Robert Osbourn’s “View from the Van”
Robert Osbourn’s “View from the Van”
The CFU caravan is, as many will know, something of a misnomer given that it is, in reality, a former food catering trailer badged with CFU logos and a wide service hatch down one side.
Nevertheless, it serves its purpose pretty well, acting as both a base for CFU on matchdays and as a sales point for the football club so far as programmes, 50/50 draw tickets and other items are concerned.
On a matchday, the CFU ‘van can be found in the front car park at the Abbey Stadium, close to the road, having been manhandled into place from its usual resting place betwixt the Newmarket Road End turnstiles and the side wall of the Supporters Club.
My usual routine before matches is to stock up with programmes and 50/50 tickets, before hauling the ‘van through the side gate leading to the driveway. If I’m lucky, one of the stewards will be able to lend a hand or I’ll try to grab a friendly passer-by – even the club Chairman has found himself in the right place at the right time, on occasion!
After rearranging the furniture (removing the noticeboards to the outside) and sorting out the stock, it’s usually “shutters going up” – a bit like Dinnerladies – about two and a half hours before kick-off, when regular early arrivals appear for their usual orders.
The myriad of other delights which the CFU ‘van offers include, as you would expect, the facility to join CFU or to renew a subscription. You can also sign up for membership of the CUFC Lottery, which is managed and run by Brian Thorby and a small group of other CFU members. The numbers involved are growing steadily and this means that the prize fund is bigger and more is raised for the club and its charities. At just £2 a week, it is a great way of supporting Cambridge United.
We also have CUFC Legends scratchcards at £1 and a full set of 32 will get you a free poster to display them. 100 Years of Coconuts has a variety of merchandise, including polo shirts, sweatshirts, and hats available to order in several colour choices, with the regular “Happy Harry” logo and now the colourful and very popularl retro club logo. Delivery is usually a week from ordering. We also have a selection of coasters and fridge magnets.
The ‘van also acts as a base for the Abbey Helpers – the folk in purple T shirts who distribute sweeties as well as welcoming fans to games. It is the collection and return point for the Audio Description headsets which allow fans (home and visiting) whose eyesight is poor to receive a detailed description of all the action on the pitch from our team of dedicated describers, and this is really appreciated by them. (Idea: maybe some refs could benefit from having a set…..?)
My partner in crime at the ‘van is Terry Wilby, CFU’s Membership Secretary, who brings with him the card payment device which allows CFU members who are without cash to use their card to settle their subs.
We have stocks of CFU books such as “100 Years – 50 Memorable matches” and Wendy “Woo” Johnson’s matchday poetry – good value - just £4. When available, we also have player topped cupcakes, loving crafted by Lyndsey Halbert, and available to pre-order in boxes of 4 or 6.
Our regular customers stop by for a football chat and often ask the question “Is Dave about?” Of course, Dave Matthew Jones is usually about and sometimes we can even find him! Do pay us a visit. We shall be pleased to see you and to relieve you of some cash in the cause of Cambridge United.
I would, however, like to clear up any confusion about the 50/50 draw – when we sell you your tickets, they have the same chance of winning as any others – it’s the person who draws the winning numbers you should blame if your numbers are not called
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