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© Chris Byrne 2010


After the collapse of Free Newspapers in May a cloud hung over the club through the close-season, but in late July a rescue package put forward by local businessmen Keith Rogers and Ray Elbro was accepted by the receivers and Les Goodchild became Chairman in place of Tony Rosser. There was considerable uncertainty still over the fate of The Folly, seen as vital to the prosperity of the Club, but optimistic plans were put forward to resurrect the all-weather pitch scheme, and the City Club was to be reopened as soon as possible.
There were not many changes to the squad, although Keith Durham had moved on to Wycombe and keeper Mark Teasdale signed for Gloucester City, and the performances in the pre-season friendlies were generally encouraging: including a 3-1 defeat by a strong Oxford United team that attracted nearly 750 watchers.
The first competitive match saw a defeat in the previous season’s Wallspan Floodlit Cup Quarter-Final, but a 3-0 win in the first league clash brought three points from a visit to Tilbury and another three goals the following Tuesday produced a win against new-boys Bracknell Town.
Unfortunately there was a gap of more than a month before the next victory and in the meantime the FA Cup trail had finished with a defeat at Fareham, and Tilbury had beaten them in an ill-tempered match in the AC Delco Cup – replayed later as Tilbury had had an ineligible player: City still lost!
Cashflow was still a problem and both John Burn and Jimmy Walters were released, joining Chippenham Town, “...for financial reasons.” Nick Dawson joined Isthmian rivals Hungerford Town who had recently signed Ian Botham and Viv Richards (a footballing international for Antigua, as well as a world-class cricketer) in their centenary year: Steve Dixon was chosen for an Isthmian XI against Hungerford as part of their celebrations.


Local players were featuring more and more as financial belts were tightened, and five ex-Peers School players were now appearing in the 1st XI: Paul Bradbury, Paul Creed, Steve Dixon, Paul Richardson and Mark Simpson. And City player Peter Arch, a P.E. teacher at Peers, appeared on national television - on Blind Date!
The Reserves were having another successful season, and an exceptionally strong Youth team was doing particularly well in the County Youth League running up some remarkable scores (26-0 v Crusaders; 13-0 v Bicester Town, and 12-0 and 22-0 in the two matches v Long Wittenham) and progressing in the FA Youth Cup with wins against Rushden Town and Banbury United.
Though October had started well enough with a 3-1 FA Trophy win against Leytonstone/Ilford and a remarkable 7-1 league trouncing of Finchley, results fell away and the month ended on the back of four successive defeats. And off the pitch the month brought worrying news that a large property development company had put in a bid for the lease to Brasenose and had even been seen “...measuring up at the White House.” City finally signed contracts for the leases, which had 14 years to run, with Peat Marwick (the receivers) at the end of October.
Dismissal from the FA Trophy came in November at Cambridge City after a draw at the White House (a game that saw Julian Dark make his 1st XI debut) and the Youth were finally beaten in the First Round Proper of the FA competition at Exeter City.
The 1st XI were slipping towards the relegation zone in the league, a situation relieved slightly by a double over Boreham Wood and a narrow win at Epsom & Ewell in the last game of 1986. The reserves finished the year well though with an Intermediate Cup win over Headington Amateurs, and a 3-1 defeat of previously unbeaten Witney in the Combination taking them to second place.
Steve Jenkins scored in the New Years Day 3-3 draw with Uxbridge on his return from Sweden – and then went for a week’s trial at Exeter City. The month saw only one more point gained and Ian Rundle resigned at the end of the month, as did his assistant Andy Lyne. Trevor Spindler took over as caretaker and oversaw Shaun Bradbury and Steve Jenkins both scoring hat-tricks against Lewes in the next game.
In the on-going drama off the field Brasenose College had now repossessed The Folly, which had a separate lease. This was, they claimed, because, firstly, City had fallen into arrears with payments, and secondly because they had closed the pub – a decision forced upon them by the receivers. The Club took the College to the High Court to contest the repossession but eventually had to throw in the towel as the escalating costs of continuing the process over several months became prohibitive: “…we can’t afford to run a football club and a court case.”
Trevor Spindler, youth team manager Paul Holden and Peter Foley were among the applicants for the managerial hot-seat but, after three weeks of uncertainty, ex-Oxford United (and City) player Davy Jones joined from Hungerford with Steve Morton as his assistant. Results took a turn for the better with two wins and two draws in the next five league matches, which was just as well as City were still only just ahead of the relegation spots and all the teams below them had games in hand. Osberton Radiators were beaten 5-0 in the Senior Cup, thanks to (yet) another Jenkins hat-trick to set up another meeting with Oxford United in the semi-final.
With the court case just finished another money problem arrived as the Club were told they needed to carry out a number of (costly) improvements on the ground for it to reach a suitable grading for them to be allowed to continue in the division the following season. £8500 were needed for work on the Abingdon Road wall; a walkway behind the goal at the Abingdon Road end; a ‘player protection barrier’ between the changing rooms and the pitch; and urinals in the changing rooms.
Good news arrived with the Reserves beating Witney in the Combination League Cup and Aylesbury United Reserves in the B&W Cup; and the outstanding Youth XI picking up five different cups and trophies.
As April finished and Oxford United gained revenge for the previous year by winning the Senior Cup Semi-Final 2-1 at The Manor it became clear that the uncertainty about relegation was going to continue to the very end of the season. Maidenhead and Finchley were already down, but, depending on results, any two out of Tilbury, Oxford City, Walton & Hersham and Epsom & Ewell could be relegated as well. City had to play at Walton & Hersham and a defeat for either side would condemn them to Second Division football the following season. At the end of a nervous afternoon an (apparently) tedious 0-0 draw in City’s game meant all four sides finished on 43 points and goal difference determined Tilbury and Epsom & Ewell made up the last two relegation spots.
So a suitably dramatic end to a worrying season, though Keith Rogers was moved to tell the press that “…the Club is solvent now, and though we’ve had a few problems this season they are behind us now and we can look forward to the future which looks very good.”

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