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© Chris Byrne 2010


A.N. Evans (Pinnace)

The 1920/1 league campaign saw another see-saw beginning with some encouraging wins (e.g. 4-1 against Amateur Cup holders Dulwich) balanced by some lacklustre defeats (0-4 against Woking). They went one step further in the FA Cup than the previous year, but a comfortable 3-0 win over Athenian League Hampstead Town was followed by a surprise 1-3 home loss to another Athenian team, Bromley.
New Year’s Day brought a football special from Worcestershire bringing Badsey Rangers and their supporters for the Amateur Cup tie, and City produced their best cup-form to storm to a 5-0 victory. Unfortunately they couldn’t maintain the momentum two weeks later when Leytonstone were the victors at the White House by two goals to one after extra-time.
As in the previous season the 1st XI seemed to save their best form for the latter part of campaign, and only lost one game after mid-February, and would wind up their league fixtures in fine style with two crushing defeats of London opposition: 9-1 against Casuals and 6-2 against West Norwood.
Another continental tour was undertaken at Easter. Two games were played in Paris – a 1-1 draw with Stade Francais and a 5-0 win over Cercle Athletique (the French Cup winners) – and there was a 2-2 draw at Le Havre on the way back to the ferry.
Oxford City players were still being noted on the wider stage. Charlie Walters played his first full game for Tottenham Hotspur, and Len Rogers had a trial at the same club, playing a few games for their reserves. Walters would eventually play 106 matches for the Spurs, and win an FA Cup Winner’s at the end of the season, before moving on the Fulham and the Mansfield Town. Bert Harley had another England Trial, and Fred Spiller was capped for the first time in the England v Wales match at Molineux in January.
And right at the end of the season a local record was created when the whole of the 1st XI were selected to play for Oxfordshire against Wiltshire in the Southern Amateur Counties Final.

In September 1921 most of the previous season’s players remained on the books, and Vince Matthews, a St Frideswide’s half-back with a knack of scoring goals, joined the ranks. Matthews would move on to before the end of the season and was soon playing for Sheffield United: while at the Blades he won two full England caps, scoring against Belgium in 1928.
The season started with an Isthmian league victory (at London Caledonians) but the side then hit their worst ever goalless slump, going through the whole of October without scoring a goal in five games.
The occasionally unpredictable FA Cup ‘seeding’ found City exempt until the Fifth Qualifying Round this season, and they improved sufficiently to get through the tie against London Caledonians with goals from Bert Millin and Alf Jakeman to set up a meeting with Norwich City: who had been admitted into Division 3 South of the Football League the previous season.
Meanwhile the Club had a First Round Amateur Cup tie to contend with and survived a visit into unknown territory to play Custom House in East London with a 0-0 draw
The visit of a League side to the White House for the first time since the War unsurprisingly created plenty of interest locally, and a record crowd of 6179 (paying out £366 at the gates) watch City match their illustrious opponents for much of the game and a Frank Hartley goal gave the supporters a great boost, but the game ended all-square and the replay the following Thursday in Norwich was fairly comfortably won by the professionals, 3-0.
With hardly time to draw breath after an exhausting day in East Anglia, City undertook their Amateur Cup replay forty-eight hours later as Custom House made their first and only visit to Oxford. Hartley returned in place of Harry Wackett at centre-forward, and his goal, and another from Jakeman, won the day.
As an aside, it is interesting to note how the Amateur Cup reflected the rapid rise of local football on the resumption of matches after the Great War. In the 1919/20 season only Henley Town, apart from Oxford City, entered the competition – losing 7-1 at Newbury in the Third Qualifying Round. Two seasons later and nine Oxfordshire sides took part in the Qualifying Rounds - Abingdon Town, Banbury Harriers, Chipping Norton, Cowley, Henley Comrades, Henley Town, Morris Motors, Stones Athletic and Wantage Town – though none made it through to the First Round Proper.
The City’s interest in the competition ended in January when they lost 2-3 at St Albans and they were back to catching up on their Isthmian fixtures. They had only played eleven (of 26) fixtures by the middle of February, and with other clubs in similar positions the Isthmian League met at the end of January to put forward the proposal that Isthmian sides only entered the Amateur Cup, and not the FA Cup, in future. The proposal was defeated.
Results were mixed, though there were some good wins, before the Club departed for their Easter Tour, this year to Portugal. This was their most ambitious project yet, with five matches planned over eight days. The highlight was their match against Sporting Club of Portugal in Lisbon, which drew a crowd in excess of 10000 to watch the home side defeat their English visitors 3-1 – the only loss on an otherwise very successful tour.
The day after returning they were back into a hectic run of five Isthmian matches in a fortnight – of which they won three and lost two.
During the season Fred Spiller again played for the England Amateur XI and also captained the South team against the full England XI at Craven Cottage. He also gained more recognition when he was part of the first ever Isthmian XI representative side for their match against an Athenian XI at Wimbledon.
During the summer an Isthmian touring party came to Oxford (a custom that continued, on and off) for a number of years and took on the City at a number of sports. Frank Hartley again proved to be a match-winner as his 34 took the City XI to a two-wicket win in the cricket match – Hartley was capped for Oxfordshire at football, cricket and hockey.

AE Butler (Pinnace)
C Williams
V Spiller
H Wackett (Pinnace)
Ben Brooker
Pinnace Card (reverse)

Between 1920 and 1925 the Godfrey Phillips tobacco company produced a series of cigarette cards - one card in every packet of ten cigarettes - and this grew in that time into probably the largest series of cigarette cards ever released. It included rugby clubs as well as (Association) football clubs, and finally numbered 2462 different players!
The Oxford City cards (twelve in total) must, judging by the players featured, have been released in 1922 or 1923.

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