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© Chris Byrne 2010


This was to be a season that, it was hoped, would see the beginning of an upturn in City’s fortunes. The reserves had been disbanded and Ron Humpston now had a squad of 16-17 from which to pick his XI. Most of the ‘senior’ players had remained with the club, although John Shufflebotham had left for Wycombe and Alan Pentecost had signed for Sutton United. Mike Watt and Brian Marcham arrived from Chesham and the team would be captained by Steve Morton, a role he also filled for the British Army XI. Ken Heath, another Army player, signed from Kingstonian, but started the season with a five week ban from matches and training after a sending off for the British Army against a Belgian Army XI.
Work had continued on the ground and, as well as minor cosmetic improvements, Bob Newton now had a new physiotherapy room where the boiler house had once stood, and work was in hand on concreting ten tiers of standing on the North Terraces to replace the previous seven tiers of “...precarious and dirty ash”.
Income was still falling, indeed admission prices were raised again during the season to the equivalent of 20p, and amateur football everywhere had been in decline since the abolition of the Maximum Wage ten years earlier. Clubs were looking for ways to halt the slide and the City committee supported Hendon who were pushing for the introduction of a Second Division to the Isthmian League, with promotion and relegation, and a link with the Athenian League: a move much supported by that league.
To bring more football to the White House City had applied to join, and been accepted by, the Midland Premier Floodlit League and would play in Section B of four Sections along with Chesham, Hemel Hempstead, Maidenhead, Marlow, Slough, Wycombe and Wealdstone.
The season started well with a 4-3 win in a friendly over a strong Oxford United team that included David Icke in goal who would achieve fame (infamy?) as a broadcaster, spokesman for the Green Party and Conspiracy Theorist. Things got better as the team dropped only one point in the first four matches and lay second in the table. Poor home form was a problem, but there were five wins and a draw in the first seven away matches and the side was bolstered by the arrival of Julian Laily from Wycombe who was on the fringe of England honours.


Previous seasons’ FA Cup runs ensured City entered in the Final Qualifying Round again and were pitted against Southern League Cambridge City. The amateurs were playing with confidence and a first-half hat-trick from Mick Holifield put the match beyond the reach of the professionals, City eventually running out 4-1 victors.
So, for the fifth successive season, City were in the hat for the First Round Proper and, for the fifth successive time, they drew a Football League team at home: Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic. Perhaps supporters were becoming blasé about cup matches against league opposition, or perhaps it was just another sign of the times, but only 1600 turned up on November 21st to see the City go close to causing a major upset against one of the front-runners in the Fourth Division when Bobby Marcham scored for the home side three minutes after half-time only for record-breaking Ted MacDougall to head an equaliser with just four minutes remaining.
The replay on the following Wednesday was a very one-sided affair as MacDougall hit a club record six goals in an 8-1 demolition of the Oxford club. Almost exactly one year later MacDougall would rewrite the records still further when he scored nine goals in the 11-0 defeat of Margate at the same stage of the cup.
By the start of 1971, and after their eighth away win, 2-1 at Hitchin, City’s record was P26, W13, D7, L6 and they stood 6th., but their match against Bishop Stortford in the First Round of the Amateur Cup at the start of January, which saw a poor display and a 1-3 defeat, heralded a sudden downturn in the fortunes of the team and, indeed, the club.
For a variety of reasons Ron Humpston was finding it hard to put out the same team from match to match, by the end of November John Woodley was the only ever-present, and the match at Wycombe at the end of January saw eight changes from the programme with Oxford University player Ian Ross and Cheltenham schoolmaster Keith Remnant being drafted in at the last minute. Committee man Bob Bates resigned the following week stating that City “...were broke and with ten games still to play”. This was refuted by Mr McGowan, but, in early February all training was cancelled because of “ problems”, and as the months moved by the cancellations of the tour to Italy, and the team coach for away matches, made it abundantly clear that all was not right. Julian Laily was so put out by the turn of affairs that he returned to Wycombe Wanderers where he had started the season, only to be told to return to Oxford by the FA under the ruling that an amateur player may play for only two teams in any one season!
No more matches were won after the January 2nd defeat of Hitchin; only three points were picked up in the last twelve matches; and the team went without a single home league goal from the 3-3 draw with Kingstonian in mid-December until scoring in the 1-2 defeat against Leytonstone on April 17th. At least the final game of the campaign saw them play well in front of over 1500 at the White House to record a 1-1 draw with the League champions Wycombe Wanderers.
The campaign in the Floodlit Cup had started well with the first four matches all being won, against Hemel Hempstead, Maidenhead, Chesham and Slough, and City led the group for some time, but results fell away and they eventually finished fourth out of eight, suffering their biggest loss since the War along the way: 0-9 at Wycombe. And against Marlow in March Trevor Stokes became the first City player for over 20 years to be sent off in a home game: although his subsequent suspension, from the end of April until October 3rd, was felt to be more than a little harsh!
They were, at least, successful in the Senior Cup although they did have to share the honours with Witney Town after a 1-1 draw and then a 2-2 deadlock after extra-time failed to separate them. In the second match City raced into an early lead through Andy Mitchell and Mick Holifield, but goals from Martin Prescott after 22 and 35 minutes pulled Witney back into the game, but “...there followed 85 minutes of pretty turgid stuff, and the prize was shared”.
Ron Humpston resigned on grounds of ill-health on May 4th and was promptly replaced by John Fisher, the Welsh Amateur International, who had played for City in the early 60s.
The EGM had voted to cut the size of the committee to 10 feeling that 18 might have been a reasonable number when four or five sides were being fielded, and crowds were in the region of 3000, but agreed that times had changed.
At the League’s Annual Meeting the question of two divisions was raised yet again. Back in September Hendon’s proposal for two divisions and a link with the Athenian League had been defeated by 15-5, and now Kingstonian’s suggestion for two divisions of sixteen was also given the thumbs-down. The league was expanded, however, with the addition of Walton & Hersham, Bishops Stortford and Hayes, though Maidstone United and Wealdstone both turned professional and joined the Southern League.
This ultimately disappointing and rather acrimonious season eventually closed with the second meeting of a strong Ex-City XI (including Maskell, Shippey, Bricknell, Howlett, Buswell, Slade among others) and a City XI on May 14th, the day after the death of a notable ex-City man from an earlier generation: Charlie Walters who had represented Oxford Boys when only 11, and gone on to win a Cup-Winner’s medal with Tottenham in 1921.

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