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© Chris Byrne 2010


The loss of several players in the close season, including Mick Ramsden, Bob McRea and Paul Lee (to Hereford United) posed problems for John Fisher at the start of the season and it was clear that the emerging youth players would play an increasing part in the 1st XI.
A 2-2 draw against Ilford at the White House in the first match was seen as a steady beginning but, five games later, with 24 goals having been conceded and that first-day point still the only point, it was evident that this was going to be a difficult season. New players were tried but were unable to spark an improvement.
Changes were afoot off the field as well with Ray Barlow taking on the Chairmanship and John Shepherd becoming Press Secretary. The committee, with energetic help from a few volunteers, was trying hard to improve amenities – a new press-box was commissioned; and the railings outside the ground were repainted (after complaints from local residents!) But with little money and apparent apathy from the supporters - only 16 turned out for the sponsored walk - it was difficult to see how matters could be improved.
League results continued to be poor, but perhaps a cup-run would raise morale. For the first time for six years City would have to fight through the Qualifying Rounds. They began with a hard-fought draw at Aylesbury and a good crowd of nearly 500 saw them go through 3-0 in the replay to meet Hellenic champions Witney Town for the first time in the FA Cup for over a decade. City were never in the game, Witney ran out 4-0 winners at the White House and when, on the following Monday, Wycombe Wanderers were the visitors in a league match and coasted to an 8-0 win, John Fisher decided he had done all he could and stood down as manager.
These results and Fisher’s resignation came at a bad time for the club as the Isthmian League was just announcing that they intended to go ‘open’ the following season and accept professional clubs into the league, and also allow ‘permit’ players. The local press were seriously questioning City’s ability to survive under these new conditions.


City appointed ex-Oxford United favourite Maurice Kyle as successor to John Fisher and, although they were all lost, it was felt that in the next three games the XI were beginning to show signs of improvement. Even so, City had sunk to the bottom of the league by mid-October with only four draws and eleven goals from twenty games, and it must have come as a great relief to all when finally, on the last day of October, a John Beasley goal ten minutes from the end of the home match against Hayes gave them their first league win of the season. The season’s second victory arrived in late November, 3-1 against perennial strugglers Clapton, but it was marred by the sending-off of Neil Hartigan.
The Premier Midweek Floodlit League was entered again and used by the Manager as a chance to give some of the promising Youth XI a taste of higher level football. Results were not strong and City finished second from bottom of their group, but several young players showed promise and Maurice Kyle himself played in some matches: the first ex-professional ‘permit’ player ever to represent the City. With attendances only just over the 100 mark in this competition the club decided it could not afford to continue in the league in 73-4 and applied to rejoin the Hellenic League.
Hopes rose in December with a 3-1 win over Corinthian-Casuals followed a week later by a victory in the First Round of the Amateur Cup over Woking. The Second Round drew City away at North Shields and a 1-0 defeat in front of a poor crowd coupled with the expense of travelling meant the Club felt badly done by.
At the end of February and beginning of March the team had its brightest spot of the year when they won three out of the four matches played to double their tally of victories for the season, and they finally finished ahead of Bromley, Clapton and Corinthian-Casuals. The last league game of the season saw them reach an unwanted landmark, however, when they conceded their 100th and 101st league goals. Not only had the club never let in as many goals in a season before, but they had only scored 30 goals, their lowest total for sixty years: future manager Andy Sinnott top-scored with nine.
This was a season to forget in local competitions as well. Although they had a fairly uneventful 4-1 win over Woodstock in the Second Round of the Senior Cup, they fell at the next hurdle by a single goal at Hellenic League Clanfield, who also beat them later in the season in the Smith Memorial Cup, 3-0, in what was seen to be the worst performance of a disastrous campaign.
Off the field the major concerns were the poor gates and how the team might fare the next season with the arrival of professional clubs in the league and the allowance of two ‘permit’ players per game. The ‘history’ and ‘high standing’ of the club had been sufficient in the past, but would the City be able to attract a good enough standard of player now?
One link with that ‘past’ had been lost during the season when goalkeeper Walter Keates, the last surviving member of the Amateur Cup winning team of 1906, died on November 4th

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