This is an edited version of an article that appeared in the Cambridge United matchday programme for the game against Bristol Rovers on 30 October 2015.
It’s as frustrating as trying to find Port Vale in an atlas and as mysterious as Donald Trump’s hairdo: when, how and why did Abbey United come into being?
Andrew Bennett’s masterly history of the club’s early years, which you can read in Newmarket Road Roughs (buy it here), the first volume of his Celery & Coconuts series, is probably as close to the truth as it’s possible to be at present, but there are still nagging questions that require definitive answers.
We all know that United was founded in 1912, don’t we? Do we?
There are those who swear that the club that emerged in 1919 and took its place in the Cambridgeshire League two years later had no connection with the pre-war Abbey United that played friendlies against the likes of the Sons of Temperance and Blossom Rovers.
Just two pieces of documentary evidence that connect the two and point to a foundation date of 1912 – some headed notepaper from 1926 and a report of the club’s annual dinner in the Cambridge Daily News of 28 May 1925 – have so far been unearthed. Apart from that, it’s all hearsay and anecdote.
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