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© Chris Byrne 2010


The season began with the club still awaiting permission to improve the floodlighting by raising the pylons and adding more bulbs. The Reserves had withdrawn from the Isthmian League Reserve Section at the end of the previous season when it had been agreed that member clubs would not be obliged to enter teams in both the Senior and Reserve competitions. The Hellenic League had initially accepted City’s application but it had then been vetoed and City had been accepted back by the Isthmian for another season ... and then the Hellenic League changed their mind again!
Although City lost, 1-5, at home on the first Saturday of the season it was at least a friendly match: against Sportclub Kleve from Germany. The league season got off to a flying start with the first three matches, against St Albans, Woking and Bromley, all won, and in the next match John Woodley scored his 300th goal for the club to defeat Sutton United.
Having performed well the previous season the club didn’t enter the major cup competitions until later than usual, and were putting together a solid series of league results and climbed to fourth by late September. The Reserves, on the other hand, were having a poor season in what would prove to be their final Isthmian campaign.
In early October Percy James, City’s coach for the past fourteen seasons resigned because of pressure of work at St Edmund Hall. Percy had been associated with the club on and off since the first post-war season and had taken on the role of coach in 1954 after the club had had to apply for re-election in three successive seasons. He had been a truly all-round sportsman gaining County caps for both cricket and football; winning the County table-tennis title; and being a very successful amateur boxer. Tony Bricknell took over as caretaker-coach.
The club entered the FA Cup in the final Qualifying Round and had to visit Athenian Leaguers Ware and a goal apiece from Steve Morton and John Woodley gave them a relatively comfortable victory. So, after so many years of waiting, City were through to the First Round Proper for a second successive year and were first out of the hat for a tie with Luton Town.


The Saturday before the FA Cup match also saw the 1st XI at home with everyone hoping for a good run-out in preparation for the next weekend. Ron Caffel and Alan Hellyer made their debuts and the team cantered to a 7-1 win against an Ilford side that started with only nine men and a reserve present.
The Big Day came, and so did the snow: the match was postponed and with it needing to take place during the following week negotiations began. Alan Brown, the Luton manager, would not play under the City floodlights and the FA initially wanted it played on Thursday afternoon but this would have meant four of the City team being unable to play. Playing on Thursday under lights at the Manor was also turned down by the Luton management as United had played on the Wednesday night, giving the pitch little time for preparation. Eventually, and somewhat reluctantly, it was agreed to play the match at Kenilworth Road on the Thursday night. By way of compensation a good crowd of over 13000 saw the visitors take the game to their Fourth Division hosts and go ahead three minutes into the second half with a John Woodley goal. Steve Morton then went very close to increasing the lead. Luton raised their game and the constant pressure finally paid off when firstly Rioch and then Buxton scored within the space of four minutes to give the Division’s eventual champions a narrow win.
Two days later saw a return to league action and a “dull” 1-1 draw at Dulwich: City’s first drawn game of the season.
The New Year arrived with the 1st XI in sixth place in their section, and the Reserves with results improving slightly, up to twelfth. January also heralded the arrival of the new coach: Johnny Crichton who had been in charge of Oxford United Reserves.
Snow and ice again disrupted games in the early part of the month, but January 20th brought City’s first Amateur Cup match of the season and two very late goals from Caffel and Woodley gained them a win at St Albans when it looked as though all was lost.
A week later and, for the second year running, City played hosts to a strong Northern League team: Tow Law Town had already had an excellent FA Cup run, disposing of Mansfield Town 5 1 and then holding Shrewsbury to a draw, and were expected to give City a difficult time. Ron Caffel gave the home side the start they needed with a 3rd minute goal and Steve Morton added another to see them through by the odd goal in three.
The Third Round saw the visit of Prestwich from the North-West and Woodley (2), Bradbury and Caffel found the net in a 4-2 victory in front of a disappointing crowd of under 2500.
The team was playing well and were unbeaten since the arrival of the new coach and hopes were high when the draw for the Quarter-Finals matched City against 1000-1 outsiders Chesham United from the Athenian League. The visitors put up great resistance in holding on for a 0-0 draw at the White House and then disposed of the Blues in the replay 2-0 with City putting up an “...inept display” according to the Oxford Times. The Buckinghamshire team beat Wealdstone at Craven Cottage in the Semi-Final, but lost by the odd goal to Leytonstone at Wembley after playing 23 hours of football!
All the cup excitement took its toll and the club went through a lean spell leading up to Easter. The 1st XI lost 0-5 at home to Walthamstow Avenue, the worst home defeat for several years, and the Reserves went down 5-0 at Hendon: “...all in all a shocking display, best forgotten!” League results picked up a little after Easter and the 1st XI finished with an exciting 4-4 draw at St Albans, while the Reserves last ever Isthmian match was a 1-1 draw against Hitchin.
The strong cup season continued locally. The Senior Cup was won for the twentieth time with a 6-0 defeat of Witney Town, after a 2-2 draw, and Banbury United were beaten 6-4 over two legs in the Smith Memorial Cup.
John Shippey and that other great amateur keeper of the era, John Swannell of Hendon, went with the Great Britain team to West Germany for an Olympic qualifier and Shippey finally gained his England cap in a 0-0 draw against Italy in May. Tony Bradbury played in an FA XI against Oxford University; John Lamb represented the RAF; and eight players from the club gained County honours.
Bob Jackson retired at the end of the season after more than 300 appearances for the club. He had gained a Blue while at Oxford; captained the club and county and played in a final England Trial.

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