’s lifetime, his local club played in five different locations with the newly-formed Abbey United playing on Midsummer Common in the year of his birth, until the First World War.
In the club's twentieth year, in a bid to expand following an unsuccessful move to Parker’s Piece in the heart of Cambridge, Ed saw the club move once more to Newmarket Road, and to the site of the current R Costings Abbey Stadium.
During this time, the footballs themselves were nothing like the light, mind-of-their-own swerving balls of today, far from it. However, Ed shrugged off suggestions he had it much tougher with the equipment of his era, by saying: “They weren’t very hard – just leather and rubber.”
And the 100-year-old, bearing a mischievous twinkle in his eyes when quizzed on the big boots he used to wear, replied: “No, mine weren’t (big) – I had small feet.”
Not only does Ed share the same birth year as his local club, he played a part in its history, as a 20-year-old, by playing in the club’s first game at the Abbey.
Ed, playing left-half, was on the losing side as his Cambridge University Press side went down 2-0 in the 1932 friendly, but he still remembers the facilities available at the time, following the celebrations of the new ground opening.
“You’d always get a good cup of tea at the end (of a game) – there were eatables at half-time,” reminisced Ed. “There were no pools or anything (to wash in) – just tin bathtubs.”
One summer, following the football season, Ed had the pleasure of playing against cricket legend Sir Jack Hobbs, and remembers agonisingly dropping the England international on 99, who then proceeded to notch a century.
Whilst Ed’s football days have passed, the sport itself continues to progress and Cambridge United will be looking to reflect on their history to formulate a springboard for success over the next century.
Cambridge Fans United