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CAMBRIDGE COUNTY CATS (also Cambridge Crunchers, Cambridge Wildcats)

CambridgeCountyCats.jpg (3981 bytes)

Based: Sawston Village College (also played at Cambridge City Football Ground, Cambridge & Ely Rugby Club in 1990)
Career Record: full record unknown
Colours: All black
Honours: Conference champions 1985

1990 NCMMA Midlands Conference 6-3-0
1989 CGL Crown National Division 7-3-0*
1988 Budweiser League Premier Division East Midlands Conference 8-2-0*
1987 Budweiser League National Division Eastern Conference 0-9-1
1986 Budweiser League Atlantic Premier Division 6-4-0*
1985 BAFF A1 Conference 8-0-0*

Cambridge County Cats 1985 team photo
Photo courtesy of C.Wallis

1986CambridgeKuciavOxford.jpg (51916 bytes)
QB Simon Kucia for Cambridge v Oxford Bulldogs, 1986

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Oxford Bulldogs v Cambridge County Cats, 1986

1990 Simon Kucia

Team Notes: American football in Cambridge dates back to August 1983 when two U.S. Air Force teams, the Alconbury Spartans and Zweibrücken Warriors, contested a charity match in the city. Sixteen months later, in December 1984, one of the first clubs to form in Britain, the RAF Wyton Eagles (a joint civilian/air- man team that had played just three games), held trials in Cambridge. With a squad of about 60, and full kit paid for by American head coach George Zentner, the Cambridge County Cats were born. The County Cats played in the BAFF League in 1985, to attendances of 600+ at Cambridge City FC. They won all 8 of their regular season games to win their conference, but lost in the play-off semi-final to the Croydon Coyotes. In 1986 Cambridge were elected into the top division of the newly formed Budweiser League, putting together a credible 6-4 record and reaching the play-offs. The club again played in the top flight in 1987. Unfortunately, despite some hard fought battles they failed to win a single game. A tie against the Swindon Steelers gave Cambridge a 0-9-1 record. Winning ways returned in 1988 after the County Cats dropped down a division. The team also moved outside the city to play in Ely. An 8-2 record meant travelling to the Glasgow Diamonds in the play-offs, but Cambridge lost 24-34. 1989 saw the club play in the Combined Gridiron League, and move back to Cambridge. They received their first major sponsorship, from the Seattle-based Washington State Apple Commission. The County Cats became known as the Cambridge Crunchers, and changed their colours from black to red. On the field, Cambridge was once again play-off bound, posting a 7-3 record. Bad news greeted the start of the 1990 season. The Crunchers became the Cambridge Wildcats when the sponsorship deal was ended suddenly, the American Company deciding to channel their interests elsewhere. And worse was to come. The team battled to 6-3-1 and qualified for the play-offs. But it was revealed that the club had not paid League fees and another team took their place. Following an appalling year for the Wildcats, player numbers were low for 1991. The same was true for the nearby Newmarket Hornets, and a merger looked set to follow. When it turned out to be a take-over attempt by Newmarket, Cambridge chose to fold rather than lose its identity. American football then lay dormant at senior level in the city until early 1993. Forty players, half coming from the 1990 Wildcats, formed the Cambridge Cats. Playing in the First Division of the BNGL, the clubs only wish was for a respectable year. They reached the play-off semi-finals on the back of an 8-1-1 record, scoring more than 40 points in six of those games. The season ended with a heartbreaking 27-31 loss to the Lincoln Saints. A new home, Histon Football Club, was established for 1994 and the season turned out to be one of the most successful in the clubs ten- year history. An 8-2 record in the BAFA Senior League Third Division gave the Cats their first conference title since 1985. Following two home play-off wins, the season culminated in a 25-14 victory over the Crawley Raiders in the final, as Cambridge gained its first ever league crown. The 1995 season was one of the toughest campaigns in the clubs history. Rick Hoskins took over from Nick Tuttle as Head Coach. Promotion to Division Two put the Cats in the Northern Conference. They finished with an 8-2 record and, after a semi-final victory over the Lancashire Wolverines, met the Plymouth Admirals in the final. Cambridge came back from 13-0 down to win 28-13 and take their second league title in as many seasons. 1996 was the year when the Cats bubble finally burst and they paid the price for their success. After guiding their club to the top level of British football since 1987, many top players decided to retire. To make matters worse, the head coach and several players walked out after only a couple of games. Cambridge's dismal season ended abruptly when they could not afford to play their final two home games, and they finished with a 2-8 record. Following that disastrous year, Cambridge were fortunate enough to remain in Division One for the 1997 season, where they were placed in a more regional South East/Midlands Conference. The Cats 4-6 record included an historic first ever victory over Northants Storm (who folded after that!) after six straight losses dating back to 1984. The club folded on the 14th March 1999.

Game notes

10th June 1990 - Simon Kucia passed for 414 yards vs Stoke Spitfires

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