Yellows 5 Grays Athletic 0

I had this post all worked out before the game. It was going to be about how Julian Dicks got lucky when he was caught up in the early Premiership gold rush. Now, stripped of the mystique of professional football, he’s just a sunken-eyed middle-aged fat knacker and a boorish oaf who had been humbled by the class and wit of Chris Wilder and his vastly superior squad.

However, Dicks’ interview before yesterday’s game revealed him as a bloke just trying to make his way in his profession. Yes, he was a tough tackler who got a brief and little deserved moment in the really big time. Unlike Neil Ruddock, Dicks isn’t an embarrassing middle-aged football hooligan shouting for people to take notice of him.

So, I have a newfound respect for the man (which, I’m sure thrills him) even if his charges aren’t very good. They should have declared no-contest on this one after about 25 minutes. After all, it comes to something when your team is improved by the introduction of Jamie Slabber.

Unlike the Eastbourne game, the team managed to stay awake during the second half, which is some testament when there’s no opposition to play. Sometimes it felt like we were watching the subs at half time trying to out-do each other with little flicks and round-the-corner passing. This must be what it’s like to support the auld firm; where, for most of the season, the question isn’t whether you’ll win or not, but by how much.

We’re so hopelessly out of place in this league. The Luton game aside, the matches don’t feel like games of football. The stadium, the crowd, the players, the manager, even the bloody marketing and sponsorship smacks of a team some way beyond the Conference.

I know that everyone’s been saying this for years – we’re too big to be in the Conference. But the truth is, whilst we have always looked out of place visually, like the kid in your third year rugby team who was over 6 foot and had pubes, in the past we at least been part of the competition. Now it’s like Stephen Fry taking GCSE English, we’re so superior we can complete the job in a fraction of the allotted time, then all there is to do is stare at the ceiling and wait for everyone else to finish. I thought that promotion would be an anxious struggle that would leave me with an ulcer, if we carry on like this, we’ll have it won in February.

Not that I’m complaining, of course.

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Oxblogger is a blog about Oxford United.

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