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© Chris Byrne 2010


Although Rothmans had departed other sponsors were found for the league including Radio Luxembourg. Further expansion in the league meant that there were now three divisions. The First Division became the Premier Division; the Second became the First; and the new Second Division was made up of the clubs from the disbanded Athenian League along with Metropolitan Police who had transferred from the Southern League.
Reflecting the changing times the club appointed a Commercial Manager, Roger Bunce, for the first time and he was quick to seek further ways to improve the financial viability of the club which had seen a drop of around £1000 associated with relegation.
Peter Dallaway joined Mark Boyland as the second contracted player and there were generally few changes to the squad.
Despite losing their first home match 0-1 to St Albans, the 1st XI got off to a steady start in the league and by the end of September were sitting third in the division just outside the promotion positions, although, on the minus side, they were losing ‘sportsmanship points’ steadily.
The Reserves started well in the Oxfordshire Senior League and were second, behind Woodstock Town, at the end of September.
City were drawn away against Fareham Town in the FA Trophy, drew 1-1 in Hampshire, and were held 2-2 at the White House in the replay. Given the choice of the toss of a coin for who hosted the second replay, or agreeing to a neutral venue, Geoff Denial chose the latter, concerned that if Fareham won the toss the match would have to start early because of their lack of floodlights, and he could have to field a depleted side. Basingstoke was the chosen venue and City seemed to have the match comfortably under control when, with just twenty minutes remaining, they lead 3-1 but relaxed too soon and Fareham scored three times to steal the tie.


Progress was better in the FA Cup with a comfortable 2-0 home win over unknown quantities Racing Club Warwick getting them underway. Another club new to the White House, Southern League Bromsgrove Rovers, were drawn in the Second Qualifying Round and a close match saw goals from Bob Green and Peter Dallaway set up a local derby at Banbury in the next round. It was thirteen years since the near-neighbours had met in the competition and in a typically tight encounter it was Banbury who earned a trip to Bideford with the only goal of the game just four minutes from time.
City again entered the Shaw & Kilburn Floodlit league and used it, as did most of the other teams taking part, to try out young and reserve team players. Results were mixed but involvement did allow Geoff Denial to see players he might otherwise have missed.
League results continued to be impressive and it was fitting that the home match against Corinthian-Casuals in November should see City become joint leaders as it was John Woodley’s 850th game for the club, and he scored his 442nd goal – another penalty – in a 3-1 win.
December was not the best of months when successive defeats against Hertford and Horsham pushed City down into fourth place behind Dulwich Hamlet, Bromley and Wokingham, and Bromley comfortably won the top-of-the-table clash at Hayes Lane on New Year’s Eve 4-1. High-fliers Wokingham also put City out of the League Cup, sponsored this year by Hitachi.
The New Year began with fixture cancellations producing an unwanted break in the league programme that saw City slip to seventh position, though with games in hand, and they bounced back with a resounding 5-0 victory at Finchley – their biggest away success for over six years – and a 5-0 home win over Ware the following Saturday. These results and the 3-1 must-win match at home to Bromley at the start of February saw City begin to climb again. The Bromley match was attended by F.A. Chairman Sir Harold Thompson who made a presentation to John Woodley to celebrate his remarkable number of appearances for the club, and the Isthmian League would also mark his achievements at the Annual Dinner in July.
As March began it was clear that Dulwich Hamlet were, bar a string of upsets, going to head the division and that City or Bromley were the most likely to occupy the other promotion position – and neither side seemed able to put together a good enough run of results to make second place a certainty.
At the start of April when City slipped to a 2-1 home defeat to Hertford Town they were still in second position, but Bromley were only three points behind and with two games in hand. By the middle of the month a 2-0 reverse at Walton & Hersham, on the fringe of the promotion battle themselves, pushed City into third position one point behind Bromley who had played a game fewer. Bromley showed the greater end-of-season nerves, though, only picking up four points from their last three matches, and City, having edged a tense affair at home to Hampton by a single goal, visited Harlow for their final match needing a win. Nick Sargent and Peter Dallaway scored first-half goals and, though Harlow pulled one goal back, City clung on for the victory and celebrated a return to the top division after a two season absence.
Between these two league matches City played at Banbury in the Professional Cup final and their thoughts were clearly elsewhere as they went down 2-0.
The Reserves’ league season was again very satisfactory with the blend of youth and experience working well and they led the Senior League during January, finally finishing third behind Woodstock Town and Headington Amateurs. The Reserves were the only non-Hellenic side in the semi-finals of the Senior Cup but lost, as they had in the previous year’s final, to Chipping Norton, 2-3, who went on to beat Thame United in the final.
Though away from Oxford continuing their studies, two of City’s Youth ‘products’ were doing well. Chris Rose and Ford Ennals represented English and Welsh Universities respectively, and Ford captained British Universities in West Germany.
‘Mac’ McGowan, though no longer a committee man, still involved himself with the Club and was busy writing a booklet entitled “On Tour With Oxford City”, serialised the following season in the programme
Locally the final curtain came down on the Oxfordshire Thursday F.A. that, in the days before floodlights, had been the provider of mid-week football for the county and had overseen matches with large crowds turning out to watch the likes of Bobby Charlton and others when, on National Service, they had played for local sides.

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