It sometimes seemed to supporters watching United in the 70s and 80s that there were eleven Steve Spriggses out there.

One minute halting an opposition attack with a ferocious tackle, the next dissecting a defence with a delicious pass or smashing a thirty-yarder past a startled keeper, the man was capable of popping up anywhere.

And he did it year after year after year. As a United player between 1975 and 1987, Steve Spriggs came as near as dammit to the magic 500-game mark, chalking up 491 starts and six sub appearances. He also contributed a highly commendable 65 goals.

Ron Atkinson got it spot on when he said of Steve: ‘No matter what Cambridge do in the future, no matter who they attract to their smashing club, they will never make a better signing.’

It was Ron who signed the diminutive Yorkshireman from Huddersfield, and it was immediately apparent that he had got his hands on a gem. He missed just one League game in his first season and was voted player of the year by appreciative supporters.

As the years went by and United rose to the old Second Division, Steve was always there, running marathon distances, taking on the captaincy and leading by example. Ron’s successor, John Docherty, explained that he wanted three qualities in a skipper – loyalty, honesty and ability. ‘Few have all three,’ he added, ‘but Spriggs has, and it’s a joy to have him around the place.’

The Doc never spoke a truer word.

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