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© Chris Byrne 2010


With Maurice Kyle retaining most of his players, and bringing in Geoff Denial to assist him in place of Vic Mobley, City were looking to build on the promising improvements of the previous season.
Eventually only nine clubs, including City, went ‘open’ as the FA postponed for a further year the abolition of the amateur/professional distinction. Initially just five players signed professional forms for the club: Peter Harris, Alan Evans, Peter Dallaway plus the two new signings, Brendan Barr and Kevin Fagan; and the manager admitted it was difficult having both ‘types’ of player and was sure all would be glad when the change finally came.
The club and the Hellenic League were having their differences, with the league voting heavily in favour of not allowing the Reserves to play after the current season, wanting only senior sides in their Premier Division, which was at odds with the County FA accepting the Reserves for the Senior Cup.
The season started poorly with consecutive home losses against Leatherhead and Woking but was then put back on track with a fine win at Kingstonian.
The start of September saw the postponed match against an Isthmian League XI to celebrate ‘Mac’ McGowan’s long service to the club. The league brought a strong side, including four internationals, but were beaten 3-2 on the night in front of a hugely disappointing crowd of 81.


For the third successive season City were drawn at home against Witney in the FA Cup and improved on the previous years by disposing of their local rivals, 1-0 in a second replay. Between the first and second replay the club played its first ever FA Trophy match and easily overcame Southern League Milton Keynes City 4-0 in the Preliminary Round. Hopes were high for a good FA Cup run and, on paper, Second Division Chesham United should not have proved too tough a task, but Chesham were renowned cup fighters and eclipsed City 4-1. At least progress was made in the Trophy the following weekend when Uxbridge, then of the Second Division of the Athenian League, were beaten by an Eric Metcalfe goal.
On October 19th John Woodley reached another milestone in his remarkable career: the 3-1 victory against Bishops Stortford was his 700th match for the City. The match also saw another booking for a City player, the third of the season, matching the three ‘sportsmanship’ points lost the previous season. Not as bad as Clapton, though, who had already lost ten points and were warned by the League that, if they passed the 12 point mark, then they could expect to lose league points. The warning had little effect and they duly had league points docked. The FA were to overturn this deduction on a technicality later but the loophole was plugged for subsequent seasons.
Poor organisation saw City play seven successive away games through October and into November and lose five of them leaving them in 17th position with only fifteen goals after thirteen games.
Interest in the FA Trophy disappeared in November when Western League Devizes Town pulled off a surprise 1-0 win at the White House.
Finally, on the last day of November, City picked up their first ever goalscoring bonus when they beat Bromley 4-0, though under 200 saw them break their duck. The same day saw the Reserves crash 7-2 at Hungerford. Up to this point they had been performing steadily and won as many games as they had lost, including an exciting 6-4 win at Bicester Town, but that win was to prove the high point of the season.
As the year drew to a close the First XI had a rare victory at the White House, 2-0 against Kingstonian, but this, and the Bromley victory, were their only wins in eleven league encounters. At least the New Year brought some excitement when what was by now a bumper crowd of 1350 witnessed a single goal home defeat against Wycombe in Eric Metcalfe’s 450th game – and then a three week lay-off as the rains set in.
One match that did get played was the Reserves tie in the Senior Cup, and a close-fought encounter with Headington Amateurs produced a 1-1 draw. Unfortunately Maurice Kyle had not checked the fine-print on the rules and had given Kevin Fagan, straight back from his holiday, a run-out in this match, thinking that up to two professionals could be played by a club in any match. The regulations actually allowed up to two permit players – a subtle difference. So the Reserves were ejected from the competition and the match was awarded to Headington Amateurs.
Curiously the weather-enforced break was a turning point for the First XI and they put together a great run of twelve unbeaten league matches including their first bonus-winning away match, 3-0 at Bromley, and a terrific 6-0 rout of Walton & Hersham. The following week their run ended, 1-0 at Ilford, but John Woodley made another bit of personal history when he took over in goal after John West was injured and therefore represented the First XI in all eleven positions!
Though they lost 3-1 at Dulwich in the season’s final match, this was only their second loss in sixteen games and this excellent second-half to the season took them to eighth in the league: their best finish for ten years. Though performances were improving, attendances continued to fall alarmingly: only 94 saw the Walthamstow Avenue game, and the mid-week defeat of Hitchin was watched by a record low of 64.
The second half of the Reserve’s season was the exact opposite of the senior team’s as they only won one more match after the turn of the year and slipped steadily down the league to finish in penultimate place, and a 1-1 draw with Burnham at the White House on May 8th 1975 was the last match ever played by an Oxford City team in the Hellenic League.
There had been considerable discussion as to whether or not this would bring the curtain down on the Reserves again, but it was eventually decided that the next season would see a 15-16 man senior squad as well as a team entered in the Oxfordshire Senior League.
Locally City surprised many by winning the Oxfordshire Professional Cup for the first time when they overran Banbury United 5-0. They also gave a very good account of themselves at the Manor against a full-strength Oxford United side in the resurrected Benevolent Cup when they led 1-0 at half-time thanks to a Martin Gilligan goal, but eventually narrowly lost 2-1.
The ability to accept sponsorship had come as a real life-line to the club with its increasing monetary worries. Not only was the input from Rothmans helping, but other, local sources were being tapped: Morris Garages provided a minibus for the Reserves; companies and individuals sponsored the match-balls. And other ventures were in the pipeline for the following year: an Oxford City newspaper; prizes for the Man of the Match at each game ... and even a Miss Oxford City competition!

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