Where Are They Now? Cambridge United’s Div 3 Champions 1990/91:
(neil Fissler, March 9 - 2016): RICHARD WILKINS believes that John Beck’s Cambridge United don’t get the credit their achievements deserved.
Beck led the club to back-to-back promotions. In 1990-91, the U’s lifted the Third Division title, edging out Southend United by a point.
A year earlier, after taking over from Chris Turner, he had taken them to Wembley for the first time in their history, guiding them to a Fourth Division play-off final win over Chesterfield.
Beck also took Cambridge to the sixth round of the FA Cup for the only two times in their history, in successive seasons when they were beaten by Crystal Palace and Arsenal respectively.
Beck’s first spell in charge at the Abbey Stadium is often overshadowed by antics that made Wimbledon’s Grazy Gang look tame – and Wilkins says what the team achieved is forgotten.
“We didn’t get the credit that we deserved,” he said. “We were direct, similar to the likes of Wimbledon and Stoke.
“John Beck was one of the first managers to pump the ball behind the full-backs.
“We were also one of the first teams to play a 4-2-4 and some people didn’t like the fact that we sometimes went direct.
“I can remember a few teams moaning, especially Charlton and West Ham, after we beat them.
“But it wasn’t just long ball football. We had quality players and some of them went on to better things.
“However, sometimes you get labelled and if you are seen as a long-ball team, you don’t get the credit that you should.”
Wilkins insists that during his time at the club he didn’t see many of the things that were often talked about in the media.
“Some players used to get cold showers, but just to gee them up a bit,” he said.
“People used to accuse us of giving the opposition crappy balls to warm up with but we never saw that side of things.
“I never knew of any so-called antics or dirty tricks that were going on. It is only when you read people’s books that you say to yourself ‘I don’t remember any of that’.
It may well be that people like to make a little bit more of it than what it really was and get a story out of it.
Apart from the cold showers, I don’t remember anything else.”
1) Graham Scarff: The former youth coach is now living in the King’s Lynn area.
2) Danny O’Shea: A midfielder who was assistant manager of the U’s and coach at Northampton. Ran a wine bar and then a pub before emigrating to Australia where he runs soccer schools.
3) Gary Woolf: A left-back, he now lives in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, where he runs his own company, Gazza Driving Services.
4) Liam Daish: A Republic of Ireland central defender, he has managed Havant &Waterlooville, Welling United, Ebbsfleet United and then Nuneaton Town until April 2015.
5) Dion Dublin: A striker who won England caps, he has worked in the media and in 2015 joined popular tv show ‘Homes Under the Hammer’ as a presenter. Has also invented a musical instrument, The Dube.
6) Phil Chapple: A defender who went into coaching and scouting working for Peterborough, West Ham United and Charlton Athletic. Currently senior scout at Fulham.
7) Paul Bastock: The goalkeeper and Non-League stalwart made his 1,000th league appearance in February 2015. The 45-year-old is still playing for Dunstable Town and runs his own goalkeeping school.
8) John Vaughan: A goalkeeper who went into coaching with York, Macclesfield, Grimsby, Huddersfield Town, Birmingham City and now Barnsley.
9) Steve Lewis: The goalkeeper is living in his native Norfolk. Is a partner in the family interiors company, specialising in coving and ceilings.
10) John Taylor: A striker who was U’s boss between 2001 and 2003. Lives in North Suffolk and works as a warehouse manager.
11) Steve Welsh: The defender and former soldier went on to be Lincoln’s community officer, manage Boston United, where he was also head of youth, and is now working for Non-League llkeston FC.
12) Colin Bailie: A full-back who moved to Cumbria where he joined the police and is a member of the Penrith rural policing team.
13) Michael Cheetham: A midfielder, he worked for an Ipswich-based firm as a distribution manager but is now earning a living as a courier.
14) Roy Johnson: He has served various clubs as physio, including Arsenal, and was working for Histon until retiring in 2010.
15) Neville Proctor: A former accountant who served the club as chief scout and is now retired living in Suffolk.
16) Laurie Ryan: The forward has been a sales manager for First Copy Corporation for the last 22 years after working for Barleycorn Copiers and Howlett Office Equipment.
17) Steve Claridge: The striker has managed Portsmouth, Weymouth, Millwall and, currently, Salisbury. He also works in the media and has his own football foundation.
18) Shaun Harrington: A midfielder who has settled in the Cambridge area. Works for Cambridge City Council running their ManagEnergy scheme.
19) Gary Clayton: The England semi-professional international midfielder now lives in his native Sheffield where he has returned to his trade of plasterer.
20) James Kearns: The full- back has for the last 21 years been the operations director of St Neots Packaging in Cambridgeshire
21) Lee Philpott: The winger is now based in Yorkshire where he runs a successful football management company, LPM Football Agents.
22) John Beck: After two spells managing Cambridge as well as Preston, Lincoln City, Histon and Kettering, he is now working for the Football Association.
23) Gary Johnson: The assistant manager became U’s manager and is currenlty in charge of Cheltenham Town. His son, Lee, manages one of his former clubs, Bristol City.
24) Tony Dennis: The midfielder was last known to be living and working in the Derbyshire area.
25) Chris Leadbitter: A midfielder, he has now returned to his native North East where he works in an industrial chemical plant on Teesside.
26) Alan Kimble: A defender who has managed Non-League sides Aveley and Maldon & Tiptree. For the last 20 years has been an engineer at Ford’s Dunton car seat plant.
27) Andy Fensome: A right- back who has been assistant manager at Hereford United. Is now a youth team coach at Preston and is the managing director of a graphics and signage company.
28) Richard Wilkins: A defender who has managed Bury Town and now Leiston, and is the head of football at West Suffolk College.
29) Mike Cook: A midfielder who ran Cambridge’s community scheme. Then went into coaching and is now the PFA regional coach educator in the South West.