Day 57: VIP Matchday Experience

In 31 years supporting the mighty Cambridge United, I’ve travelled to games on foot, by bike, car, train and coach. Never did I expect to be chauffeur-driven to the Abbey Stadium!

This summer, A2B Taxicabs – based in Ely – partnered with the club, sponsoring the largest hospitality suite and providing VIP matchdays with door-to-door travel. Wanting to offer some extra joy to fans who were returning to live matches, A2B are running competitions throughout the season. I entered the first and was fortunate enough to win.

The prize was four VIP tickets to the U’s match against Bolton Wanderers on 28th August 2021. The package included a chauffeur-driven ride from our house to the stadium, a table in The Signature Events Suite for the day, a bottle of bubbly, pre-match food, programmes, executive seats, half-time drinks, player appearances, and return travel to our door. I don’t enter many competitions – what a cracker to win!

If it sounds appealing to you too, the A2B Hospitality Packages are available for every U’s home match. With us in the Suite were groups of friends, families with children, and couples. It’s suitable for everybody.

We have season tickets for me, my husband, two boys and my mum, and it was important that we could all enjoy this together. Fortunately, we were able to buy an additional hospitality ticket from the club.

The drive

Our morning began early with our son’s football match, which was 40 minutes away from home. Bit of a rush to get back and ready for our midday pickup, but we made it. James was our driver. He couldn’t have been more welcoming, calmly accepting the boys diving headfirst through the door to grab the back seats. He drove a black Mercedes V-Class with Senzati Jet Class interior: panoramic roof, drinks fridge and soundproofing are among the luxury details. As you can see, both boys enjoyed the comfy ride!

The suite

The Signature Events Suite opens at 12pm on a matchday and we got there about half-past. At 1pm, we were invited to have our lunch of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding with veg. It was delicious. United are using different caterers this season, and our experience and the feedback they’ve received confirms that it was a positive decision.

Getting to the ground early has its benefits, the matchday host Tom Lee told us. He took us pitchside as the players started to arrive. We sat in the dugout and waxed lyrical about our shared U’s memories, including *that game* at Leicester in 1992.

Back in the Suite, there were two giveaways to enter: to have a chance of winning a signed shirt we just had to scan our lanyards, while a signed football was on offer if we correctly chose the minute of the first goal.

The Club Legend for the day was Rodney Slack, United’s goalkeeper for 8 years in the 1960s, making 353 appearances for the club. Ollie is a goalie too, so it was a special moment when the two of them met before the match. Rodney gave Ollie his autograph and some advice, which I hope he will heed! The smile says it all.

Marvin the Moose, another U’s legend, popped in pre-match too, ruffled Mum’s hair much to Ben’s amusement and posed for photos with fans young & not so young. Before we knew it, it was match time.

The match

Executive seats at United are a treat (for the bottom, mostly!) when you’re used to sitting on a backless bench in the family stand… Situated just above the home dugout in the middle of the Main Stand, you enjoy a great view.

Most fans expected a tough match against Bolton; they were unbeaten at the time. It certainly wasn’t an easy afternoon for the U’s. Shilow Tracey scored on 15 and it proved to be the only goal of the game. United had to defend their small lead with everything they had. This team plays for each other and their spirit got them over the line again.

Post match

The Man of the Match presentations take place in The Signature Events Suite, and it was little surprise that goalscorer Shilow Tracey won that honour this time. Tom interviewed him, and afterwards Shilow presented the signed shirt and ball to the two lucky winners.

One of our group chose minute 14 for the first goal, and big Joe Ironside did “score” then, but it was ruled offside. Just as well we didn’t win another prize – that would have been awkward!

The next hour or so was a chance to catch up with some U’s friends I hadn’t seen since the first lockdown. In the meantime, Ollie & Ben had the time of their lives autograph-hunting and selfie-taking. Here’s Ollie’s gallery:

When our super day came to an end, James was there to take us back home. We had such a fun time, seeing the club we love from a different perspective to a regular matchday.

We weren’t even home before Ollie asked if we could do it all again for his birthday. The answer? Of course, it was a resounding “Yes!”

With thanks

We have a few people to thank: Jamie Edmunds, Director at A2B Taxicabs; James, our driver; Wendy Glancy, the club’s Hospitality Manager; Tom Lee, our Matchday Host; the players & Mark Bonner for patiently posing for photos. They all contributed to a special day and the memories that will stay with us all, particularly our boys. Thank you also to Simon Lankester, Official Club Photographer, and Tom Stewart, Director of Front Foot Creative, for providing me with some professional images to cover my lack of quality photos from the day! Credit is given where applicable.

Disclosure: Other than an additional ticket for Mum and post-match drinks, everything was provided by A2B. I was not asked to write a review, but I was so impressed by the A2B service and the hospitality at the club, I felt that our experience deserved to be recognised properly.

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