Home of the best university in the country (much better than that other place,) this weekends opponents are Oxford.
Who the hell are Oxford United?
Formed by a vicar as Headington United in 1893 to give the cricket team something to do in the winter, Oxford are currently 17th in League One after losing 4 and drawing 1 of their last 5 games. A good time to play them then.
What’s their history?
While they were formed in the late 19th century they’re relatively late to the professional football world, changing their name to Oxford United in 1960 and joining the league in 1962 making them one of our few opponents who joined the league after we did. They bumbled around the lower divisions for 20 years before the money ran out in the early 80s. As so many clubs have been before and since, they were rescued by a businessman that funded success on the pitch meaning many fans were happy to overlook some of his less salubrious practices elsewhere, in their case Robert Maxwell. After an ill thought out attempt to merge the club with Reading to create the Thames Valley Royals, he bank rolled Oxford through successive promotions to the top flight under the management of Jim Smith.
The following season under new manager Maurice Evans they not only stayed up, beating Arsenal on the final day to finish 18th, but won the Milk Cup, beating QPR 3-0 at Wembley. Obviously this was back in the day when teams gave a toss about the League Cup but due to the ban on English clubs in Europe they were unable to take their place in the following seasons UEFA Cup. This is probably just as well as they struggled throughout the following season but just about stayed up. Over the summer Maxwell left the club to go to Derby, appointing his son to replace him. Bottom of the table in March the following season they sacked Evans and appointed Mark Lawrenson to replace him. Despite Lawros’ keen interest in involving younger players his reign was a complete disaster, winning only 4 of his 25 games in charge. Surely after that debacle nobody else would be daft enough to employ him would they?
Over the following seasons the money dried up completely and after being bought and sold several times Oxford fell through the divisions and dropped out of the league altogether in 2006, becoming the first winners of a major cup to do so. Returning to the league in 2010 and to League One in 2016 they failed to build on an 11th place finish last time around and manager Pep Clotet (no, me neither,) was sacked in January. Oddly they’ve still not replaced him.
Apart from the Milk/League Cup in the 80’s the nearest they’ve come is being beaten finalists in the Premiership Reserves Trophy 2 years on the bounce. How the mighty have fallen.
What’s the ground like?
Soulless and cheap. After another classic wheeze of allowing the club owner to own the ground separately from the club has resulted in the Kassam Stadium, he couldn’t even be arsed to build a 4th stand. They also have a bronze statue outside the ground but where ours is for a club legend theirs is a bull. In the middle of a car park. Classy.
Anywhere decent to drink?
Not really, being one of the modern wave of out of town stadiums there are no pubs anywhere near it, there is a bowling alley nearby though. Think Sixfields only in yellow and blue.
Player to watch
Wes Thomas is the top scorer with 9 goals, while Ryan Ledson is trying to rekindle a once promising young career in midfield. Blink-and-you-missed-him former Posh loanee Jonathan Obika has netted 5 times for them too.
What’s their nickname?
The U’s. What is it with crap teams from university towns and that nickname?
Do they have a forum?
Yes. Yellows Forum seems the most active, take your shades though as it is VERY yellow.
Got a prediction?
On the one hand you have a Posh side on a high after 3 wins and a new manager in place who seems to have mastered the tricky art of picking 11 players in their natural positions. On the other you have a team in freefall who’ve been without a manager for nearly 2 months. This is exactly the sort of game McCann would have lost, I hope and believe Evans won’t. I’ll go for 3-1 (Marriott, Lloyd, Maddison,) as despite our improvement we’ll still have less clean sheets than a teenager whose discovered Pornhub.