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© Chris Byrne 2010


The new season brought with it a welcome return to the Premier Division and another new sponsor, the paint manufacturers Berger, who kept much the same format for the system of bonuses as Rothmans had introduced. Clubs now started with twelve ‘sportsmanship points’ but were in danger of losing six points for a ‘straight red’.
Pre-season friendlies produced a mixed-bag of results with wins against a Reading XI and Alcester Town (from the Midland Combination) offset by a 2-0 defeat at Alvechurch and a heavy reverse, 1-5, at Hellenic League Newbury Town.
There were few changes in personnel from the side that had won promotion and the league season started with a respectable 0-0 draw at Hendon. Two home wins followed, including a nail-biting recovery to beat Tooting & Mitcham 4-3 after trailing 3-1. Results fell away after that though and several injuries made team selection difficult, although back-to-back wins against Kingstonian and Leytonstone brought a positive end to September.
September saw a good win at Southern League Burton Albion in the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup, but hopes of a much-needed money-spinning run in the cup disappeared in the next round when Midland Combination champions Sutton Coldfield scored three without reply at the White House.
October brought with it a disappointing run of league defeats, punctuated by an encouraging 3-0 win in the FA Trophy at Welsh Premier side Ton Pentre; and another home defeat, to a poor Boreham Wood side at the start of November, brought an uncharacteristically public complaint from Geoff Denial that there were too many players showing a lack of effort and determination. Fortunately the team rose to the occasion the following week when an Andy Sinnott goal was sufficient to beat Southall in the next round of the Trophy, but they had to wait until the final league match of the month to record their first three-pointer in eight games.


A 6-1 defeat at Dagenham saw another early departure from the League Cup, and a 1-4 defeat in a lacklustre home performance against Kidderminster in the first match of December ended City’s involvement in the FA Trophy.
The end of the year saw John Woodley return to the side after a four month injury-linked absence and promptly score the only goal of the match against third-placed Hendon, but, on the negative side, Mark Boyland, one of the two professionals on City’s books, was put on the transfer list after disagreements with the Manager. Christmas passed with the Reserves heading the Senior League by eight points from champions Woodstock Town, but they had played six games more than the challengers, and the Senior Cup campaign began with a 4-0 win over Salesians.
Much of January’s football was disrupted by heavy snow and penetrating nightly frosts and the First XI didn’t get back to league action until early February when a 3-0 home victory over Carshalton brought them a rare ‘goal bonus’. The Reserves were harder hit by the weather and their 4-1 loss to second-placed Woodstock in mid-February was their first game for six weeks, but they bounced from this reverse to overcome Bicester Town 2-1 the following week to take their place in the Senior Cup semi-finals. The poor weather also prompted the abandonment of the Professional Cup and the Benevolent Cup for the season. The introduction of a Miss Oxford City competition, won by John Lever’s wife, Joanna, was a hit with supporters, and she narrowly failed to win ‘league recognition’ at the end of the season final at Harrow when the Misses Slough, Tring and Kingstonian took the honours!
March again brought mixed fortunes both on and off the field. An exciting 3-2 home win against Dulwich Hamlet and a praiseworthy draw with champions Enfield cheered the supporters, though, unknown to them at that point, the season was to fall away badly; whilst a booking in the Dulwich game lost the last of the ‘sportsmanship points’ for the season. Off the field Peter Dallaway’s surprise transfer to Witney brought the club a much needed £3000, and a new ‘Green Shield Stamp’ backed lottery that promised to be a money-spinner was launched. The Reserves still headed the Senior League at the end of the month, but they lost a bad-tempered Senior Cup semi-final by a single goal to Chipping Norton after Martin Allen had been red-carded: he was subsequently suspended for the rest of the season. Ray Barlow announced that he would step down as Chairman at the AGM, and a poorly attended meeting produced a statement from the committee that they might resign en-bloc in the summer unless more interest was shown in the club.
April came and went without a victory for the First XI, and the season ground to a close when with six regulars missing; in front of a Tuesday night gate of 80; and after their longest trek of the season, City lost a tenth successive match, 3-2 at Tilbury. The Reserves saw their slim chances of the Senior League championship evaporate when they lost 0-1 at home to Woodstock Town who then went on to put their games in hand to good use and overtake City to claim a second successive title.
A Whitsun tour took the club, along with fellow Isthmian Leaguers Walthamstow Avenue, to Belgium where they won the tournament hosted by Ghent, lifting the gloom a little at the end of a somewhat disappointing season.
Meanwhile Oxford United were excited with their signing of two local youngsters who had been impressing many clubs with their exploits, and who would both manage the City almost two decades later: they were Andy Thomas and Kevin Brock.

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