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© Chris Byrne 2010

In The First Round Of The FA Cup & Into The Isthmian League

The early matches of the 1906/7 season saw mixed results with the side, little changed from the previous year, having good wins against Dulwich Hamlet and Reading, but losing heavily to the Civil Service and to Clapton, who were very rapidly becoming one of the strongest Southern sides and one of City’s bogey teams.
The only ‘competitive’ match before the year’s end brought a comfortable Hospital Cup win against Windsor & Eton before, after a short break because of snow over the Christmas period, they embarked on the Amateur Cup trail again.
Redhill were disposed of relatively easily in Surrey and then, on January 12th, the long-awaited FA Cup First Round match against Bury. A large crowd, of around 5000, turned up to watch the match against a club who were in the First Division of the Football League and who had already had a proud Cup history, having won the Cup twice (in 1900 and in 1903). In the end the northern professionals were just too strong for the amateurs and ran out 3-0 victors.
The side bounced back well the following week to defeat regular visitors Notts Magdala 6-1 and then continued on the Amateur Cup trail with a visit to Sidcup to play New Crusaders.

Bury Cup Ticket

The Times briefly reported that “…Oxford City beat the New Crusaders at Sidcup by one goal to none. The victory for the cup holders was a lucky one for they had much the worst of the play”. Two weeks later they were less lucky when they again went up to London and they again failed to raise their game, and as The Times wrote “…Oxford City, the holders, suffered a rather unexpected defeat, Clapton beating them by one goal to none.”
Generally, though, the strength and standing of the Club continued to rise. The County took part for the first time in the Southern Counties Amateur Cup and there were seven City players in the Oxfordshire team that lost to Surrey. And the FA had the White House on its short-list for the venue of the Amateur Cup Final along with Ipswich Town, Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur and Shepherd’s Bush: they finally chose Stamford Bridge.
Only seven more games were played before the end of the season: five friendlies and the semi-final and final of the Hospital Cup. City won the Cup for the second time in four years with a 3-2 defeat of Reading Amateurs in mid-April.


That Oxford City should enter a league had been discussed on a number of occasions before, and both the Southern League and the Western League had been considered, but the plans had been dropped because of the amount of travelling involved. Finally, at the Club’s AGM held at the Three Cups Hotel at the start of September 1907 those present were informed that an invitation from the Isthmian League to become a member had been accepted.
City’s first (of over 2500) Isthmian League match was played at the White House on October 5th against West Norwood before a crowd of about 1500 who saw a comfortable 5-2 win for the home side with goals from Herbert Hodges, Horace Tabernacle(2) and William Mayo(2). In an unusual season they won all their home league matches but lost all their Isthmian games on the road until the last day of the season when they managed a 1-1 draw at London Caledonians. Remarkably, a win would have given them the league championship at the first time of asking, but, so close were the leading four clubs, a draw meant they finished fourth (out of six) on goal average, and Caledonians topped the league. The match also saw the end of a run of 130 successive matches dating back to 1904 for Tom Organ: a quite remarkable sequence for those days.
With only ten league fixtures to complete, friendly matches against old acquaintances continued with some strong results – and a heavy defeat by Reading: not for the first time! And transport problems in Oxford caused difficulties even then: the match against Notts Magdala being very late starting after one of the horses pulling the visitors’ brake to the game fell down in St Aldate’s!
Departure from the FA Cup was swift as they lost at home to Woking in a replay of their Qualifying Round match, but progress was good in the Amateur Cup yet again as Reading Grovelands and Windsor & Eton were dispatched without too much trouble.
The Third Round was by now familiar territory to City, having been there in five out of the last six seasons. In anticipation of further progress, 2,000 fans came on February 15th to watch City play Deptford Invicta, a relatively unknown quantity from Kent.

If City thought they could have it all their own way they were badly mistaken. They did take the lead through Kirkpatrick, but an own goal, miskicked into his net by Bill Keates, evened it up, and then the visitors were awarded a penalty. Keates saved the first shot, but not the rebound: 2-1 to Deptford at half time!
A further disaster for City was that Mayo was unable to resume, having picked up an injury, but this did not dishearten the team, who came out ready to re-impose their undoubted superiority. Hodges soon scored with a powerful shot just inside the post to equalise, followed by a hat-trick for Trinder and a further goal from long range for Kirkpatrick. This remarkable turn-round enabled City to go through to yet another Quarter Final (the first time a fourth round had been necessary), by 6-2.
Their opponents in the Fourth Round, Atherstone Town, were another side unfamiliar side, and for the first time in the Cup this year they had to travel. Gwynne Witherington, the club captain, had been dropped for loss of form, and had resigned rather publicly (with an unwise letter to the local press!) Hodges was unable to play, and Davis went in his place. The game, on March 7th was very disappointing, City going down, in what was generally felt to be a poor display, 2-1, with Tom Bumpus scoring their only goal.
A second overseas tour was organised and the party took on fairly arduous set of games in Germany. The matches against teams from Cologne, Duisberg, Essen and Bonn were all won, though it seems that the home towns were not always that sure who their visitors were as in Duisberg the local paper reported the match as “…a great fight between Duisberg Spielverein and England”!
On a local note Oxford Boys had a splendid season and fought their way to the English Schools Final at Walsall where they lost narrowly to Derby 1-2. And Fred Spiller, a future City stalwart, but then still at Cowley St John School, played for English Schools in their 8-0 defeat of the Welsh Schools.

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