The fourth in a six-part series of articles looking at the new sides we’ll be facing again in the 2014/15 season, by Dale Hurman.
Cambridge United returned to the Football League after a nine year absence following their 2-1 win over Gateshead in the Conference Premier play-off final at Wembley.
There is archaeological evidence of settlements in Cambridge prior to the Roman Empire, and following its fall, the Saxons took over the land as the town evolved to become Cambridge. The Vikings arrived in 875 and under Danelaw, the town grew rapidly. The Saxons resumed control until 1068 when William the Conqueror arrived in the town.
Cambridge University, the influence of one of Wycombe Wanderers' two blues, was established in 1209, founded by students escaping from the hostile townspeople in Oxford. The town north of the river Granta was almost wiped out by the Black Death in 1349. It played a significant role in the English Civil War and Oliver Cromwell assumed control of the town in 1643.
Increased life expectancy and improved agricultural production saw the town expand rapidly and the railway soon arrived in 1845, leading to heavier industries such as brick, cement and malt.
Despite becoming a military centre during the Second World War, it suffered relatively lightly from German bombing raids with no damage to historic buildings. Cambridge was granted City status in 1951.
The U’s were formed in 1912 but had to wait until 1970 before reaching the Football League when they were elected as Southern League Premier Division Champions, replacing Bradford Park Avenue.
They almost made it to the Premier League in 1992 when they reached the then second division play-offs under manager John Beck, but were beaten 6-1 on aggregate by Leicester City in the two-legged semi-final.
That was the high watermark and 18 months later they travelled to Adams Park for a F.A. Cup second round clash as the two sides met for the first time. Tony Hemmings' strike proved to be enough to give the Chairboys a 1-0 win and earn a third round tie with Norwich City.
The first league meeting came eight months later on the opening day of the 1994/95 season and the Wanderers blew their opponents away with a 3-0 win at Adams Park. Simon Garner broke the deadlock inside the first two minutes before Hemmings and a Jason Cousins penalty sealed a handsome victory.
The last meeting between the two sides came in March 2005 at the Abbey Stadium. The U’s were suffering both on and off the pitch but Gus Uhlenbeek’s scrambled effort wasn’t enough to prevent the hosts from snatching a 2-1 win.
Cambridge United were relegated from the Football League at the end of that season and administration followed soon afterwards. Life in non-league football was tough at times and they suffered a humiliating 5-0 defeat away at local rivals Histon in an F.A. Trophy tie in 2006.
Their fortunes improved and twice finished as runners-up in the Conference Premier in 2008 and 2009 and reached the play-off final at Wembley. Sadly for the U’s they were beaten 1-0 by Exeter City and then 2-0 by Torquay United the following year.
It was third time lucky this year however as experienced manager Richard Money guided them to a cup and promotion double. They thrashed Gosport Borough 4-0 in the F.A. Trophy at Wembley in March and returned again in May.
They finished as runners-up behind Champions Luton Town and saw off AFC Halifax Town in the two-legged play-off semi-final. Goals from Liam Hughes and Ryan Donaldson were enough to see off Gateshead in the final to seal their return to the Football League.
Richard Money was appointed as head coach in October 2012, replacing Jez George, who moved “upstairs” into a Director of Football role. Money’s first managerial role came at Scunthorpe United and faced the Blues in their inaugural Football League campaign back in 1993/94.
He spent ten years as a coach before managing in Sweden and Australia. His greatest success came at Walsall where he led the Saddlers to the League Two title in 2006/07. He spent 17 months at Luton Town before taking over the reigns at the Abbey Stadium.
Following the success at Wembley he has been busy during the close season strengthening his squad for the new campaign. Striker Matthew Barnes-Homer, a former Chairboys loanee, has been released whilst striker Ashley Chambers, another ex-loan Blue, has joined Dagenham & Redbridge.
The most notable signing has been former Manchester United winger Luke Chadwick, whose loan move has been made permanent. Goalkeeper Chris Dunn has joined from Yeovil Town whilst midfielder Johnny Hunt has arrived from Wrexham, both on two-year deals.
Striker Robbie Simpson has also re-signed from Leyton Orient on a two-year contract for a second spell at the Abbey Stadium. They're also chasing Crystal Palace striker Kwesi Appiah, who scored ten goals in 14 league games whilst on loan with the U’s last season.
Attacking midfielder Luke Berry was their outstanding performer last time around, scoring an impressive 14 goals. Captain Ian Miller is a vital cog in the centre of defence or a holding midfield role and is expected to recover from an ankle injury suffered in the play-off final win at Wembley in time for the start of the new season.
We host the U’s at Adams Park on Saturday 27th September 2014.
We will travel to the Abbey Stadium on Saturday 7th February 2015.