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© Chris Byrne 2010


Servowarm had announced that they would be withdrawing their sponsorship at the end of the 84-5 season and, after some initial concern about a successor, a deal was agreed with automotive giants Vauxhall-Opel and, after eighty years, the name Isthmian would, officially at least, disappear from the league’s title. The transport theme extended to the league cup as well, it becoming the AC Delco Cup.
The pre-season friendlies were encouraging, with Hellenic sides Didcot and Abingdon Town being beaten convincingly.
The Reserves continued in the Southern Combination, got off to their usual strong start and kept up a 100% record into October. The Youth team in the County Youth League were producing similarly excellent results.
The national cup competitions began early and a win at St Albans in the FA Trophy and a crushing 7-2 win over Malvern Town in the FA Cup were already under the club’s belt before the second week in September, and although there was a loss at Grays in the league, results were among the best for many years.
Good runs were being put together in both national competitions. Gosport Borough and then Poole Town were brushed aside in the FA Cup and Aveley were beaten in the Trophy, and many fans of long standing put the upturn in fortunes down to the club reverting to the famous blue-and-white hoops after several seasons of shirts of a non-hooped nature!
The end of October saw City through to the Fourth Qualifying Round of the FA Cup for the first time in fourteen seasons and given a tricky tie at Isthmian Premier team Windsor & Eton, two goals from Steve Dixon giving City a lead they kept until their hosts equalised with just five minutes remaining.


A young Colin Fleet stood by to take over from Mick Teasdale in goal for the replay, but the first-choice keeper shrugged off injury to play the following Tuesday in front of 909 fans: the best White House crowd for more than a decade. Unfortunately a slip by Teasdale at a corner on twenty minutes gave the Premier side a lead that they clung onto despite a furious barrage from City as the game wore on, and Torquay United travelled to Stag Meadow rather than the White House in the First Round.
The following Saturday the gloom deepened after the trip to Corby Town in the FA Trophy saw City routed 6-1 by a side that “...outplayed them in all departments”.
The team bounced back from these disappointments quickly, though, and results up to the end of the year were strong. League leaders Leatherhead were beaten, as were Premier side Walthamstow Avenue (4-1) in the AC Delco Cup. The renewal of interest that had come with the cup run did not continue, however, and only 96 watched the home defeat by Chesham on Boxing Day. Still, this was only the third league defeat of the season and the team finished the year in 10th position with games in hand over most sides above them. The Reserves also continued to play well and were undefeated until the middle of December.
Despite the ever-present doubts about the Club’s financial security, Tony Rosser was pressing ahead with the plans for laying an all-weather pitch costing something of the order of £250000 and there appeared to be confidence that planning permission and monetary help would be forthcoming from the City Council.
With few points covering several sides, good wins in January took City up to third in the league and confidence on the field was high, but the momentum that had been building disappeared as winter weather took a toll on fixtures in a very snowy February.
Oxford United returned to the Oxfordshire Senior Cup for the first time in twenty years, and demolished Morris Motors, the holders, 10-1 in their first game, and they and City were among the sides ‘seeded’ to the Quarter Finals. The ‘bad news’, however, was that, as it had not been itemised on the insurance schedule, the Club found themselves liable for the full £7500 cost of replacing the Senior Cup that had been stolen from the boardroom a year previously. It was hoped that a friendly against QPR (now managed by Jim Smith) or a Ron Atkinson XI might help cover the cost.
March opened with rumours of a massive cash collapse in the company that owned the Club. The supporters’ City Club was closed by Tony Rosser; ex-chairman Ray Barlow resigned as a director in protest against the absence of meetings and consultation; and the plans for the all-weather pitch were scrapped after claims that landlords Brasenose College were not in favour of the idea (a fact which was denied by the College.)
After several postponements the Senior Cup Quarter Final was played at Bicester in mid-March on a Saturday at the County’s insistence, much to City’s annoyance as it meant postponing yet another league match: and they still had thirteen to play! A comfortable 5-0 win, though, saw them through to the semi-finals, and a home tie with Oxford United.
Wins continued in the league keeping the pressure on front-runners Wembley and St Albans, and the Reserves, in addition to good league results, fought their way through to the League Cup Final with a nail-biting 6-5 aggregate win over Hitchin Town Reserves.
With the lighter evenings in April 1st XI kick-offs were pushed back to 3.30 so that fans could have a drink immediately after the end of the match as magistrates had turned down an application for a special licence to permit the early opening of The Folly.
Interest in the City v United clash was high and more than seven hundred turned out to see goals from Phil New and Mark Simpson give City a win against a United side that contained eight first-teamers.
The league season was heading for a tense finish and a 2-0 win at Leyton-Wingate took City briefly into second position going into the last week in April, but a home defeat to fellow challengers Hampton dropped them back to fourth and meant that results elsewhere would need to go their way even if they won their final match of the season. And May 3rd saw the season close with an ultimately disappointing 0-0 draw at Tilbury and victories for St Albans and Bromley giving them promotion.
The Reserves too suffered end-of-season disappointment when they lost 2-1 to Witney United Reserves at Kenilworth Road in their League Cup Final – but at least they were watched by close on 10000 fans as the game preceded Luton Town’s home game! And Witney also put them out of the Intermediate Cup at the semi-final stage by the same score.
At least the season finished on a positive note for the 1st XI when they edged out Witney in the Senior Cup Final by the odd goal in three in extra-time, though even this success was slightly soured by the County F.A. not allowing City to take the cup back to the White House “…because of the uncertainty over City’s future” in the light of Free Newspapers going into receivership the previous week.

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