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© Chris Byrne 2010


In April 2013 the information was released – after much behind-the-scenes discussion – that an American businessman, Thomas Anthony Guerriero, had become a director of Oxford City FC and had accepted the position of club President. The news had a somewhat mixed reception among the supporters with concern about what this transatlantic link-up would produce for the Club. Pronouncements from the US were certainly very positive, with the intimation that the long-term plan would see City move further up the Pyramid. Supporters, with their eyes more firmly on the coming season’s fortunes, were more interested in the composition of Mike Ford’s new squad, as there were several strong additions to the previous season’s team. Fans-favourite Felipe Barcelos had moved abroad and Nick Stanley looked for more local football. However, Tom Winters was poached from Brackley Town, and a proven goal-scorer, Mike Symons, joined from Worcester City. Victor Francoz, a French goalkeeper, was produced by the U.S.-inspired trials and joined Mark Scott, from Salisbury City, to do battle for the #1 shirt.
There was a tremendous 5-1 win in the friendly against Oxford United as well as a 1-1 draw with a good Wycombe Wanderers side. In fact the pre-seasons produced some solid performances, and the only defeat came at Southern League, and historical Isthmian rivals, Chesham United.
The season-proper, however, got off to one of the worst starts for many years with City having to wait until their tenth league match before a victory, over Stalybridge Celtic, was recorded.
This win, more encouragingly, was bracketed by two wins in the FA Cup. The first a rather dour 1-0 home victory against old Isthmian rivals Maidenhead United; the second an exciting 3-2 victory at eventual Conference South champions Eastleigh.
City’s luck ran out in the next round though when the long journey to Kent saw them unable to match their third Conference South opponents of the year’s competition with the tie ending in a comfortable win for Dover Athletic.
Involvement in the FA Trophy ended at the first hurdle three weeks later when, despite having much of the play and several clear-cut chances, City were beaten 2-1 at old rivals Hendon of the Isthmian Premier.
Supporters were cheered when the next home league game produced the biggest home gate of the season for the visit of Stockport County, many people’s favourites for a quick return to Step 1. City were not overawed by the appearance at Marsh Lane of a club that as recently as the 2008/9 season had been in League One, and a strong performance produced a 4-1 win – a result that would prove to be their best of the season.


Michael Pook, signed from Maidenhead towards the end of October, and with Football League experience at Swindon and Cheltenham, proved to be a strong signing in the midfield, and Kayden Jackson, brought in on loan from Swindon by Mike Ford in November, initially looked a possible answer to City’s general lack of fire-power as he scored in his first three games and clearly had the pace to worry opponents, but unfortunately he found the net rather more sporadically in later games. However several other imports came and went after showing that, at this level, they were not going to prove to be the answer to City’s continuing bumpy ride through the season.
The period from the end of November to the New Year brought some positive results with wins against Vauxhall Motors, Gloucester City and Worcester City. However, the three points from the Worcester match would be forfeited later in the season when it transpired that City had included a suspended player, Liam Malone, in their line-up: a costly error as the season’s final table would show.
The New Year saw a downturn in results and, though the side did, after several nervous moments and extra-time, see off a depleted Banbury United side 6-2 in the Oxfordshire Senior Cup, they had to wait until mid-March for another league victory: 2-1 against fellow strugglers Histon.
The Scott/Francoz competition for the keeper’s jersey continued into January when it was decided in favour of Mark Scott as Francoz badly injured his leg when toppling from a tree when saving a cat. Mike Ford was not amused by the accident, and his problems were increased when Scott was injured a few weeks later and the manager had to work quickly to obtain Matt Bulman on loan from Forest Green Rovers.
City had dropped back into the relegation zone after the home defeat by surprise championship candidates North Ferriby in mid-January, and stayed there for twelve games until late March when gritty performances saw them take eleven points from five games and rise to nineteenth leaving Workington, Histon and Stalybridge in the danger zone. By now, however, Vauxhall Motors had made it known that they would withdraw from the Conference at the end of the season and Dennis Strudwick, General Manager of the Conference, stated that this would mean that only two teams would be relegated from Conference (Skrill) North.
However, yet another backlog of fixtures for City found them unable to maintain this late-season upturn in performance, and only one point was taken from the last five games, allowing Stalybridge to leapfrog them on the last day of the season putting City back in twentieth position.
Amongst the nine league games played in April City also had to squeeze in a thrice-postponed Senior Cup semi-final against Ardley United: a mix of squad players and youth lost 2-0 to the strong Hellenic side.
Chris Fontaine’s Nomads team had a rather more mixed season in the Hellenic Premier than in the previous campaign. They got off to a fine start, scoring twenty-nine goals in their first ten league games, but stuttered rather in mid-season before rediscovering their goal-scoring touch in February/March with a vengeance with a 12-0 demolition of Cheltenham Saracens and a 9-1 thumping of Newbury. Another dip in form towards the season’s end saw them slip to ninth in the final table, but as the fourth highest scorers in the league with ninety-seven goals.
Finishing fourth the previous season meant they entered the FA Vase at the First Round stage and they got past a tricky away tie at Wessex League Hamworthy United with the only goal of the game. They were unable to repeat this performance in Round Two when, drawn away again to another Wessex League side, the fell 2-0 to Blackfield & Langley.
They were unable to retain the League Cup, losing at the first stage to Highworth Town, but having gone out of this competition early on, they, by way of consolation, made it through to the semi-finals of the Supplementary Cup before losing to Bracknell Town.
An Oxford City Nomads Development side made its debut in Division Two of the Hellenic League and had a very promising first season, finishing fourth (out of twelve) and netting seventy-five goals in just twenty-two fixtures.
As the on-field dust settled on a troubled season, Mike Ford’s very successful six-year tenure of the managership was brought to an end as the committee decided that it needed some new blood to try and reinvigorate its performances at Step Two. Ford had been manager for longer than most of his recent predecessors and had taken the side to the First Round of the FA Cup twice and elevated the Club to its highest position in non-league football since the start of the Pyramid. The committee took some time over their appointment of a successor from a reportedly large field of candidates before announcing former manager Justin Merritt as the new man at the helm with Enrique Guillen as head coach.
The new manager was immediately faced with problems as Hayes and Yeading (Conference South) appealed against their relegation to Step Three with the argument that, with more points than City, they should remain at Step Two and City should move down. This prolonged appeal meant the new manager would find it difficult searching for players as long as uncertainty remained over which league City would be playing in. It was not until June 6th that Hayes & Yeading’s appeal was finally dismissed and Merritt could get down to the vital business of putting a squad together.

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