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© Chris Byrne 2010

1903/04 & 1904/05

03 Fixture Card

The centre spread of a season ticket from the 1903-04 season, with some of the early-season results pencilled in.
The FA Cup is still referred to as the 'English Cup' (though Wrexham and other Welsh clubs were always involved, and it was only a few years since Scottish clubs and Irish clubs had taken part.)

In the light of the successes of the ’02 season hopes were high in the Club and there was talk about improving the amenities, though the local press reported “...the question of building a covered stand at the White House is being considered, although many feel it would be an unwise move while tenancy of the ground is so uncertain.”
It was to be a busy season with City’s growing reputation bringing more offers of, and requests for, friendlies. In all 45 matches were organised for the 1st XI, though a number failed to occur for a variety of reasons.
Early results were excellent, with two 7-0 victories (against London County Council and New College) recorded, a 1-1 draw against a strong Cambridge University side as well as a 3-0 English Cup win against Shepherds Bush. In fact the first defeat wasn’t until early November when Reading ran in six goals against a rather weakened side in a match intended to provide some practice for the Saturday’s English Cup match against Brentford who proved too strong for City and ran out 3-1 winners.
The Amateur Cup trail began again in the new year with a visit, involving several trains and horse-drawn carts, to deepest Somerset at Paulton Rovers, where they drew 2-2. The replay at home was won 2-0.
In the 2nd Round they had another away tie, against Cheshunt, where they had to play extra time to force a 1-1 draw. The replay posed a problem as flooding had, not for the first time, ruled out the White House Ground and St John’s College ground (in the Woodstock Road) was eventually agreed upon by both parties, and witnessed a veritable goal feast. Nine goals were scored in what must have been a real nailbiter for the fans, but, unfortunately for City, they were only able to score four of them, and Cheshunt were through to meet Whitehead's in the next round. Still, a crowd of over 2000 had made its way to north Oxford for the game, and the takings were recorded as £54.
The rest of the season was somewhat mixed, but they did win the prestigious Eastbourne Charity Cup again (6-3 against Tunbridge Wells) and became the first holders of the Oxford Hospital Cup with a thumping 5-0 win against Maidenhead Norfolkians.
The season was not without its controversy, however, with several column-inches of editorial and correspondence complaining that the club captain, William Smith, should choose to play for Reading against Millwall rather than for the City against Tunbridge Wells.

The 1904/05 season started strongly, although the University still proved too strong for the City in October, just before the first of the season’s English Cup matches brought a win over Wycombe Wanderers.
Programmes were issued on a regular basis from the start of this season. An example exists, and the Oxford Chronicle reported that “...programmes were available at several points on the ground.”
There was a quick exit from the Oxford Hospital Cup, at Slough, before the Fourth Qualifying Round of the English Cup paired City with Southall at The White House again. All looked lost as the visitors raced into a 3-0 lead within the first fifteen minutes, but City rallied strongly and goals from William Smith, Draper and Jakeman gave them a draw.
The replay at Southall the following Thursday produced a dour 0-0 stalemate, and so the sides reconvened for a second replay at Reading on Monday. Arthur Foster gave City an early lead, but Southall, playing ‘…some excellent football’ piled on the pressure and ran out very convincing 6-1 winners.
For Round 1 of the Amateur Cup, City were drawn at home to Whitehead’s, a works team from the famous torpedo factory in Weymouth. City sank the opposition 2-1, and progressed to a difficult away tie at Ealing, the previous season’s losing Finalists. A 1-1 draw there, the City goal scored by the renowned Corinthian left winger Gilbert Vassall, was followed up by a 1-0 home win in the replay. J.H. Gettins, the Millwall amateur and recent recruit to the City ranks, was the marksman for City this time.
And so to another Quarter-Final appearance, where City were to visit Clapton, who were just beginning to emerge as the top Southern amateur club. They were a strong team, having at their heart the famous Farnfield brothers from Cambridge University, or least least four of them (the other two joining them in the New Crusaders team based at Sidcup in the following season). 1,500 spectators were present, and the City team was: Walter Keates (goal); Albert Scothern and J.E. Snell (backs); Thomas Bumpus, William Smith and Kenneth Hunt (half backs); Frank Draper, Guy Dickinson, Revd William Blackburn, J.H. Gettins and Arthur Foster (forwards). Herbert Smith was by now established at Reading, but Scothern and Hunt (from the University) were very capable replacements. Hunt, a truly gifted player, was at the start of his playing career. Like Blackburn, he was destined for Holy Orders, and in imitation of Sam Ashworth was also to gain an FA Cup winner’s medal: with Wolves in 1908.
On the day against Clapton, nothing went City’s way. The Committee had booked an excursion train, guaranteeing 300 seats, but only 150 travelled. The gate was reckoned poor and above all Clapton proved immune to anything that the City attack could muster, and eventually won 3-0.
Clapton went on in the competition, beating Ilford in the Semi-Final but losing 3-2 to West Hartlepool in the Final. Ironically, City’s last friendly match of the season was a home game against the recently crowned Cup holders, and City won 7-1 in front of 1,000 spectators, who had probably come to see the return of Herbert Smith, who was now available for occasional games. Also playing that day was a new signing from Headington United, Tom Organ.
A successful tour of the West Country was undertaken around Easter-time and acquaintances with Paulton were renewed, and three other matches were played as well: against Trowbridge Town, Wells City and Bath Railway.

Season Ticket

This is season ticket (No.: 340) for the '04/'05 season.
This was for the Enclosure and cost 5/- (25p). Season tickets for the 'Unreserved Sections' were only 3/- (15p).
Interestingly it states amongst its (many) Rules that "...Soldiers and Sailors (when in uniform) and Ladies shall be admitted free to the ground for all matches except for cup ties."

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