This afternoon we welcome the supporters, officials and playing staff of Portsmouth to the Abbey Stadium. The match this afternoon is also raising awareness of International Women’s Day which takes place on the 8th March. The day brings about attention in the women's rights movement to issues such as gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women.
Cambridge United has been fortunate that throughout its history we have had female supporters who have driven the club forwards from its earliest days to the modern day. The club could never have achieved what it has without them. Nowadays, we have female representation on the Shadow Board through the Amber Belles, on the club board via Jenny Horsfield. Throughout the club women play a vital part in its day-to-day organisation.
The Women’s football team now has its own board which feeds into the main club board and also comes under the management of Ben Strang as does the first team.
Today, I would like to remember the work of Lil Harrison. Lil is someone whose name is no longer remembered or known by many supporters. However, without her drive and ambition our club would never be where it is today. She should not be forgotten. From the days before the Great War, when the club played the likes of the Sons of Temperance and the University Press Third XI, until her death in 1996, Lil Harrison’s support for Abbey United and Cambridge United was unsurpassed.
During those years, Lil worked tirelessly and celebrated its raise from Cambridgeshire League to the Football League. From amateur football to professionalism. She was the backbone of the club. Her fundraising work and support was incredible. She furnished the clubhouse almost single-handedly, paying for a hundred tables and chairs out of husband Charlie’s bank account – without his knowledge – and then held raffles each week to pay it back. It is possible he never knew. Not that he would have minded. The couple had met when Charlie was on the Abbey United committee and they married in 1928. He was equally devoted to the U’s.
Lil was the driving force behind the Ladies’ Committee that raised money for the Habbin and Corona stands, the floodlights and even players’ kits. Her Christmas raffles were extraordinary, legendary affairs.
The only dream of Lil’s that didn’t come true was her vision of seeing United play in the top division. Her visits to the Abbey tailed off in the early 1990s, but her spirit is evoked every time someone sells a draw ticket or yells their support from the stands.
We remember Harry Habbin with a plaque on the Habbin Stand. Perhaps we should honour Lil in the way same so she never forgotten.
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I am the SLO @ Cambridge United. This page will provide information concerning match days for both sets of supporters.