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© Chris Byrne 2010


The Isthmian League was still looking at ways of strengthening and had expanded its membership to sixteen teams, with Tooting & Mitcham United joining from the Athenian League.
At the White House the air of optimism continued, and as most players had decided to stay with the club it was generally felt that here was a side, with an average age of just 22 that, if it could be kept together, had considerable potential. It was therefore something of a shock and a disappointment in the first match of the season when, after drawing 1-1 after 30 minutes, the team collapsed to a 9-3 defeat at Bromley.
The first home game of the season on the following Saturday, however, saw a remarkable reversal of fortune as the 1st XI trounced Romford 10-1: the first time since 1924, when they beat Woking 11-2, that the club had reached double figures in an Isthmian League match! The next four games were also won and, in mid-September after six matches, City topped the table.
Cup matches then took centre-stage and there passed a month without a league game which saw City slide down the table.
The first of these matches saw the team easily overcome Amersham Town 6-0 in the Extra Preliminary Round of the Amateur Cup. The following Monday a good crowd watched two goals from Peter James give City a 2-1 victory over Pegasus in the AFA Invitation Cup Final carried over, as always seemed to be the case, from the previous season. This was the club’s first ever victory in the final of this competition. The next Saturday and City pulled off a good 3-2 win at Maidenhead in the First Qualifying Round of the FA Cup. Into October and Aylesbury United, 2-0, ended City’s hopes in the FA Cup and, a week later, Maidenhead reversed the FA Cup score and won by the odd goal in five at the White House in the Amateur Cup.
The travelling involved in getting to matches was causing concern in November as petrol rationing in the wake of the Suez Crisis was a major headache for coach companies, though the problem eased in the New Year.
Gradually the 1st XI began to pull themselves up the table with some encouraging results in December and the Reserves were making headway in their Section as well after occupying bottom spot at the start of the month. The Casuals were doing very well too and headed the Oxfordshire Senior League narrowly from Thame United. Percy James’ contribution to the improvement was recognised in December by the club extending his contract, and 1957 started with the 1st XI standing 4th but equal on points with two other clubs, Woking and Bromley, with all three teams ten points behind league-leaders Wycombe.


The Reserves started the New Year in strong form, with a 6-0 defeat of Wimbledon, in front of a season’s best 1000+ at the White House, and a 10-0 defeat of Kingstonian taking them to fourth.
For the 1st XI results continued to be strong, but so did those of the clubs above them, and, though they rose to third briefly, they finally completed the season in fourth position, their best for over a decade.
The Reserves continued to play well and finished in fifth place. Home form was particularly good and, in fact, they only suffered one home defeat between October 1955 and April 1957.
The Casuals eventually finished as runners-up to Thame in the Senior League for whom Arthur Howlett impressed at centre-forward prior to moving to City in the close-season. It was also reported in March that the Casuals’ players “...enjoyed their annual trip to London, where they visited Highbury to watch the Arsenal play the Wolves
The 1st XI had a comfortable route through the earlier rounds of the Senior Cup, scoring nineteen goals without reply, and lifted the cup for the thirteenth time on Easter Monday evening with a 5-0 defeat of Witney. The unusual evening start for the match had been the result of the OFA’s insistence that the match took place on that day. They had originally wanted a morning kick-off but the clubs had been unhappy at the idea of getting players, and supporters for that matter, to the Manor ground for an early start, and a 3.00 kick-off was not possible as Headington United were at home. So after a quick roll and white-lining the match started 90 minutes after United’s game finished. They also beat Witney, 3-2, in the Benevolent Cup Final played on a scorching day in mid-May.
The Reserves retained the Reading Senior Cup with a good 3-1 victory over Slough Town Reserves.
Doug Buswell captained the 1st XI again, and also led the County side, though the OFA were seriously considering withdrawing from the County Championship because of poor attendances. In October Carl Saunders played for an FA XI against Oxford University; in November Peter James represented the Isthmian League (Reserve Section) XI against the Corinthian League XI and Clive Taylor signed professional forms for Reading in January.
There was an unusually large crowd at Bicester in April to watch the RAOC Richards Cup Final when 17 Company RAOC Nesscliff beat 3 Training Battalion RAOC Hilsea 4-2. The attraction? The winning team contained two talented National Servicemen: Duncan Edwards and Bobby Charlton.

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