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© Chris Byrne 2010

1932-1934: Rare FA Cup Success

Though Charles Townsend turned professional with Reading, there were generally few changes to the side that had performed so creditably the previous season.
There were a couple of in-house Trial matches, which attracted reasonably large crowds, but then it was straight into the league fixtures at the close of August, the season beginning with an entertaining 5-1 win at the White House over Woking with Charles Hackett finding the mark four times. Unfortunately this bright opening did not herald a string of high-scoring games, and no more Isthmian matches were won until the middle of October when Leytonstone were dispatched 4-2.
Although it was still a new venture, the Supporters Club was already finding relations with the ‘parent’ club rather strained, and rumblings were being reported in the local press in September.
Exempt until the final qualifying round of the FA Cup City headed east to take on Ilford on the back of a tremendous 6-2 win the previous week at Isthmian Champions Wimbledon. Unfortunately they found the Essex side in top form and went down 7-0 to one of their biggest ever FA Cup defeats: the local press were extremely critical.
Two more league defeats and a win against Barking in the Amateur Cup led up to an attractive mixture of matches over the Christmas and New Year. Lovells Athletic from Wales were the visitors on Christmas Eve and entertained the enthusiastic holiday crowd to a 4-4 draw that saw the two sides taking turns to edge in front. The Army Wanderers sent a strong side for the Boxing Day match in which the sides shared six goals, before the last of the trio of holiday fixtures brought HMS Excellent, a team that had had its fair share of success in the Amateur Cup over the years, from Portsmouth on New Year’s Eve. The Navy won 2-0.
Clapton ended City’s Amateur Cup hopes for another year, while the Reserves, having staggered perennial champions Dulwich Hamlet with an 8-4 victory at the White House, slipped tamely out of the Oxfordshire Senior Cup against RAF Bicester.
The league season continued its see-saw path and the team finished in a disappointing ninth position with just nine wins to their credit.
The Easter invitation to the tournament at Dieppe was repeated where there was a win (2-0 against Dulwich Hamlet), a defeat (3-1 by the Racing Club of Brussels) and another match against local side St Aubinoise (the result of which appears to have been lost in the mists of time!).
The season finished on a relatively positive note as the Oxford Hospital Cup was regained when Kingstonian were beaten 2-1 after extra time.

The 33/4 season began on a sour note as, amid some fairly vitriolic correspondence in the local press, the football club ‘disowned’ the Supporters Club after a number of disagreements between the two committees.
On the pitch, at least it was a little more upbeat with league wins against Woking and Wycombe Wanderers, although the third ‘W’ brought an end to the promise when Wimbledon cantered to a 5-0 victory at the White House and then Wycombe gained ample revenge for the earlier reverse, running out 6-1 winners at Loakes Park.
It was back to the early rounds of the FA Cup for City and, what was to be their best run for many years, began with a nail-biting 4-3 home win against Athenian League Golders Green. After this close encounter there followed much more convincing victories against Park Royal (2-0), Marlow (a record beating 10-1), Southall (4-0) and Shoreham (6-1, with Tony Sinclair, the Oxford University player, scoring four goals from the left-wing) to take City through to the First Round for the first time in almost thirty years.
So, on November 25th a record crowd, at that time, of 7533 packed into the White House to see watch the visit of Gillingham. Unfortunately, after such an impressive build up, the professionals from Kent proved to be far too good for the home side, who were tentative and off-colour all afternoon, and ran out 5-1 winners.
The following two Saturdays put an end to any other hopes of major silverware as firstly Lancing College Old Boys and then Apsley (who would eventually become Hemel Hempstead FC) put them out of the AFA Invitation Cup and the Amateur Cup respectively.
There were plenty of goals over the Christmas break with the visits of HMS Excellent and the Army Wanderers again but league results were not impressive after the turn of the year, and the 6-0 battering of Leytonstone was the only real high point among ten Isthmian defeats in the fifteen games played between January and May.



NOVEMBER 25th 1933

Collins, Gillingham's captain, and Jack Guilfoyle, the Oxford City captain, shake hands before the coin-toss.

Encil Simmonds saves well at the feet of a Gillingham forward.

Gillingham's Scott leaps between Arnold, Randall and Guilfoyle to head his team's first goal.

The Reserves, who had played steadily in first half of the season, also found winning difficult, and were soundly beaten (5-1) by RAF Heyford in the Senior Cup.
The Easter Tour took the Club slightly further afield again, to Switzerland, but the visit was to prove highly embarrassing as, after a 7-2 defeat by Kreuzlingen, there was a complaint to the Swiss FA by the manager of that side that the visitors were not of a sufficiently high standard to warrant a continuation of the itinerary. One more match was played, against Lustenan (lost 1-2), but the remaining three matches that had been arranged were cancelled, so the tour party had to fill in the time with some unexpected sightseeing. Letters flew back and forth between Oxford, the FA and the Swiss upon the players’ return but amid denials and counter-accusations no true picture ever seems to have emerged about what had occurred.
The final league match of the season at the White House would have been labelled a relegation battle these days, as the loser of Clapton’s visit would have to apply for re-election at the AGM, an ignominy that the City Club thought they had put firmly behind them. Luckily Dick Bull made his debut for the team in the fixture and marked it by scoring the first two of the 115 goals he would score for the club in 128 games over the next four seasons. Clapton were beaten 4-2 and joined Woking in seeking re-election.

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