The Abbey / Cambridge United Football Club and Supporters’ Club 1947 to 1961 - Percy Neal Part 3
We are continuing with the story of Percy Neal and his association with Abbey United / Cambridge United between 1947 and 1961. Below is the final part.
Part 1 if you have missed it can be found by clicking here
Part 2 can be found by clicking here
During 1956, the football club engaged the services of a well-known player for the team “Wilf Mannion”. His services and style of football attracted many new supporters – he was a household name. Wilf left the club during 1958. A Benefit Match was arranged for him on 19th March 1958.
In 1956 Russell Crane decided to “hang up his boots” having played football since the age of 15, mostly at the Abby Club. Whilst serving in the Royal Navy during World War II he also played football in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.
Russell’s Benefit Match was arranged for 16th April 1956. An attraction “Draw Prize” was organised – a football autographed by Stanley Matthews and 46 other personalities in the football world.
At the end of the match the autographed ball was presented by the Mayor of Cambridge (Alderman E T Halman JP MA) to the holder of the winning ticket. This was followed by a very successful Benefit Dance held in the Guildhall.
The stand depicted on this programme was kindly provided by M/s Swainland & Son, Signwriters.
The Football Club in 1959 decided to commence the development of the Habbin Stand. The site adjacent to Coldhams Common was cleared and the old dressing rooms dismantled. Teams of enthusiastic supporters, under the guidance of tradesmen, commenced the large task of digging the footings and cement-mixing, bricklaying etc. The fund-raisers working hard providing a backing cash flow. Another of the Club’s aims in its early stage of development. The architect of this development, who gave his services voluntarily, was Mr R Jackson a senior architect of the South Cambs District Council.
I was obliged in 1960 to terminate my services as secretary of the Sportsmen’s Guild. My wife Edna was experiencing a strange illness which developed into a lifetime disablement. Multiple Sclerosis was diagnosed and with two young sons to cope with, my services were much more needed at home. Because of this sad development in our lives I was unable to see the growth of the Habbin Stand, but have always been proud that I was active in its early development.
In conclusion to my story, I would like to highlight my two sons, supporters since toddlers, activities with United. Our eldest son Paul played in the Youth Team at the age of 16. Bill Lievers was then the Club’s manager. At the age of 18 he was accepted into the Reserve Team. Ron Atkinson was then the Club’s manager. Paul had to decide whether he should become a professional or continue his career as an accountant. He chose the latter.
Our youngest son, Antony, a supporter all his life, illustrates an example of loyalty.
A party of 4 of his friends, David Kurdyknowski, the eldest, and a car owner, and fortunately a member of the AA Relay, all dressed in supporters’ hats and scarves attempted the car journey to Plymouth for an FA Cup game. Their car broke down some 16 miles from Plymouth. The AA towed them to a nearby garage and they continued their journey by hitch-hiking and buses, arriving at Plymouth for the kick-off. After the game they returned to the garage to learn that the garage could not effect repairs. They slept in the car overnight and the AA Relay conveyed the happy party back to Cambridge the following day.
Antony's son. Jake, not yet 2 years old attended his first game at the United only recently – 28th February 1992, when United beat Bristol Rovers 6-1.
Therefore, over the past 45 years some four generations of the Crane / Neal families have been loyal supporters and we all wish Cambridge United every success in their future endeavours.
LISTEN TO FRANK PETTIT'S STORY BY CLICKING HERE
CFU is a supporters organistion that has help shaped Cambridge United
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