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OXFORD CITY FC - HISTORY & STATISTICS

© Chris Byrne 2010

1979-1980

Ray Barlow stepped down as expected at the AGM in July, as, more surprisingly, did President Jim Bailey, but the biggest surprise was the announcement that the club was to become a limited company. Although a profit of almost £2000 had been made in the previous season, compared with a loss of £1000 in 77-8, the state of the finances was still a matter for considerable concern and registering the club as a company would protect the members of the committee should there be a collapse. The Club stated initially that it would put up 1000 ordinary shares and offer them to members at £1 each: the change finally occurring at the beginning of October with a Board of Directors replacing the old Committee. Terry Wellstood (Chairman), Joe Tompkins (President), Ray Barlow, Margaret Parry and Rob Holt were the Executive Directors, and it was decided that another seven ‘Working Directors’ would be appointed. Concerns were voiced that this might lead to a ‘two-tier’ Board, but this was denied by Terry Wellstood. 5000 £1 shares (see bottom of page) were made available, 2250 of these being picked up immediately, and it was agreed that no family would be allowed more than 30% of the total share issue.
Banbury United snapped up Andy Glass, Martin Allen and Mark Boyland just prior to the start of the season, while several players arrived at the White House from local clubs, most notably Alan Jefferies, the son of former City and Brentford keeper Alf Jefferies, who joined the club as player-coach, and, along with Nick Sargent and Dave Ounsworth, was given a contract: he was also quickly appointed as First XI captain. Barry Sutch was appointed as Geoff Denial’s assistant and City stalwart Nick Brown became Reserve Team manager. John Woodley, though, was talking about retiring, but, though he was now not part of Geoff Denial’s First XI plans, promised to help out if needed.
The pre-season friendlies were disappointing: home defeats by Walthamstow, Chesham and a strong Bristol City side, and a draw at Thame United. The league season started brightly, however, with draws against Hitchin and Slough and the 2-1 defeat of Tooting & Mitcham: a false dawn as things transpired. The goals dried up, and it was more than 400 minutes later that Nick Sargent, hastily ‘converted’ to a forward, scored the team’s next goal in a 2-3 home reverse to Hayes: a fifth consecutive loss.

1979-80

The Reserves, however, got off to a cracking start in the Senior League and by the end of September had won six of their eight league matches and drawn the other two.
The lack of a reliable goalscorer was proving a difficult problem to overcome. Local sides were watched and the club put in a bid to Witney Town for the return of Peter Dallaway but this was dismissed out of hand by Bill Foulkes, ex- Busby Babe, the Witney manager.
The FA Cup trail began with a tie against Bridgend Town, who would go on to win the Southern League Midland Division, but after a goal-less encounter at the White House a “...disgraceful” performance in South Wales the following Tuesday saw City outclassed and beaten 5-2. The gloom around the club was deepened by the report of the death of ‘Mac’ McGowan, for so long a part of the City and Isthmian League scene, while on holiday in Spain.
Geoff Denial made wholesale changes for the next matches and John Woodley played his 900th game for the club in the 2-1 victory over Boreham Wood on September 26th – the team’s second victory of the season.
The struggle continued, and though another Trophy win, 1-0 against Salisbury, and the season’s fourth league victory momentarily lifted morale, news that the club had the worst disciplinary record in the Premier Division (17 points lost already) reflected the difficulties that were being experienced.
Geoff Denial was given the backing of the new Board on October 8th but results continued to be poor and it wasn’t until late in the month that the team notched another league victory, their third. There was a narrow win in the FA Trophy against a poor Kings Lynn side, but this was followed by yet another first round loss in the Hitachi Cup – 0-3 against Sutton United. The Reserves, however, were keeping the City flag flying, and were still unbeaten and topped the league ahead of Haddenham at the close of the month.
At the start of November Geoff Denial took a ‘two week break from his duties’ with Nick Brown and Ray Barlow taking charge of training and team selection. He would remain with the club as a Scout ... but this effectively marked the end of his time in the manager’s post. A 1-0 Trophy win over Salisbury, an away league victory at Croydon and a catastrophic 5-1 reverse at Tooting & Mitcham lead up to one of the most momentous days in City’s history. On November 23rd it was announced that Free Newspapers Ltd., owned by local businessman Tony Rosser, had taken over the club with a 76.4% holding of shares. This came as a shock to many remembering the statement a few months earlier that no one family would be able to purchase more than 30% of the available shares ... but perhaps it had not been foreseen that a company might try to obtain a controlling interest. A statement from the company said, “... we would like to see City getting back to the top and we want to provide entertainment for the people. We want City to be a success again. This is a new approach to the problems of running a football club and it leaves the way open for a commercial approach that has not been seen in this country before.” Les Goodchild became Managing Director with immediate effect, and it was hoped the changes would proceed smoothly.
A long trek to Boston, of the Midland League, in the Trophy saw City play well and dominate for long periods but eventually go out of the competition by the odd goal in five. Back in the boardroom moves were afoot to appoint a ‘big name’ as manager and household names such as Malcolm Macdonald, Bobby Moore, Mike Summerbee and Tommy Smith were doing the rounds. All was not calm behind the scenes, though, and Terry Wellstood and Joe Tompkins both resigned saying they were “...being kept in the dark by the new owners”. Although Joe Tompkins withdrew his resignation as President, Tony Rosser added City to his chairmanships.
The speculation ended on December 12th with the announcement that Bobby Moore had accepted the appointment, saying that “... it won’t do me any harm to start my managerial career at the bottom,” although Nick Brown continued to select the team for the next fortnight to give the new manager time to see his players in action. Bobby Moore finally picked his first team for the traditional Boxing Day derby with Wycombe Wanderers, though he would have been less than happy with the outcome: a 0-5 defeat in front of a 700+ crowd at the White House.
The turn of the year saw considerable activity in the transfer market with the new manager trying to avoid relegation. Peter Dallaway returned from Witney Town and Phil Beal, the ex-Tottenham player, was the first of a number of high-profile signings. Harry Redknapp was helping Moore with finding suitable players, initially on an occasional basis, and hardly a week went by without another debutant meaning that by February 33 different players had featured in the 1st XI. Although there were some good results there was little consistency and as February came to an end and City slipped to bottom position John Woodley finally called it a day after 906 games. Though all was not well with the senior team on the field the new floodlights were erected; the Supporters Club and Football Club finally buried the hatchet and merged; and the Reserves were having another exciting campaign in the Senior League heading the table for most of the season until Haddenham overtook them at the end of the month.
Progress was at least being made in the local cup competitions during this time. Morris Motors, Chipping Norton and Banbury United were beaten in the Senior Cup to take the side through to face Peppard Sports in the final. Banbury were the opponents in the semi-final of the Benevolent Cup as well and were ejected from the competition after failing to agree a replay date with City after a 1-1 draw in the first meeting.
Into April and some better performances gave City some hope, but a disappointing loss at fellow-strugglers Carshalton meant safety from relegation would depend on other teams’ results and the disciplined 4-0 defeat of Hayes in the league season’s last game was, by then, academic: City were down.
The club met with mixed fortunes in the cup finals. A Paul Lee goal was sufficient to win the Benevolent Cup against Witney Town, but a “...dreadful” performance in the Senior Cup Final saw Reading & District League Peppard Sports triumph 3-0 to take the trophy for the first time.
A 2-1 victory at Haddenham allowed the Reserves to regain the leadership of the Senior League and they finally completed the season with only two losses and claimed the championship that had just eluded them in the previous two seasons.
The final football at the White House was on May 5th when a crowd of around 800 was present to pay tribute to John Woodley, playing alongside Bobby Moore at the heart of the defence, in his testimonial match against Oxford United. A strong United side ran out 4-0 victors but the evening belonged to John Woodley – a fitting conclusion to over twenty years’ dedication to just the one club.

OCFC share certificate

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