Cambridge United playing at the Abbey last monthIzzy Poles with permission for Varsity

Town vs gown: a tension which students all across Cambridge will be familiar with. We know which club nights are ours and which are allotted to the locals, and we even have our own college bars which keep us insulated in the student bubble. This way of thinking, though, might see students deprive themselves of things that are right on their doorsteps. Worried we were missing out, Sam and I decided to take the plunge and head to Abbey Stadium to watch a Cambridge United football match.

We attended the FA Cup Second Round game between the “U’s” and Fleetwood Town, a 3pm kickoff which felt like it was being played in Antarctica. Despite the cold, there was no hot water before the game, depriving me of my hot chocolate, and Sam of his Bovril. On a day that was chillier than Augusto Pinochet eating peppers, this was an inhumane state of affairs.

Fleetwood, on the other hand, were in hot water from early on. Cambridge bagged three goals in 13 minutes, absolutely battering Fleetwood’s “Cod Army”. When a penalty was awarded to Cambridge in the 28th minute, some of the travelling support already began to leave – probably off to King’s Parade, seeing as you might as well make a day of it.

While the six remaining Fleetwood Town fans huddled for warmth, teeth chattering, Cambridge fans had been doing some chattering of their own. Whispers of “pinch me” were heard after the first goal, “we’re going to Wembley” after the second, and “Oli, for the love of God put your shirt back on” after the third.

Our mate Oli’s bare chest aside, Cambridge United have been going through a rough patch lately – winning just two of their past 13 matches in all competitions. This included a 5-0 thumping to their biggest rivals, Peterborough United, AKA “The Posh”. Given the pitiful state of this recent run, the palpable shock that reverberated around the ground when Cambridge’s Danny Andrew scored a classy free-kick was understandable, even endearing.

Then after 45 minutes of exciting football, the ref blew his whistle. You know what that means – that’s right, it’s time for the food review!

Immediately we were unimpressed by the selection of spartan pies on offer and were forced to settle for some chilli-loaded fries. The chips themselves were about as tasteless as a Frankie Boyle stand-up routine, but fortunately the jalapeño provided a much-needed kick of heat. I finally got my hot chocolate, and Sam got his Bovril. My hands were warmed, my spirits were lifted, and as for Sam, he’s never known a situation that a polystyrene cup of beef tea couldn’t fix. The two of us headed back to the terrace, and all seemed right with the world.

That would have been a lovely end to the story, but unfortunately, there’s more. There were 45 minutes yet to stand in the cold and wait for the final whistle. But the result was a foregone conclusion. By the second half, Fleetwood Town had hardly any life left in them, Cambridge took their foot off the gas, and the remainder of the match proceeded at a particularly lethargic snail’s pace.


Mountain View

Cambridge’s 2-0 win gives Warwick the blues

Cambridge fans, lost in dreams of radiators and double-glazed windows, hardly noticed when their team bagged the fourth and final goal of the game. When they gradually realised what had happened, they were roused from their frozen stupor and decided it was time for a song. Not about how good their team was, mind you – instead, they mustered the hatred to sing for the umpteenth time about how much they despised Peterborough United. At last, the final whistle brought proceedings to a close at 4-0 to Cambridge, and we shuffled, frostbitten, home.

Well, there you have it, an afternoon with Cambridge United Football Club. If you’re thinking about bridging the town–gown divide for yourself, it turns out that you’ve nothing to worry about after all – when they say they hate “The Posh”, they don’t mean you. So don’t let the self-imposed student bubble stop you from eating some naff chips, risking hypothermia, and above all watching some proper football down at Abbey Stadium.