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© Chris Byrne 2010

1913-1914: The End Of An Era?

The final season before The Great War started on a low note with a home defeat by Leytonstone, but then it was straight into the season’s FA Cup matches with City now back to starting in the Preliminary Round in September, for the first time since 1895, and needing two attempts to get past Shepherd’s Bush after drawing in West London. The replay was staged in the now customary atrocious conditions at the White House Ground and the covered stand was full, while, as the Oxford Chronicle put it, “…elsewhere was rain, mud and umbrellas”. City took full advantage of home territory and scored once in the first half, then after the break added another three.
In the First Qualifying Round City were drawn at home to Wycombe Wanderers, who were now playing in the Great Western Combination, and only 800 spectators attended on yet another wet match day. The home team weathered some early Wycombe pressure, and Buckingham opened City’s account with the only goal of the first half. They ran rings round their opponents in the second half, however, as Jakeman scored with a long range effort, Smith made it 3-0, then Millin cracked one in from all of 40 yards. Foss, again from distance, notched the fifth. This was the first time since 1901/02 that City had won two FA Cup ties in succession.


The next round saw them second out of the hat against unknown quantity West London Old Boys (who shared the Loftus Road ground of Shepherd’s Bush). The attraction of a bigger gate saw the London side give up home advantage, and the locals now sensed the possibility of a cup run, with over 2000 turning up. City took the lead after 30 minutes through Buckingham, who was in a rich vein of goal-scoring form at this point. He bagged a second goal just after half time and W.E. Foss added two more for a comfortable 4-0 victory.
And so to the Third Qualifying Round, which was to be the fourth in succession at home. The opponents were Southall, who nine years earlier had trounced City 6-1 in a Fourth Qualifying Round second replay. 2,000 fans turned up with expectations of a different story this time!
The City defence was unchanged, and the forward line was: Frank Draper, Elmer Cotton, Guy Buckingham, Alf Jakeman and H.G. Smith. City started two short because of delays on the railways, but this did not affect the run of play too much, Buckingham opening the scoring after 10 minutes of Southall pressure. He doubled his tally just before half time, and with Jakeman slotting a third off the underside of the crossbar this was sufficient to take City into the Fourth Qualifying Round yet again – but this time having done it the hard way!
The draw was cruel to City: an away tie to Chatham of the Kent League, somewhat of an unknown quantity, but whose team included Bevan, who had scored two for Bury against City in 1907. Chatham had appeared in the Quarter Finals back in 1889, so had a tradition to recapture.
The City side was unchanged apart from the substitution of W.J. Seymour at centre-half. Unfortunately the tone of the game was set by a two-goal salvo from Chatham in the early stages. City found it difficult to break down the Kentish defence, and Bevan notched two in the second half to sink City’s Cup hopes for another year. Chatham defeated Stamford in the next round taking them into the First Round Proper where they faced a daunting trek to the North-East and went down 0-9 at Sunderland.
The Christmas holiday produced two wins for large festive crowds. There was a 5-1 victory against Sneinton on Boxing Day; and a (rare) 4-2 Isthmian win over Clapton the next day - only City's sixth league match of the season.
The New Year saw the start of another Amateur Cup campaign, and City were drawn at home to Netherfield Rangers, a Nottinghamshire team. The muddy ground threatened to make it a difficult encounter for both sides, and Netherfield started strongly applying early pressure on City’s goal, but Millin put the home side 1-0 up after 20 minutes, before goals from Jakeman and Buckingham put the tie virtually beyond reach before half time. After the restart Netherfield again pressed forward and did finally reduce the arrears.
Sandwiched between this match and the Second Round of the Cup – where City found themselves drawn away to Bournemouth (Branksome?) Gasworks Athletic – was a morale-enhancing 7-1 Isthmian victory over Woking with the prolific Guy Buckingham finding the net five times.
There was a very good crowd of about 3,000 at Bournemouth for City’s visit, and the team showed only one change from the Netherfield tie, with WE Foss coming in on the left-wing in place of Bert Millin. City’s goal, taking a roundabout route to the net via the crossbar and upright, was scored on 30 minutes by Alf Jakeman. Afterwards they had to endure heavy pressure from the home side, but were still good value for the 1-0 victory, and the Third Round draw sent City to the North-East again to face old foes Stockton in February.
On the day the City were losing an Isthmian game at Shepherd’s Bush at the end of January, football fans who had remained in Oxford were enjoying an interesting match at the White House where the South faced the North in an Amateur International Trial. With two goals from Kirby and another from Mascall, the North finally triumphed 3-2, Edmonds and Lockton scoring for the South.
The North: T Crabtree* (Blackburn Rovers); D Dunglinson (Newcastle United), HR Gaskell (Manchester South End); S Rudd (South Notts), BH Baker* (Marlborough O.B., Liverpool), HW Dick (Hull OB); B Mascall* (Stockton), HD Davies* (Northern Nomads), F Kirby* (Middlesbrough), C Moore (Sunderland) and T Pointon (Birmingham).
The South: H Harley (Oxford City); D Higgins (QPR), EF Grimsdell* (St Albans City); GA Popple (Dulwich Hamlet), Rifleman Robinson* (1st KRR), WH Swayne (Tufnell Park); FJ Draper (Oxford City), J Chapman (Brentford), G Edmonds (Watford), JH Lockton (Ilford), CH Conn (Ilford)
[* = internationals]
On St Valentine’s Day 1914 City once more trod the turf at Stockton. This time the weather at least was more amenable, although the same could not be said for the result. The City defence was the same as for the two previous ties, but the forward line showed some alteration: Draper and Buckingham still held the right flank, and Elmer Cotton, WE Foss and Arthur Kerry took the other three positions. Cotton and Kerry, previously playing for the AFA side, were now able to turn out for City, as there had finally been an agreement between the AFA and the FA. For Kerry it was a most welcome return for a gifted player, although it was Cotton’s first season in City colours. In case the name seems familiar, he founded the sports shop which is still going strong in Oxford, and which continues to advertise in the match programmes and support the club.
City had to endure a great deal of Stockton pressure right from the start. The home side were buoyed up by the partisan crowd of 5,000, some of whom no doubt had cheered for City back in 1906 against their arch-rivals Bishop Auckland. Only about 150 City fans had taken the excursion train from Oxford. The Northern League side took the lead with a certain amount of luck after 22 minutes, Davis deflecting a colleague’s shot into the net. City fought back gamely, but could not effectively deal with the home defence, and, despite having much of the possession during the second half, they just could not get that elusive equaliser. Stockton fell to Northern Nomads in the next round, who themselves went all the way to the Final where they narrowly lost out at Elland Road Leeds in an all-Northern affair to another side well known to Oxford City: Bishop Auckland.
City lost heavily the following Saturday against champions-elect London Caledonians, but, after that, Isthmian form was excellent, apart from a catastrophic midweek visit to Nunhead with a side almost wholly made up of reserves. After a hectic end to the campaign, which saw half their Isthmian fixtures played in the last eight weeks of the season, City finished a very creditable sixth, with a very symmetric outcome of 10 wins, 10 losses and no draws, and 42 goals both for and against.

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