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It’s unlikely that anyone has loved Cambridge United more than Andrew Bennett.

It’s certain that no one did more to preserve the club’s history, or to communicate it more completely and entertainingly.

When Andrew succumbed to a vicious cancer in February 2018, he left behind a vast trove of United knowledge: statistics, reports, images, miscellaneous writings, cuttings, artefacts and goodness knows what else.

And it was typical of the man that among the treasure, ready for the editor’s attention, was the manuscript of the third volume in his Celery & Coconuts series of books on United history.

Even while his illness went about the worst of its destructive work, Andrew toiled to ensure that 100 Years of Coconuts would be able to perpetuate his memory by completing his labour of love.

His devotion to that labour was total. While other U’s fans were mulling over the latest result and the league table with a cup of tea, Andrew would be grafting late into the night, updating his stats on a dozen or more spreadsheets, compiling a brilliant match report and creating some of the most compelling similes and metaphors ever to emerge from a football writer’s imagination.

He was a stunningly gifted writer, a meticulous researcher, archivist and statistician, and it was a universally popular move when Cambridge United appointed him honorary club historian in the summer of 2017.

Most U’s fans knew and loved Andrew as the mould-breaking author of programme articles and inimitable reports that, for the best part of two decades, entertained and informed his audience in equal measure.

He was much more than that. Most importantly, Andrew was a good, generous, immensely likeable and unfailingly upbeat man who had a priceless talent for brightening any interaction between humans to which he was party.

The Coconuts committee could depend on him to enliven a dreary meeting with a droll aside, a cutting insight or a hilarious reminiscence plucked from a memory cache that never failed to amaze.

His love affair with our club began in 1970, when he watched from the Allotments End as the U’s beat Gloucester City 3-0. Thereafter he followed the U’s through thick and thin, racking up countless thousands of miles on away trips that took him to all four corners of England and beyond.

With the first stirrings of the internet and the birth of the Moosenet user group came the first opportunity for his writings to be enjoyed by a wide readership. Andrew’s match reports – witty, lyrical, incisive – became the stuff of legend.

In later years, when he was made redundant from the National Westminster Bank, he fell to thinking about how he could put his talents and his databanks to their best use. So, with innumerable tireless visits to the Cambridgeshire Collection and other archives, began the work that would culminate in the publication of Celery & Coconuts.

It is entirely fitting that the Andrew Bennett Award should be instigated with the inauguration into the Cambridge United Hall of Fame of its inspiration.

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