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© Chris Byrne 2010



With most players returning Doug Buswell, who had considered a move to Wycombe, was reappointed as captain for the fourth season with Tony Bricknell as vice-captain. The 1st XI got off to a great start in the league with an 8-1 trouncing of Corinthian-Casuals followed by a draw at Ilford wearing their “ all white continental-type shirts” to avoid a clash with their hosts’ blue-and-white hoops. The Reserves began in fine form as well with a 5-0 defeat of Ilford followed by a remarkable match with Dulwich Hamlet where City lead 3-0, then trailed 5-3, before running out 7-5 victors. Then came the usual run of cup matches to interrupt the flow of league matches, and the eighth championship match wasn’t played until the end of November; though, with six wins and a draw from those games, hopes were high for a good finish. Results continued to be positive and an unbeaten home record was maintained until the end of January when they went down 3-5 to Leytonstone in a match that became so bad-tempered that the referee brought the two sides together with fifteen minutes remaining to warn them that if the rough play continued he would abandon the game! The Good Friday match which was played at the Manor against Barking was the club’s first ever league match under lights and a crowd of over 4000 saw an edgy City scrape home 1-0. At this point City lay third behind Wimbledon and Wycombe, but the backlog of games produced a hectic last few weeks and injuries and fatigue contributed to an uneven run-in. There were two good wins over Tooting & Mitcham, the reigning champions, and a first ever win at Bromley; but a home loss to Clapton and big defeats on the road at Dulwich and Romford saw them slip to a final position of fourth. In the final league encounter of the season at Tooting John Woodley made the first of his record number of appearances for the 1st XI – and scored the first of his many goals.
The Reserves, having started well, went through a fallow spell through October and November, but lifted their form towards the end of the season to finish tenth. For the first time, however, an Easter Tour was organised. Devon was the area chosen, where they lost to Newton Abbot Spurs, 1-3, on the Saturday, but beat Dartmouth 4-1 on the Bank Holiday Monday.

The club began at the earliest possible stage in both national competitions. Straightforward wins over Banbury and Chesham set up a local derby at the Manor in the Second Qualifying Round but, although City went in at the break two goals to the good, the professionals came back strongly to take an exciting match 3-2. There were now so many clubs in the Amateur Cup that Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, previously treated as one area, had to be separated. An easy victory, 10-0, over Banbury NAC in the Extra Preliminary Round was followed by a 5 2 win at Kidlington. A record Amateur Cup win for City followed, as Morris Motors were completely overrun 12-2 with Ron Goodison scoring five. Abingdon Town and Didcot Town were then both overcome 4-1, and, in the final Qualifying Round, a resounding 6-1 defeat of St Albans took City through to face Ilford, the previous season’s runners-up. A large crowd of over 5000 were treated to City playing at their best and easing to a 3-1 victory. A trip into the unknown followed when they were drawn away to ICI Alkali, close neighbours of Northwich Victoria, from the Mid-Cheshire League whose heyday had been in the mid-30s when they had reached the Quarter Finals of the competition in successive seasons. The factory-based team were no match for City’s fast, passing game and the visitors ran out 7-3 winners, and their sixth goal was their fiftieth goal in the competition this season! The luck of the draw gave City another long trek in the Third Round: to renowned cup-fighters Crook Town. A train for supporters was chartered, leaving at 7.00 on Saturday morning and getting back to Oxford at 1.47 on the Sunday morning: all for a subsidised cost to fans of £1. On a fog-bound and heavy pitch City were outfought and went down 5-2 to the eventual winners of the cup. It showed, not for the first time, the differences in approach between the southern and northern amateurs, as the Oxford Times reported, “...a case of copybook football by City being opposed by the more open and thrustful play of Crook, and the latter policy triumphed. As far as the players were concerned only Buswell and Nathan were anywhere near as ‘physical’ as the northerners.”
In the Senior Cup City had a bye to the Second Round where, because of the Amateur Cup run, they finally played Pegasus four weeks later than the date originally set for the match, and brushed them aside 5-0. The Quarter Final match, however, produced one of the biggest shocks for many years when they lost 2-1 at Thame United who, the press were quick to point out, played at the same level as the City’s 3rd XI. They did, however, beat Bicester Town, 3-2, to win the Benevolent Cup on a scorching May afternoon. Arthur Howlett needed one goal in this match to reach his half-century for the season and his team-mates tried their hardest to set one up, but to no avail: he even missed a penalty. He did score the elusive goal in the Whitsun Tour of Holland against Gooi, from Hilversum, and then, for good measure, scored a hat-trick in the 7-2 defeat of Wanner Eikel in the other tour match. After lengthy searching of the archives it was agreed that this was the first time that a player had reached fifty for a season for the 1st XI. Ron Goodison was also on good form and reached 44 in a season that saw the team score over 170 goals in all competitions.
Doug Buswell was reserve for the England v Ireland match in September, and Bernard Harris was chosen for the South v North England Trial, where he scored the South’s only goal. These two, and Arthur Howlett, were attracting considerable attention and scouts from Charlton and Everton were spotted at the White House. Tony Bricknell and Howlett represented the Isthmian League against the Athenian League on Boxing Day; and Bryan Codd was selected for the League Reserve XI against the Spartan League in November. From the Colts Ian Rundle and Vic Mobley were starring in an excellent Oxford Boys XI, and Mobley had an England Schoolboys’ Trial in February.
With the club maintaining a much-improved standard under his guidance, Percy James’ contract was extended for five years at the turn of the year.

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