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OXFORD CITY FC - HISTORY & STATISTICS

© Chris Byrne 2010

1947-1948

The season started with two friendlies against touring sides. At the end of August a team from Leiden in The Netherlands, a city with which Oxford was ‘twinned’ the previous year, were beaten 6-1, and, a week later, the Sin Tao Sports Club from Hong Kong supplied the opposition and, to great surprise in the local press, played “inventive” football and defeated their hosts 4-1.
The season started well and the 1st XI were still unbeaten by the end of October but the drift of players away from the amateur game was continuing and City were finding it hard to find players of a high enough standard. Rex Adams (Blackpool), Alf Jefferies (Brentford), Dennis Gordon and Eddie Wilcox (both West Bromwich Albion) all left at some point in the season for the professional game. In fact Dennis Gordon was chosen for the England Amateur international team, but turned professional before he could play. Ralph Walker played for Leyton Orient Reserves once or twice, but declined to sign full-time. It reached the point where, towards the end of the season, a petition was circulated and presented to the committee suggesting that the club should consider taking steps to become a professional club. This gradually built towards a very well attended meeting in the Town Hall ... of which more later.
The results took a turn for the worse as the season wore on. The 1st XI lost 9-0 at Ilford and 5-1 to both Leytonstone and Woking in the space of four weeks, and the Reserves, who had started the season brightly with a 6-2 win over a normally strong Ilford team, were faring no better, conceding 51 goals by the end of November. One of the brighter spots was a 7-1 victory in a friendly on Boxing Day against London Caledonians, who were clearly a shadow of the club who had been Isthmian champions on six occasions before the war.
Organisation was still not all that it might be, either. The first 30 minutes of the away match at Woking was played with just nine men as Ralph Martin and Ron Canham, travelling by car, lost their way. Ron Buckingham did put City ahead before the late-comers arrived, but the eleven men finally lost 1-5. Two weeks later captain Percy James was left in Oxford and had to hire a taxi to Chiswick for the match against Corinthian-Casuals – at a cost of £6 to the Club!
The national cup competitions offered no cheer to City either, with them collapsing to a 5-0 defeat at Banbury Spencer in the Extra Preliminary Round, and going out of the Amateur Cup in their first match 2-3 to an unfancied Letchworth Town from the Hertfordshire County League. Locally they fared better. In the Senior Cup they survived a scare at Osberton Radiators to level late on for a 2-2 draw, before moving through to the Quarter-Finals 4-0 in the replay. N.A.C. (Northern Aluminium Company – based in Banbury) were dispatched 5-1; and then, in the semi-final, St Frideswide’s, an historically strong West Oxford club from the Oxfordshire Senior League, were beaten 4-1.

1947-8

The final was played at Iffley Road, and a crowd of almost 8000 saw Spartan League Headington United take the cup with a single goal. Headington, Osberton Radiators, St Frideswide’s and City were invited to play for the Hospitals Cup and Headington again defeated City by a single goal in the Final.
Back in the Town Hall the meeting to discuss the petition attracted a lot of attention. Headington United were expanding quickly and Mr Wyatt, moving the motion to become professional, spoke about the worry that “... if a professional club should spring up in Oxford, then City could see their gates drop as low as 1200”. Against this Mr Owens asked whether supporters would wish to watch “... a Second Division of the Southern League with its ninth-rate professionals” rather than such teams as Dulwich Hamlet, Leytonstone and Corinthian-Casuals? It was also fairly certain that the College, City’s landlords, would veto the playing of professional sport on the White House ground. The move to turn professional was defeated easily.
On the representative side John Varney gained an England Youth Cap; Ralph Martin and Keith Savin played for the Isthmian League against The Navy; and James, Walker, Wilcox and Martin all won County Caps.

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