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OXFORD CITY FC - HISTORY & STATISTICS

© Chris Byrne 2010

1948-1949

Just before the season began Percy James was awarded his County cap for cricket to add to his County football cap, and Ray Jefferies followed his brother Alf to Brentford. Keith Savin was selected for an Isthmian XI to play the Indian Olympic XI who traditionally still played in bare feet: indeed they were not allowed to play in the finals of the 1950 World Cup, even though they had qualified, because of this!
The league season started brightly enough with a 3-1 victory over Leytonstone, the champions, and City were battling for honours up to Christmas, but the results fell away rather in the second half of the season and they finished, somewhat disappointed, in fifth place.
The season, in many ways, was really about cup exploits.
City had to enter at the Extra Preliminary Round and Frank Avery, newly arrived from Wycombe Wanderers, scored four on his debut in a 9-1 rout of Henley Town. Bicester Town were disposed of, 6-1, in the next Round, followed by a closer contest, 2-1, with Huntley & Palmer’s. Then an 8-0 battering of Maidenhead saw City through to the final Qualifying Round and a chance to gain revenge for the previous season’s cup disaster at Banbury. In an end-to-end match in front of a then record crowd at The Stadium of just over 7000 City edged through by the odd goal in five to earn a visit to Southern League Hereford United. The match captured the imagination of the supporters and an excursion train was organised with the fledgling British Railways – eleven shillings (55p) return; limited to six hundred passengers. A crowd of over 8000 saw City push their professional opponents all the way, but they were eventually defeated 4-3 after extra time.
In the Amateur Cup City had been given exemption until the First Round Proper where they overcame Athenian League Redhill in early January in front of a good crowd at the White House Ground. The draw brought City a plum home draw with mighty Leytonstone who had won the Cup in the previous two seasons, and there was tremendous local interest in the match. January 29th brought fog with it and, though it had cleared in Oxford, these were the days of the ‘pea-soupers’ in London and the coach companies refused to take to the roads in such conditions, forcing the Leytonstone players to make their own ways to Oxford, mainly on a variety of trains.

1948-9

So a 7000+ crowd was packed into the White House, many in the new temporary stand on the ‘Popular Side’, but, by kick-off, only five of the Leytonstone players had arrived at the ground and the match was eventually called off at 3.30 when an exhibition match was hastily arranged between the City and a team made up of those Leytonstone players who had arrived augmented with City Reserves: City won the shortened game 4-1. These days I’m sure City would have been awarded the tie, but those were more tolerant times and the match was simply rescheduled for the following Saturday. To make up for the previous Saturday’s disappointment entrance charges were halved and this no doubt helped to produce the record White House attendance: 9756. The visitors made sure there was no repeat of the result on the first day of the season, when City had won 3-1, and brushed City aside 6-1. They didn’t quite succeed in their quest for a hat-trick of Final victories as they lost at the Semi-Final stage in a replay at Bromley.
In the Senior Cup City began with a 3-1 victory over MPRD (Metal & Produce Recovery Depot based at Cowley); a 4-1 defeat of Witney Town at “The Running Track” in Iffley Road followed by a battling 2-1 Semi-Final win over Headington United in front of 7000 at the OURFC ground. A Percy James hat-trick saw them comfortably past Banbury Spencer ‘A’ – professionals were not allowed to take part in any competition organised by the O.F.A in those days – in the Final.
Four teams were invited by the O.F.A. to compete for the Benevolent Cup: City played Osberton Radiators, and Headington were paired with Bicester Town in the semi-finals. City needed a replay to reach the final, whilst Headington cruised through 6-0. The Final, played at the White House, saw the ‘home’ side win 4-1.
Ralph Walker and Keith Savin represented the Isthmian League against the Athenian league, and Walker signed as an amateur for Swindon Town.
Percy James’ ability finally got the recognition that it deserved when he represented Wales against England in January at Swindon and scored his country’s only goal in a 4 1defeat.

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