The Sound of Football: Cambridge United (Andrew)

Every fortnight we cover the best and worst football songs from every club in the UK from our book ‘The Sound Of Football: Every Club, Every Song’. You can buy it here

Cambridge United

Nickname: The U’s

Ground: Abbey Stadium

Stadium Capacity: 8,100

Song: I’ve Got A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts

Although Cambridge United was formed in 1912, the town has an even longer football pedigree. It all started with the Roman game of harpastum, an early kind of ball game that involved two teams trying to keep the ball on their half of the field for as long as possible, and which was played in Cambridge when the Romans conquered the town.  

During the middle ages, a form of the game continued as a team from the university – the gowns – competed against a team from the town. This town vs gown match was fierce and, to try and impose some order to it, in 1848, the teams met to establish one uniform set of rules.  These rules were written on papers fixed to the trees in Cambridge and, later, when the Football Association was founded in 1863, they used the Cambridge rules. 

However, helping write the rules did not provide Cambridge United with an easy pass into the football league. It was nearly 40 years before the club became professional in 1949, and, even then, it didn’t enter the football league until 1970.

When it did, you would hear ‘I’ve Got A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts’ after they won their first league game against Oldham Athletic on 29 August 1970, just as it has been played after almost every home victory. You may wonder what connection coconuts have with Cambridge. The answer is… none. As BBC News reported in 2015, one fan, Robin Mansfield, remembered how the song was chosen:

It’s quite simple.  Our neighbour, Jack Morgan, did the announcements in those days. He said: ‘I had a pile of records in front of me, and that was the one on the top’.”

Buy the Sound of Football from Amazon.

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