Cambridge City F.C.
|Full name||Cambridge City Football Club|
|Founded||1908 (as Cambridge Town)|
(groundshare with Histon F.C.)
|League||Isthmian League North Division|
|2018–19||Southern League Division One Central, 12th of 20 (transferred)|
Cambridge City Football Club is an English football club currently based in Impington, Cambridgeshire. The team competes in the Southern League, Division One Central. Formed in 1908 as Cambridge Town, the club have spent their entire history as a non-league club, and have operated as amateur, professional, and semi-professional at different periods.
The club were based at the City Ground, Cambridge, between 1922 and 2013. After a groundshare at Histon's Bridge Road groundshare at Westwood Road in St Ives (2015–18) and Histon (2018–) while new ground at Sawston being built. Their home colours are white and black, leading to the club's nickname of The Lilywhites.
The club was founded in 1908 as Cambridge Town F.C., as Cambridge had not been granted city status at that point, and were committed to amateur sport. The club competed in the Southern Amateur League, developing a fierce rivalry with Ipswich Town that was evident both on and off the pitch. In 1936 the club were invited to apply to the Football League, in an attempt to expand the professional game in East Anglia (Norwich City were the only football league club in the region at that time). However, Town declined in order that the club should uphold its amateur nature, though Ipswich took up the offer and were elected in 1938.
The resumption of football after the Second World War saw Cambridge Town joining the Spartan League, winning the competition 3 times between 1945 and 1950, before joining the Athenian League for the 1950–51 season. Cambridge was formally granted city status in 1951. Both Cambridge Town and their neighbours Abbey United applied to change their name to Cambridge City. Cambridge Town's application was approved because it arrived first and therefore Abbey United changed their name to Cambridge United In 1958, 22 years after turning down the chance to apply to the Football League, Cambridge City joined the Southern League South Eastern zone as a professional club. The club went on to make five applications to join the Football League between 1959 and 1974, all of which were unsuccessful.
In the late 1950s and 1960s Cambridge City commanded the highest attendances in non-league football, regularly attracting average gates in excess of 3,500 (higher than rivals United during that period) and occasionally attracting gates over 10,000. They were Southern League Champions in 1962–63 and stayed in the League's top division until 1968, when they were relegated and turned semi-professional. They were promoted back to the Premier Division after finishing in the Division One runners-up spot in 1969–70, and finished second in their first season back in the Premier Division.
Cambridge United were elected into the Football League in 1970, and from that point City struggled to attract as many supporters to their games as their cross-city rivals – by the early 1980s, when United were enjoying a prolonged spell in the 2nd Division, City were attracting fewer than 200 supporters to each game. 1975–76 saw the second relegation in the club's history, into the Southern League's Division One North. They remained there until 1979–80, when a re-organisation of the league's structure, in order to become a feeder to the newly formed Football Conference, placed City in the Midland Division. A switch was made to the Southern Division in the 1982–83 season and this seemed to coincide with a turn around in City's fortunes, and 1985–86 saw City win the division on goal difference and gain promotion back to the Premier Division.
After several years in the 1990s avoiding relegation, the club joined the Football Conference's newly formed South Division in 2004–05, embarking on a successful FA Cup run in the same season – following United's relegation from the League in 2005, the two Cambridge clubs were only one division apart. However, the club was encountering financial difficulties and the club's City Ground was sold to an Isle of Man company called Ross River, which was linked to Brian York, a man who had briefly been a director of the club. The then board announced that it was to scrap the first team and make the reserve team into a feeder for Cambridge United. This prompted the formation of a supporters' trust, who within weeks had taken over the running of the club. The club took Ross River to court, where it was ruled that the club were victims of fraudulent misrepresentation and bribery – the former chief executive Arthur Eastham having taken a £10,000 payment from Brian York. though the original deal was not overturned.
Colours and crest
Cambridge City have traditionally played in white shirts, leading to the club being nicknamed "The Lilywhites", they currently play in white shirts, black shorts and black socks. Their current away strip is sky blue shirts, sky blue shorts and sky blue socks.
The club's badge is a simplified version of the crest of the city of Cambridge, featuring a fortified bridge over a river.
The City Ground (also known as "Milton Road"), was Cambridge City's home ground from 29 April 1922 until 27 April 2013. It is located in the Chesterton area of the city, approximately 0.62 miles (1 km) north of the city centre. The original ground was one of the largest outside the football league and was estimated to have a capacity in excess of 16,000, although the highest recorded attendance was 12,058 against Leytonstone on 11 Feb 1950. In the mid 1980s, part of the land the original ground stood on was sold for redevelopment, with a new ground built on the remaining land. The capacity of the second ground was approximately 3,000 with 700 seats.
The club was in a legal dispute with their landlords over the ground, which was sold by a previous board of directors for less than its market value. The High Court ruled that the club had been fraudulently misrepresented, and the club will receive 50% of the development profits on the site.
In February 2010, Cambridge City announced a three-year ground-share with Newmarket Town at their Cricket Field Road ground in Newmarket, approximately 13 miles away, for the 2010–2011 season. The ground was deemed to need work to bring it up to the required standard, and Cambridge City were to use this time to seek a permanent home closer to Cambridge. The groundshare was later deferred several times, and in April 2013, it was announced that the club had agreed a 2-year groundshare with neighbours Histon, with City sharing Bridge Road from the beginning of the 2013–14 season. On 30 March 2015, it was announced that the club had reached a groundshare agreement with St Ives Town for the use of St Ives' Westwood Road stadium.
In 2012, it was announced that the club's President, Len Satchell, had purchased 35 acres of land in Sawston, with a view to building the club a new 3,000 seat stadium, alongside community facilities for Sawston and the surrounding villages. Following public consultation and an appeal over the decision to grant Planning Permission, Len Satchell has stated their intention to go ahead with the development (May 2016).
Honours and records
- Southern League
- Champions 1962–63
- Southern League Southern Division
- Champions 1985–86
- Southern League Cup
- Champions 2009–10
- FA Cup
- Second Round 2004–05
- FA Trophy
- Fifth Round 2004–05, 2005–06
- FA Amateur Cup
- Semi-final 1927–28
- Supporters Direct Cup
- Joint winners 2007
Cambridge City's reserve team joined the Eastern Counties League in 1959 and won the Division One title in 2004. They were replaced in the league in 2006 by the newly formed feeder club Cambridge Regional College. A reformed Cambridge City reserve side was born playing at Milton Road, and won promotion as champions from the Kershaw Senior A League in the 2012/2013 season. After a period of uncertainty about the future home of the reserves after moving from Milton Road, a deal was announced with local side Cottenham to use their facilities.
- 1959–60 Joined Eastern Counties League
- 1961–62 Runners-up
- 1963–64 Joined Metropolitan League
- 1965–66 Rejoined Eastern Counties League
- 1966 Left Eastern Counties League
- 1973–74 Rejoined Eastern Counties League
- 1976 Left Eastern Counties League
- 1991–92 Rejoined Eastern Counties League, in Division One
- 1995 Left Eastern Counties League
- 1996–97 Rejoined Eastern Counties League
- 1998 Left Eastern Counties League
- 1999–2000 Rejoined Eastern Counties League
- 2003–04 Eastern Counties League Division One Champions; Promoted to Premier Division
- 2012–13 Kershaw Senior A League Champions; Promoted to Kershaw Premier Division
- Best league position: 2nd in Eastern Counties League, 1961–62
- Cambridge City at the Football Club History Database
- "Cambridge City FC – history". www.cambridgecity.co.uk. Retrieved 22 January 2008.
- "Cambridge City FC". www.pyramidpassion.co.uk. Retrieved 6 October 2008.
- "Cambridge United Potted History". www.cambridge-united.co.uk. Archived from the original on 8 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
- "History – How Did The Trust Come About?". Cambridge City FC Supporters Trust. Retrieved 10 June 2008.
- "High Court Success for City". Non-League Daily. 20 September 2007. Archived from the original on 25 March 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2008.
- Conn, David (3 October 2007). "The supporters who took on a property developer and won". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 10 June 2008.
- "Cambridge City fail in FA appeal". BBC Sport Online. 28 May 2008. Retrieved 29 May 2008.
- "Cambridge City FC – Groundshare announcement". Cambridgecityfc.com.
- "Club Statement". Cambridgecityfc.com. 19 April 2013.
- http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/Cambridge-City-plans-new-stadium-Sawston-given/story-28933761-detail/story.html[permanent dead link]
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 August 2016. Retrieved 24 May 2016.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- Conversation with section author B Milnes, May 2016
- Cambridge City Reserves at the Football Club History Database