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© Chris Byrne 2010

World War II (2)

The 41/42 season was ushered in with the visit of an RAF XI that included three international players – Laurie Scott and Jack Crayston of Arsenal, and Billy Wrigglesworth of Manchester United – before the GWFC matches began at the end of September.
A Grenadier Guards team had replaced Wycombe (Redfords) in the GWFC, and forces sides were even more in evidence in the Senior League, where the City Reserves lined up with Headington United, Pressed Steel, I.T.C., RAF Abingdon, RAF Harwell, RAF Brize Norton, RAF Heyford, RAF Milton, RAF Kidlington and RAF Benson.
After an uninspiring 1-1 draw with Uxbridge City got into their stride with some astonishingly high-scoring wins: 8-4 at Wycombe Wanderers; 9-3 at Windsor & Eton; 8-5 against Maidenhead and a relatively tame 5-0 defeat of Reading Reserves. The Reserves were enjoying a less successful time, particularly against some of the services sides, though they did beat Headington 3-1. I.T.C. were again showing themselves to be a very strong side.
City were proving invincible in the GWFC, though they did have to be satisfied with draws against the Grenadier Guards and Maidenhead in January, and carried their good form over into the Senior Cup where they beat RAF Brize Norton and then RAF Abingdon to reach the final of the Senior Cup.
A Royal Navy XI’s appearance at the White House at the end of February drew another big crowd in Warship Week which raised over £50 for the Red Cross, before City wrapped up the league championship on March 7th with a 4-0 win over Marlow. Excitement at a second successive championship by the Club was tempered however by the sad news from Devon of the death at the age of 66 of Billy Smith who had captained City to its Amateur Cup Final victory in 1906. Though not reaching the heights of his brother Herbert, Billy was still a fine footballer and, indeed, a very strong cricketer, playing for the London County XI alongside W.G Grace.
A sunny Easter Monday drew a bumper crowd to see goals from James and Fox sufficient to dispose of Headington United, narrow winners over RAF Heyford in their semi-final, in the Senior Cup Final.
With league games almost complete City’s attention turned to the G.W. Subsidiary Cup (a competition they had not entered the previous season) and did well to come back from a 1-3 deficit from the first leg to beat Maidenhead 6-3.
The first leg of the Supplementary Cup semi-final at the White House was lost to Wycombe Wanderers 1-3, but the team bounced back the following week to win at Wycombe by the same score. With travelling becoming more and more of an issue a coin was tossed to decide the winner and City went through to the two-legged final against Uxbridge to be played over the next two weekends. This time they were unable to come back from losing the first leg (0-1) as the ‘homeless’ Uxbridge ran out 3-1 aggregate winners.
Fox, with 41 goals, headed the goal-scorers’ list by a clear margin from Ralph Martin (21) in a season in which the Club had again performed extremely well, netting 114 goals in its 33 matches, of which they lost just 5.
Donald Tyler’s resignation as Secretary early in 1942 produced major problems. As the Club sought to replace him several of the players drifted away, and with Martin and Uzzell joining the Army, and Percy James joining the RAF it was a very different side that started the 42/43 season. Only Fox and Castell had any 1st XI experience, and the break-up of such an exciting team drew several harshly critical letters to the local press.
Results were poor, and after seven league games they had achieved just one win, against Windsor Works who had replaced Chesham. The Reserves fared little better in their section of an enlarged Senior League and had only won three games by Christmas, by which point Osberton Radiators topped their section and Mount Farm (an RAF station near Berinsfield) headed Section A.
The 1st XI gradually improved in the New Year and put together four successive victories in January and February, and moved through to the Senior Cup semi-final with victories over RAF Abingdon and Mount Farm. But at the start of March as City were winning their sixth league match the Grenadier Guards had already wrapped up the championship, and a disappointing loss to RAF Brize Norton in the Senior Cup semi-final meant the GWFC Supplementary Cup (also called the War Cup) was the only remaining chance of success. Slough Centre were beaten 5-0 at the White House, after a 1-1 draw at Slough, and a good 3-0 win at Uxbridge lined up a repeat of the previous season’s semi-final: a visit to Wycombe Wanderers. This time no coin-toss was needed to separate the sides as Wycombe ran out 4-2 winners in extra-time.
The last football of the season at the White House was an exciting Senior Cup Final between the two Services sides from Harwell and Brize Norton (City’s conquerors in the semi-final). Extra time saw them deadlocked at 1-1, and the replay in early May ended 2-2 so the sides agreed to share the Cup.
Fox was again the leading scorer, but this year with only 13 goals (Jeacock followed him with 10) and the 1st XI won only 14 of their 33 matches.

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