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© Chris Byrne 2010


Several players had followed Johnny Crichton to Banbury while others had moved on elsewhere and so Ron Humpston had had to work hard over the summer months to put together a squad. Income was still falling and the committee decided to raise admission again: to 3/- (15p) and 2/- (10p) for “Boys and OAPs”.
The season got off to a good start and the 1st XI led the league after three matches, but had slipped to third by mid-September. John Woodley scored his 350th goal for the club against Leytonstone in October and netted four a fortnight later in a 7-0 win over a disappointing Bromley side. The same match, however, saw the club having to post warning notices in the wake of an ill-tempered match against Ilford which had seen arguments between players, officials and supporters.
At the start of the season the City committee was one of several who wrote to the Isthmian League asking if the rule concerning substitutes could not be brought in line with the majority of other leagues, as the Isthmian League, at this time, still only allowed the use of substitutes in the case of an injury. The League replied that they would consider the request.
Exemption from the early rounds meant that the 1st XI didn’t start their FA Cup involvement until the opening day of November when Southern Premier side Kings Lynn visited the White House in the Fourth Qualifying Round. After a minute’s silence to the memory of Jack Guilfoyle whose association with the club stretched back to the 1920s, City were made to work hard by the Norfolk side who had themselves reached the First Round Proper the previous season, but two goals from Ken Oram took them through to the competition proper for the fourth consecutive year. Many were disappointed when City were drawn second out of the hat against Cheltenham Town and Mr Barlow, the press officer, was quoted in the local papers as saying, “We’re basically in the FA Cup for financial reasons. From this point of view the prospect is not very exciting”. The First Division Southern Leaguers proved to be difficult opponents and had the better of the first half though Ken Oram had given the visitors the lead.


The City defence had a better second period after a change in tactics; John Woodley scored a fine individual goal to tie up a win to put City into the Second Round for the first time in their history, and allow Alan Pentecost to progress further in the competition than his professional brother Mike did with Fulham – they lost 2-0 at Exeter!
For the second season running City were drawn at home to Swansea Town and everyone was wondering if they could push the Welsh side that bit further than the previous season. A disappointing crowd of about 3200 saw John Woodley fire City ahead in the 33rd minute, but the second half saw the visitors raise their game and four headed goals from David Gwyther helped them through to an apparently comfortable 5-1 win ... but City went down fighting.
After this run hopes were high for a something similar in the Amateur Cup, and the draw took City to Bromley, whom they had already beaten twice in the league. The week after the Swansea game players and officials were caught up in the ‘flu epidemic, and with eight first team players bed-ridden the FA allowed a postponement. Perhaps they hadn’t quite recovered but, whatever the reason, the next Saturday saw a poor performance by the Blues and a win for lowly Bromley by 3-2.
Back to league action and two encounters with Wycombe over the Christmas holiday period. The home match was lost 0-3 on Boxing Day, and worse was to come the following day when Wycombe ran out 6-1 victors at Loakes Park. Other heavy defeats were to follow as the season moved on: 6-0 at St Albans and an 8-0 humiliation at Tooting & Mitcham late in April. These were partly offset by an eleven goal thriller against Maidstone that City won 8-3, but the season ended weakly and a mid-table finish was the best that could be managed.
The Reserves who had done so well the previous year in Division 1 of the Hellenic League found the Premier Division a different matter altogether and struggled for most of the season, finishing 14th. They did reach the semi-final of the Premier Division Cup but Pinehurst put an end to the run. It had been announced in January that one of several changes for the following season would be the abandonment of a Reserve team and the morale of the side fell away in the second half of the season. Their final match in the Hellenic Premier drew a good crowd to the White House to see Bob McRea score their last goal in the competition in a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Bicester Town.
In the Senior Cup City beat Easington Sports 4-0; Northway 3-0 after the blizzards of late February and early March had wiped out most local football; and Witney Town 2-0 in the semi-final. The final at the Manor was a scrappy affair, with Bicester Town playing the better football, but City eventually got through to a 22nd cup win 3-0.
Despite the wintry weather the Club had been involved in an unusual match at the end of February when, because of the late withdrawal of Wycombe Wanderers on account of their Amateur Cup involvement, City stepped into the breach and played the England Amateur XI at Loakes Park as a warm-up match for the international side. The game was played behind closed-doors and City lost 0-4.
The previous season’s Smith Memorial Cup Final had been carried over to September, and Banbury won 5-2 on aggregate. This season’s final was also lost to Banbury: 0-2 at the White House and 1-4 in the second leg when City turned up missing three players and made up the numbers with two Banbury spectators and a travelling City fan!
In the final match of the White House season an Ex-City XI beat the Present XI 3-1with goals from Peter Slade (now Thame’s player-coach), Bob Jackson and Tony Bricknell (Abingdon Town’s manager). John Woodley replied for City.
The County finally withdrew from the Southern Counties Amateur Cup after some heavy defeats which they felt might have been avoided with more support from the City who had been reluctant to release players on several occasions.
The meeting that decided to drop the reserve team also decided to follow the lead of teams like Wycombe and St Albans and maintain a senior squad of just 16-18 players and Ron Humpston was to be appointed Team Manager with overall charge of this squad. The committee hoped that this move would give the club a better chance of success. The lack of league success and the dropping of the Reserve XI was met with dismay in some quarters, and Mr Mick Woodley secured enough signatures to a petition for an Extraordinary General Meeting to be held in June. Almost a hundred attended and when the vote was taken only seven voted for the no-confidence motion after an impassioned speech from Ron Humpston who was reported as saying, “... City cannot afford to wait for players to develop through Hellenic League football. They must come to the club ready-made and capable of playing at the top amateur level. With the new policy I guarantee that the club will either win the Isthmian League or Amateur Cup within three years.” Time would tell.

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