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© Chris Byrne 2010


Match programmes have been a part of the football scene for many years, the first was produced in the late 1880s, and for many supporters a visit to a match is somehow not quite complete without the purchase of a programme.
Some may give them just a cursory glance and then consign them to the bin; some will neatly enter the day’s team and scorers and keep them for posterity, while others may even buy two and keep one in pristine condition to be added to a prized collection.
They can vary enormously in style and content, from the professionally printed ‘Matchday Magazines’ of the larger clubs down to the single-sided basic team-sheet run off on the photocopier (much quicker than cranking them out on the Gestetner duplicator of forty-plus years ago!) of the smaller clubs. All of this is hugely dependent on the goodwill (and expertise) of the Programme Editor and, as with everything else in non-league football, the availability of funds.
Like all sporting memorabilia there is a ready market for the football programme and historic items will fetch correspondingly high prices - the record for a football programme is in excess of £20000.
Exactly when Oxford City first produced a programme is uncertain, but there exists a single sheet listing the teams for the FA Cup match against Lincoln City in 1902, and, slightly later, a small booklet-style programme from the 1903-04 season. As the Twentieth Century moved on so more was gradually included in the programme, and the designs became more colourful and eye-catching.
(Even) Oxford City programmes can be a worthwhile investment - though you may have to wait a long time to see a good return on your investment. In August 2010 a copy of the programme for the South Bank v Oxford City Amateur Cup Final fetched £1700 at auction!

This one-page sheet is the earliest known programme issued by Oxford City FC.  (If you know of an earlier one do let us know!)
Although it was the sixth season in which they had entered the competition, the 1901/02 season was the first in which the Club had a run in the 'English Cup' (as the FA Cup was usually called in the early days). In fact, before this season, only one match had been won in the competition.
Aylesbury United were beaten 4-0 in the Third Qualifying Round, then Wycombe Wanderers 5-2 and Shepherds Bush 3-1. City were drawn against New Brighton Tower of Division Two in the Intermediate Round, but, as the Wirral team had already folded, they had a walk-over into Round One (the last 32 in those days) and were drawn at home to Lincoln City.
The White House Ground was prepared for the occasion. It was by far the most important game to date for City. An enclosure was erected, and there were some numbered and reserved seats. The standard admission charge was 6d (2.5p), with an extra 6d for the enclosure and 1s (5p) for the seats. Although some accounts give wildly conflicting estimates of the gate (between 800 and 5,463!), the true attendance figure was certainly around the 4,500 mark: definitely a ground record!
City won the toss, and made Lincoln face the sun and wind. Both teams had early chances, and the home defence was outstanding, breaking down each Lincoln attack as it came in. At the other end, City had one attempt on goal which hit the crossbar, and another failed when Draper committed a foul. The crowd was giving some very vocal support. This game was being played at a furious pace, and both teams welcomed the half time break; it had been a very even contest, and City had perhaps surprised their professional opponents.
In the second half there was much more pressure from Lincoln, who enjoyed about 75% possession, but were unable to break the stout City defence. Towards the end, City found themselves with more of the ball, and were playing a very pretty passing game. They forced a corner, but to no avail, and then Lincoln came back, trying to get a result. The final whistle blew, and Oxford City had held the professionals to a scoreless draw, a fantastic achievement made possible by an excellent defensive team in which Benson was outstanding.
The replay was to be held on the following Wednesday, 29 January. It was Early Closing Day in Lincoln, but the crowd at Sincil Bank, about 2,000, was less than expected. City’s team was as before, except that Dickinson moved to centre forward, Foster to inside left and Horace Venables came in for Arnett. The ‘Cits’, as they were known at this time, won the toss, and made Oxford City face the elements.
City put on some early pressure, forcing a corner, and then coming close via a long range shot from Herbert Smith. Lincoln had their turn, making Benson very busy. After 15 minutes Lincoln got the breakthrough after a scrimmage near the City goal.
Herbert Smith was outstanding in defence under continual onslaught by the professionals, but a second and probably decisive goal was scored by Lincoln just before the interval.
A third was added soon after the resumption, but City held on gamely, not making it easy for Lincoln: there would be no goal avalanche in this game. City enjoyed some possession, but could not find a way through to goal themselves, and at the other end, Benson continued his heroics. Unfortunately Lincoln did score a fourth goal.
Snow fell in the last period of the game, and Lincoln had two goals disallowed for offside. At the other end, Dickinson went close, not long before full time, but there were to be no consolation goals for the City.

Lincoln City Prog

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