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© Chris Byrne 2010

1912-1913: On The Amateur Cup Trail Again

What was to prove to be an exciting season for the Club began quietly with a 0-0 Isthmian home draw with Ilford. There was “…the usual victory” over the County side, but then three successive league defeats, against Clapton, Ilford and Dulwich Hamlet left them poorly prepared for the first FA Cup match of the season, a Fourth Qualifying Round visit to Croydon Common. The Southern League side, who played at The Nest, later to become Crystal Palace’s ground before the building of Selhurst Park, again showed the strength of this league with a comfortable victory over City who had very little of the match. The victors continued in the competition before losing out in a replay at Woolwich Arsenal.
Fred Ansell’ s ability was finally recognised as he was reserve for the Amateur International between England and Belgium at Swindon, and finally won his first full cap later in the season against Wales. So, in several games during the season, City were able to field three internationals in their line-up: Ansell, Berry and Hunt.
The FA Cup tie seemed to mark a bit of a turning point in the season as it was followed up with a rare win over Clapton as well as a comfortable win over Maidenhead Norfolkians in the Hospital Cup. And, perhaps in line with the changing fortunes, an exciting draw with London Caledonians, the regular Boxing Day visitors, which actually took place at the White House – the first time this had been managed for three seasons, such was the tendency of the ground to flood in the winter.
As was now the norm, the arrival of the New Year saw heralded City’s entrance into the Amateur Cup. City were again drawn against Sneinton in the First Round, this time at home. The White House had now reverted to its usual January state i.e. flooded, but City were able to secure the use of the University’s Iffley Road Ground. and a crowd of around 1,200 witnessed the match.
In the opening passages the City defence looked decidedly rocky, and the Nottinghamshire side sneaked a goal. This roused City, with Buckingham smartly equalising, then they went ahead with an Ansell free kick. Draper nearly made it 3-1, but was ruled offside. Jakeman however did score just before the interval.
Half time intervened to postpone further discomfort for the visitors, but there was only one team in it afterwards, as City rampaged through the tattered Sneinton defence time after time. Seymour notched two in succession, then Jakeman scored his second and City’s sixth goal. The seventh was apparently the pick of the bunch, according to the press report. Draper hit the post from way out on the wing. Smith forced a corner, took it and centred to Hunt, fully 40 yards out, who unleashed a mighty volley which went in just under the crossbar. This brought the score to 7-1, but City were not quite finished, despite the failing light. Buckingham scored his second goal of the game to complete the 8-1 hammering and enable City to progress to the Second Round.

RE Poster

Another home draw brought up the Royal Engineers, who also had to come to Iffley Road, the White House Ground still being out of action.
A bumper crowd of 3,000 attended this time, and the City side was unchanged for once. There were no early shocks this time, and two goals from Buckingham, and one apiece from Hunt, Seymour and Jakeman saw them through to a comfortable victory. So, after a relatively lean period over the previous few years, City were beginning to show some consistency in the Amateur Cup, due in no small part to the ability to field a settled side.

Next up were the 1st King’s Royal Rifles and 2,000 supporters witnessed City take control of the game in the first half, although the sole product was a goal scored by Buckingham. After the interval, the same player took advantage of a defensive lapse to make it 2-0 to City. A cross by Berry which was headed in by Jakeman brought the score to 3-0. At this point the visitors rallied to the extent of scoring one in reply, but Berry then went on a solo run after a good pass by Hunt, and scored from a narrow angle to increase the margin to 4-1. The Rifles, although out-gunned on the day, never surrendered even though they were never in real contention. Oxford City were through, and deservedly so, to another Quarter-Final, increasing in confidence with each successful tie.
Lady Luck was still with them at the 4th Round draw as City were drawn at home to another military outfit, the 2nd Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters. Based in Devonport, they had disposed of Barking in the 3rd Round, so promised to be no pushover.
3,250 spectators thronged the White House Ground, and the City team for this vital tie was unchanged. Buckingham showed immediately that he was on good form, firing in his first after just a few minutes. The Foresters were able to equalise after a mistake by Ansell, and then Berry suffered a severe knee injury, leaving him quite lame: the match was only 20 minutes old, so the prospects were at the least uncertain. To City’s credit, they did not lose heart, but pressed on further, and Buckingham and Smith each scored to make it 3-1 before half time.
Berry was determined to play out the second half, but had to wait a little while for a special knee bandage to arrive. Draper came close on more than one occasion, but City were unable to add to their tally. Berry’s knee gave way under him and he was finally forced to go off. The final whistle sounded, and City were in the Semi-Finals again after seven years. Hunt was the local newspapers’ ‘Man of the Match’, and his team mates were more than happy to subscribe to a wedding present for him!
The team’s reward was to be drawn to play at Reading against Clapton, old sparring partners by now, and a team against which City had generally had little success. Clapton had performed as impressively as City in the earlier rounds, dismissing the 2nd Durham Light Infantry 6-2, Grays Athletic 3-0, Barnet & Alston 3-0 and Nunhead 4-1.

KRR Ticket
Amateur Cup telegram

Two excursion trains were put on from Oxford, and about 2,000 fans made the short trip down to Elm Park. The blue and white colours of the City were much in evidence, and the painted umbrella made another historic appearance, as did the cardboard ox bedecked with appropriately coloured ribbons.
One blow for City was that Berry’s knee injury was too severe to allow him to play. Mackinnon from the University was his deputy. Otherwise the team was again unchanged, although Alf Jakeman played instead of brother Bill at inside left. The official attendance was given as 3,670, most of whom would be shouting for City: this was almost as good as a home match.
The tie was more or less settled within the first 15 minutes. Buckingham and Radnage both scored, to put City 2-0 up and within sight of another Final. Clapton had no answer to City’s domination on the field, and were totally unable to pierce their solid defence at any point in the match. The game finished at 2-0, and Oxford City were deservedly through to their third Amateur Cup Final in ten years.

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