Where are the Cambridge United 2014 promotion winning side now?

Author: | Posted in UK No comments

One of Cambridge United’s most memorable moments of recent history saw the U’s reclaim their Football League status.

Richard Money’s side ended a nine-year hiatus by beating Gateshead 2-1 in the 2014 Conference Premier play-off final.

Watched by a crowd of almost 20,000, many of whom were biting their nails as Gateshead pushed for a later equaliser, this side ultimately provided the platform for the current one that are achieving great things in League One.

Read more: Toys R Us: The store that transformed us all back into children

But what became of the side that engraved themselves into Cambridge history?

We’ve taken a look at how the careers of all 14 players that took to the Wembley turf that day have panned out.

Goalkeeper: Adam Smith – Stevenage



Former Cambridge United loanee Adam Smith celebrates at final whistle of 2014 Conference Premier play-off final
Former Cambridge United loanee Adam Smith celebrates at the final whistle

Ah, Adam Smith – the heroic emergency goalkeeper.

Smith’s Cambridge story was a remarkable one. On 25 April 2014, Smith joined United on an emergency loan from Leicester City, following injuries to all of the club’s senior goalkeepers, including Will Norris.

Smith made his debut the next day, in a 2–0 defeat to Gateshead on the final day of the league season.

He then starred as Cambridge defeated Halifax Town 2–1 over two legs before helping his side achieve promotion in the final.

That would be Smith’s fourth and final appearance for the U’s with the now-28-year old going on to play for Northampton Town, Bristol Rovers and Forest Green Rovers before moving to his current club Stevenage this summer.

Defender: Kevin Roberts – Chester



Cambridge United defender Kevin Roberts with trophy
Kevin Roberts lifting the trophy high and proud

Cambridge’s right-back at the time was Kevin Roberts who made over 100 appearances for Cambridge between 2010 and 2014.

Following a barren first 18 months at the club, Roberts scored his first goal for Cambridge in the club’s 3–0 home victory against Southport, going on to add another two goals in his next three appearances.



Signing up to the CambridgeshireLive newsletter means you’ll receive our daily news email.

It couldn’t be simpler and it takes seconds – simply click here, enter your email address and follow the instructions.

You can also enter your address at the top of this page in the box below the picture on most desktop and mobile platforms.

Changed your mind? There’s an ‘unsubscribe’ button at the bottom of every newsletter we send out.

However, despite impressing in his non-league outings, he never got the opportunity to play for the club in the Football League having been released.

He stayed in the Conference with FC Halifax Town before later moving to Wrexham and then Chester which completed a nice symmetry as he began his career with Chester City.

Defender: Ian Miller – Walsham-le-Willows



Ian Miller lifts the Conference Premier play-off trophy while being pushed in a wheelchair by Cambridge United team-mate Josh Coulson
Ian Miller lifts the trophy while being pushed in a wheelchair by United team-mate Josh Coulson

The captain for the day playing in the heart of the defence; one of the enduring images of the day was the sight of Ian Miller being pushed around on the Wembley turf in a wheelchair as the celebrations went on having been stretchered off with an Achilles injury towards the end of the match.

Ian Miller left the club at the end of the 2014–15 season and in 2015, signed a short-term deal with the National League side Braintree Town but only featured in one game before joining Needham Market.

In August 2017, Miller became a coach at the AFC Sudbury academy before returning to Bury Town as a player-coach the following summer.

Eastern Counties League Premier Division side Walsham-le-Willows F.C finally welcomed Miller in 2019 as the 37-year-old continues to play the beautiful game.

Defender: Josh Coulson – Southend United



Josh Coulson celebrates during the Skrill Conference Premier Play-Offs Final
Josh Coulson celebrates during the Skrill Conference Premier Play-Offs Final

Josh Coulson was the very definition of a fan’s favourite having been a committed stalwart during his eight prominent seasons with the U’s where he featured 269 times.

Having been born in Cambridge, Coulson was given the opportunity to play for his local club in 2007 but it would take until 2010 for him to full break into the side – scoring his first goal in a 3–1 home victory against Salisbury.

After achieving promotion, Coulson played his first match in the Football League, starting and scoring the game’s only goal against Plymouth Argyle. He was also given a testimonial in 2017.

On July 28 2017, Coulson signed for Leyton Orient initially on a six-month loan spell. In January, Coulson joined permanently after a decade at Cambridge.

124 appearances in four years followed for Orient, achieving another promotion to the Football League, before dropping back into the National League this summer after signing for struggling Southend United.

Defender: Greg Taylor – Cambridge United



Taylor celebrates after gaining promotion back to the Football League with Cambridge United
Good luck wiping that smile off Greg Taylor

Completing the defence on the left flank was a bona fide legend in Greg Taylor.

Having struggled to make a true impact at any one club during the early stages of his career, Taylor found his breakthrough at Cambridge after signing in 2013.

In just his first season at the Abbey, Taylor was an integral part of the U’s squad to do the double and was an ever-present at left-back.

In 2019, the now-31-year old was made club captain and guided his team to another promotion and remains a key part of the dressing room in League One – we now hope his recovery from the ankle injury sustained goes smoothly and he can get back on the pitch as soon as safely possible.

Midfielder: Tom Champion – Woking



Tom Champion celebrates Cambridge United victory
Tom Champion celebrating the glorious victory

The only player to be booked for the U’s in that final comes next.

Cambridge came in the middle of Tom Champion’s career that has seen the midfielder become a non-league regular.

Having joined from Dartford in the summer of 2013, Champion appeared in all league matches during the season and was a key component to their success.

However, his stay would only last one further season after signing for Barnet before a more fruitful spell at Boreham Wood saw four years and over 100 appearances being made.

The 35-year old then joined Woking this summer in a bid to help achieve another promotion from the National League.

Midfielder: Luke Berry – Luton Town



Luke Berry celebrates his fourth goal as Cambridge United beat Coventry City in the FA Cup
Luke Berry celebrates his fourth goal as Cambridge United beat Coventry City in the FA Cup

Perhaps the most successful player to come out of this squad was Luke Berry, who at the time of achieving promotion to the Football League was just 22-years old and had plenty of options ahead of him.

It would be Barnsley, who were newly relegated into League One, to make the first plunge with Berry signing on a three-year contract for an undisclosed fee.

This move didn’t work out as he would’ve hoped with it taking until April for him to score his first league goal with a stoppage time equaliser in a 1–1 draw at home to Peterborough. That was to Cambridge’s benefit though as he re-signed after a solitary year away on a four-year contract.

Notably, in his second stint, he scored four goals in their 4–0 win at home to Coventry City in the FA Cup second round before controversially signing for League Two rivals Luton Town in 2017 after handing in a transfer request.

The Hatters would achieve two promotions up to the Championship with Berry playing a key role for the side now safely in mid-table in the second tier; Berry himself has scored four times in just seven appearances this season.

Midfielder: Ryan Donaldson – Morpeth Town



Ryan Donaldson scoring free kick for Cambridge United against Gateshead
Who was behind this free-kick? One of the greatest set-pieces ever taken!

It could’ve all turned out very differently for Donaldson, but boy are we glad it didn’t after he scored the winner and put in a man-of-the-match performance in the play-off final.

After going through the Newcastle United academy, the winger made two solitary outings for the Magpies before making the short journey to Gateshead and eventually ending up at the Abbey in 2013, thus reuniting with his former Newcastle academy director Richard Money

There was something poetic about Donaldson being the man to score the vital goal against Gateshead given his history with the Tynesiders.

Donaldson left United at the end of the 2015–16 season for Plymouth Argyle where he was sidelined with a broken jaw for much of the campaign.

A much more successful time at Hartlepool United followed and incredibly Donaldson scored the winning goal (albeit this was in a penalty shootout) in a play-off final again as Hartlepool returned to the Football League at Torquay’s expense.

After turning down a deal to stay at the club, Donaldson signed for Morpeth Town of the Northern Premier League Premier Division and you wouldn’t bet against him scoring another play-off final winner.

Midfielder: Liam Hughes – Matlock Town



Liam Hughes, who helped Cambridge United win promotion to the Football League, has signed for Barrow
Liam Hughes scored the opener at Wembley

Born in Rotherham, Hughes joined Cambridge United’s youth setup in 2007, aged 15. Initially a defender, he was converted to a more attacking role during his time at the academy, and made his first-team debut in 2010, coming on as a late substitute in a 1–1 draw with Grimsby Town.

After helping his team achieve promotion by scoring the opener against Gateshead, he played his first match in the Football League in a 2–1 loss away to Portsmouth before his contract was cancelled by mutual consent in 2016.

Hughes signed for Inverness Caledonian Thistle of the Scottish Premiership two days later. Nine league appearances was all that could be managed before moving back to non league with Barrow.

Hughes has stayed in non league ever since after further moves to Guiseley, Billericay Town and Darlington. He joined the Derbyshire-based Matlock Town in 2020.

Forward: Tom Elliott – Salford City



Tom Elliott in action for Cambridge United against Gateshead
Tom Elliott in action at the home of English football

Elliott began his career at hometown club Leeds United, and manager Dennis Wise handed him his first-team debut at the age of 16 (having also played for the England Under-16 and Under-18 sides) before stints at Hamilton Academical and Stockport County preceded his Cambridge move.

Signed in 2012 by then-United manager, Jez George, three years with the U’s followed including scoring a hat-trick in a 4–2 win over Ebbsfleet United in his first season.

He actually struggled with injury in the promotion campaign and featured in only 14 Conference games, but did play the first 77 minutes of the play-off final.

After being released after the 2014/15 season, Elliot joined AFC Wimbledon, scoring his first league goal against former club Cambridge despite them going on to lose 2–1, and played in another play-off triumph in Wimbledon’s 2–0 win over Plymouth as the Dons were promoted to League One.

In the 2016/17 season, Elliot was named Wimbledon Player of the Season before moving to Championship side Millwall and later dropping back down to League Two with Salford City.

Forward: Delano Sam-Yorke – Merstham



Delano Sam-Yorke in action for Cambridge United against Gateshead
Delano Sam-Yorke in action in front of the passionate United support

Signed from Basingstoke in 2013, Sam-Yorke made a successful start to life at the Abbey Stadium, scoring twice on his debut on the opening day in a 5–1 win against FC Halifax Town.

Delano actually moved on loan to Conference Premier rivals Lincoln City in January before returning not long after to make himself a cult hero at the U’s.

He scored twice in the 2–0 second-leg win over Halifax that ensured they progressed to the final before starting in the final.

Despite this, he wasn’t able to make a significant Football League contribution and has since turned up at a variety of non league clubs, including Forest Green Rovers, Woking, Maidstone United and Dartford, with the 32-year old now playing for Isthmian League Premier Division side Merstham.

Midfielder: Harrison Dunk – Cambridge United



Cambridge United winger Harrison Dunk with banner
Winger Harrison Dunk with the iconic ‘We’re going up’ banner

We move on to the substitutes and with the score at 0-0, Money brought on Dunk at half-time for Sam-Yorke, and the now-31 year old hasn’t looked back.

The left-back began his career at Bromley, winning back-to-back Player of the Season awards, before joining Cambridge in 2011.

Dunk has gone from strength to strength since helping the U’s regain their Football League status and, going into his 11th season at the club, has made almost 400 appearances, won two promotions and is the club’s longest serving current player.

Such is Dunk’s popularity and importance, he was even given a testimonial in a friendly against QPR this summer for which he was given the captain’s armband, receiving a standing ovation as Mark Bonner substituted the defender late on.

Midfielder: Luke Chadwick – Retired (Cambridge United academy coach)



Former Cambridge United midfielder Luke Chadwick
Former United midfielder Luke Chadwick

Born in Cambridge, it took until the twilight stage of Chadwick’s career for him to turn up at his home club.

Prior to his spell at the Abbey, Chadwick had Premier League prowess, having come through the Manchester United youth system, making 25 league outings for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, including 16 in 2000/01 when United were crowned Premier league champions.

Chadwick also made 13 appearances for the England Under-21s.

The now-40-year old would slowly drop down the leagues, appearing for five different clubs in the Championship (including West Ham and Norwich), before six straight seasons with MK Dons in League One.

The midfielder joined Cambridge on a short loan in March 2014 and made his debut the same day in a 2–1 win against Welling United before eventually coming on for Luke Berry in the play-off final and signing permanently in the summer.

After a solitary season at Soham Town Rangers, Chadwick returned to United as a full-time coach in the club’s academy.

Forward: Adam Cunnington – Enfield Town



Adam Cunnington in action for Woking FC against Braintree Town
Adam Cunnington in action for Woking FC against Braintree Town

Our final member to make the Wembley pitch was Adam Cunnington who came on for Elliott with just over 10 minutes remaining.

Incredibly the 34-year old has played for 24 different clubs since making his debut for Barton Rovers of the Southern League Division One Midlands in 2006.

The striker was another to sign for the U’s for the 2013/14 season and made 24 league outings before the arrival of Jayden Stockley on loan from Bournemouth the following summer saw him drop down the pecking order and he was loaned out to Conference side Bristol Rovers.

After Rovers, Cunnington has turned out for teams ranging from Ebbsfleet United, Bromley and Billericay Town before joining Enfield Town last year.

What memories do you have of this incredible day?

Want more news direct to your inbox? Sign up to our daily newsletter here.

.