This article was brought to you by Stiles Magazine as part of The Away End. Stiles is an independent magazine and website on football, film and music, where the world's greatest game and culture meet. Through original writing and photography, they explore stories from both sides of the turnstile.

On the 20th September 1985, Cambridge United drew 1-1 with Exeter City at the Abbey Stadium in the 4th Division. On the 13th September 1986, Cambridge United drew 2-2 with Exeter City at the Abbey Stadium in the 4th Division.

One of those games was the first game I ever saw. The smart money is on 1986. I seem to remember Steve Spriggs scoring twice. But it might only have been once. So it might have been 1985. But let’s say it was 1986. I was 7 years old. My Dad took me. I would have been sat in the Main Stand. My career began there as a junior U until around 14 or 15, when I migrated to the North Terrace or the ‘Newmarket Road End’. A little in front of the ‘Ultras’, if you can call them that.

I suspect I’m not alone in the football itself not really being a huge part of my first memories of going to football. It was cold. Very cold. My attention span was even shorter than it is now, so I suspect by half time I’d had enough – perhaps that’s part of the reason I still don’t really like half time.

My main memories are two things I’d never really experienced before. The smell of cigarettes. And the swearing. I grew up in a smoke free and relatively non-potty mouthed household (nothing more agricultural than ‘bloody hell’ in my house). An afternoon at the football really opened my eyes to that.

But I can’t tell you what actually happened. My rose-tinted spectacles tell me it was a glorious time of players smoking and having a beer at half time. Fat players, tiny players, players who couldn’t kick it. Chances are they were all pretty good, but I won’t let that change my memories.

It probably took me a couple of seasons to really know what was going on. I knew I loved football – I played it all day, then I played football games on my Amstrad all evening and covered my bedroom with Shoot posters. I loved it no matter the team. But my love for the U’s was set in stone just before the meteoric rise of the early 90s.

I don’t go that much now because I’ve played Saturday football for the same team in London (Polytechnic FC) for the last 15 years. If I’m honest that’s the club that I care about the most now. Normally we’re in the bar at 4 on a Saturday afternoon after our game, and I’m the sole voice swearing at the telly when Jeff Stelling announces that Cambridge have conceded another.

I still lost my voice at Wembley when we beat Gateshead to get back into the league, and my Dad and I loved the 0-0 draw at home to Manchester United a couple of years ago. So far this season I’ve been to Exeter and Colchester, so I haven’t seen us score a goal yet, but I always have hope.

Always…