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Cambridge United hit the lottery with deal for new tractor for Abbey Stadium pitch

A deal for a tractor will help tend to the hallowed turf at the Abbey. Picture: Keith Heppell
A deal for a tractor will help tend to the hallowed turf at the Abbey. Picture: Keith Heppell

Cambridge United fans have played their part in keeping the Abbey Stadium pitch in trim after providing the largest donation in the history of the CUFC Lottery.

A donation of £10,000 by the lottery, which is run and administered by volunteer fans of the U’s as a sub group of Cambridge Fans United, has helped in the purchase of a tractor. The club had an Iseki tractor and aerator on lease from Ernest Doe for the past four years, but the lease came to an end on March 30.

The plan was to replace the equipment with a new tractor and aerator, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the finance company stopped the pre-arranged deal from taking place.

“This was totally out of our control at the football club
and nobody could have foreseen this coming when the lease arrangements were put in place,” said U’s stadium manager Ian Darler.

The groundsman then approached the CUFC Lottery organisers to see if there was any possibility of a contribution towards the cost of buying the tractor previously on finance back from Ernest Doe.

A deal was negotiated, and the the tractor was back at the stadium.

Brian Thorby runs the CUFC Lottery with Dave Matthew-Jones and Nigel Browne. It has run since 2012 and currently has 170 members.

“Anything we pay out is either for things that are required up the club or local charities, and we try to keep it as local as possible,” said Thorby.

“It was just a matter that he asked us if we would like to give a contribution towards it, and it progressed from there. We had 72 hours to try to sort something out, as these little tractors are sought after and they had got another buyer lined up.

“In the end, when it came in at £10,000, it was something we could afford to do and we all felt it was vital because they wouldn’t be able to do a whole load of things.”

Darler said: “I feel that I have to pay special thanks to everyone who contributes towards the Cambridge United Lottery who have simply saved the day with the generous donation that enabled the football club to purchase a tractor. This will enable Mick Brown and myself to continue to work on the playing surface and also other areas within the stadium.

“I have to thank Dave Matthew-Jones, Brian Thorby and Nigel Browne for all their help they have given the football club and myself during these challenging times, and of course all the people who contribute towards the lottery every week, without your support this would never have been possible.”

The CUFC Lottery has also helped fund 10 new hand dryers at the Abbey in the past year, and provided £250 for a reading project at Galfrid School and bought £300 of Tescos vouchers for local individuals and families at Christmas.

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