Last year Oxford United entered the Football League with higher expectations than, then newcomers, Stevenage. This was due to the players signed last season and the size of both clubs in comparison. However with a budget which was set as a ‘mid-table league 2’ (according to manager Chris Wilder) it was thought we had made some shrewd signings, with all of them being under the age of 24.
Chris Wilder had signed players to build a team around. Last season was all about consolidation for us, even though along the way we got more confident and worked our way up to fifth in the league table. We lacked consistency and ended the season with a 3 – 0 ‘pooing’ from Shrewsbury, though. As I said, our problem was maintaining our good form in a very competitive league. We had the sixth best form against teams in the top half and third worst form against teams in the bottom half of the division – sums it up really.
This year, expectations have been raised with the acquisitions we have made. In my opinion, we should be expected to reach the play-offs. Of course, like any football fan, I hope we can be challenging for top spot too but realistically, it’s probably a bit out of our reach at this moment in time.
We’re very much a club on the up and seem to have gone about our Football League business very quietly since our return. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but we don’t get some well deserved, and much needed coverage at times.
I’ll make up for that with some interesting facts about my beloved Oxford United. For everyone who isn’t accustomed to Oxford, be patient, you’ll bloody love them at the end of this!
Here we go:
1. Oxford recently came third last in a list which decided league position and crowd size against each other. We did come above Sheffield Wednesday and Bradford City, who are much bigger than us. Our crowd size would put us ninth in League One. However our attendance can be attributed to the fact our catchment area is pretty big, with the most followed side closest to us being Championship side Reading.
2. We were founded as Headington United but so we could get elected to the Football League we became Oxford United. Headington’s nickname was ‘The Boys From Up The Hill’, which I believe is from Headington Hill in Oxford.
3. It took Oxford United 24 years to make the Football League. We then went on to reach Division One and win the Milk Cup (League Cup).
4. Oxford were unable to enter the 1987 UEFA Cup because of the UEFA ban on English clubs in European competitions.
5. Our current manager Chris Wilder is the 17th current longest serving manager in football.
I won’t go on, but you get the picture.
We have no money but we’re a well run club who make a small profit each year. This season we’ve apparently been ‘splashing the cash’, which isn’t true. We simply can’t afford it. We still don’t own our stadium and our chairman, Kelvin Thomas, runs a tight ship with most of our income coming from ticket sales.
Still awake? Good. I’ll end with this – next time you see Oxford United on television or maybe even at a game, I hope you’ll understand them that little bit more now and get behind them. I realise that last point may be pushing it slightly!
By Joe O’Callaghan – Oxford United fan – @oxbeav