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© Chris Byrne 2010

1919-1920: Peace Returns

As mentioned in the First World War section, there were matches soon after the Armistice but it was to be almost a year later that the fixture list really returned to normality.
A special meeting had been arranged in Oxford Town Hall in March 1919 and the Club’s plans for refurbishing the ground, and for its future plans, were listened to by a good-sized audience, and it was confirmed that the Isthmian League would restart in September. New Crusaders and Shepherds Bush had withdrawn, but Tufnell Park and Civil Service had accepted invitations to take their places.
There were no pre-season friendlies and the first post-War season kicked off on September 13th with a home defeat against Ilford. Fairly reflecting what would become a rather up-and-down season the team bounced back from that initial reverse to beat Leytonstone 5-0 at the White House the following Saturday, only to lose 0-5 at Leytonstone on the third weekend of the season.
The Town v Gown matches were reintroduced, and, making up for lost time, the City played the University twice within the space of a fortnight – winning 5-1 and 5-2.
There was exemption again until the Fourth Qualifying Round of the FA Cup, and City entertained Thornycrofts (Woolston) at the White House in mid-November, and the Club took the opportunity of an FA Cup tie to open its new Western Road stand. Unfortunately for the home side, the Hampshire team took some of the gloss off the occasion by winning by the odd goal in three, and it was to be an exciting season for them as they made their way through all the early rounds to claim a First Round home tie against Burnley, which they drew 0-0 before going out of the competition 0-5 in the replay in Lancashire.
Another exciting Amateur Cup trail began on the first weekend in the New Year with a visit to Charlton Athletic in the London club's last season as amateurs before joining the Southern League and then the Football League. On a wet and heavy pitch the City found the going tough, but goals from Alf Jakeman and Frank Hartley took them through 2-1.
A home match against Boot’s Athletic from Nottingham was next up, won thanks to a single goal from local boy, and Oxford Blue, Hugh Read. The Third Round saw City second out of the hat against renowned cup fighters Bournemouth Gasworks Athletic and a large travelling contingent of supporters cheered the side on to another single-goal victory: Alf Jakeman providing the vital score.

Charlton Programme

Cup fever was now running quite high in the city as the Quarter-Final draw gave the Club a home match against Dulwich Hamlet, whom City had already beaten in the league. There were over 4000 in the ground an hour before kick-off, and by the time the two teams took to the pitch a record-breaking 5500 had paid a total of £293 to watch the proceedings. This time, however, the odd-goal victory went to the Londoners, who went on eventually to win the Cup, defeating Tufnell Park 2-1 in an all-London final at Millwall: a match that drew a huge gate for the Final of almost 13000.
The 1st XI finished the season strongly with comfortable wins against London Caledonians and Tufnell Park and the Club's Committee were reportedly very pleased with the season’s progress.

FA Letter re Tour

In an interesting move, given the recent conflict in Europe, the Club had been actively investigating the possibility of an Easter tour to Italy*. The Club went through the usual procedure in January of asking the FA about the feasibility of such an enterprise and received the reply shown on the left.
With the War so recent, the FA were clearly very well aware that feelings against Germany and her allies still ran high, and Mr Benson and the Committee simplified their plans and undertook a very brief weekend-visit to Antwerp. The match against Koninklijke Beerschot VAC was lost 0-1, and Cantonal (from Lucerne) were beaten 8-1, while, back in Oxford, a reserve side fulfilled the Club’s Isthmian League match against Casuals – winning 4-0.

*Italy, the UK's allies during WW1, were considering restarting fixtures with, among others, Austria.

Footnote: The comment "...note what you say with regard to Spiller and Phillips" could refer to Mr Benson mentioning them with regard to international recognition: perhaps a place in a South v North Trial?

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