Match wrap: Blackpool 3 Oxford United 3

I was in the sixth form in the summer of 1990; A Levels were coming to an end, a new world of freedom and opportunity was opening up. I was working in a video rental shop and earning more money than I could ever have imagined – £4 an hour tax free. I could afford to go to the pub and still buy a pizza on the way home. I once bought four albums on cassette in a single shopping trip.

I’d watched the group games of Italia 90 at home with my mum and dad, which had been the normal way of watching football on TV for as long as I could remember. With Oxford United alumni, Mark Wright, heading home the winner against Egypt in the final group game, England limped through to the second round to face Belgium on the same night as the first post-A Level party of the season. 

The party was at Ian’s house; the game wasn’t planned as a centrepiece, but we naturally congregated around the TV. I thought it would be funny to create a ticker tape welcome to the England team as they entered the field. As the tense tussle progressed deep into extra-time, the drink flowed everywhere. With penalties looming, David Platt span to volley home Paul Gasgoigne’s floated back-post free-kick for the winner and the whole place went bananas. 

Rob, the school’s head boy, jumped up, a slosh of lager coming out of his can. The ticker tape and beer mix had turned the wooden floor into an ice rink and with no traction underfoot, he slipped, hitting his head on the corner of the TV, he sprang to his feet with a big smile on his face. The whistle went and the party started in earnest; we danced late into the night to the acid house tunes that had replaced Leonard Cohen and The Cure on the sixth form ghettoblaster.  The following morning the ticker tape had dried like concrete to the floor, but we were long gone by the time the host was trying to chip it off the floor before his mum got home.

Suddenly, we were in a perfect storm of national fervour, newly found freedom and a favourable World Cup draw. Parties that coincided with England games had added kudos. With each game more girls seemed interested in our knowledge of Tony Dorigo and Steve Hodge; there were pretty ones, cool worldly ones and some that didn’t even play the violin.

The semi-final against West Germany was at James’ house; he was cool, arty, laid back, unassuming and good looking; everyone liked him and everyone was invited. His parents were bohemian artists and had no issue with the entire school descending on the house, they probably weren’t aware of the game. The place shook violently with expectation.

Beyond the historical record, I don’t know what happened in between, my next clear memory was of four of us alone in an empty village pub down the road sitting ashen faced as the colour of the world drained away. England were out. What happened to the party? Did everyone just leave when Chris Waddle skied his penalty? I just don’t know, it was like a light had been switched off.

We met up again for the 3rd place play-off at Pete’s house, ornaments had been removed from the front room in anticipation of a raucous night, but the magic had gone. We watched solemnly, hoping to recreate something of the previous nights. One girl came, Ian’s new girlfriend, a kind of man-of-the-match trophy for the performances of the eleven days since the Belgium win. She sat bored as he pawed away at her, they’d split up within a week.

If Tuesday’s loss to Blackpool was the dispiriting defeat to West Germany, then last night’s second leg was the third place play-off against Italy. An administrative necessity; a game that never was. Some fantasised about a record breaking comeback and Matty Taylor’s opening goal momentarily suggested it could happen, but it had been clear since Tuesday who was the more deserving team.

It’s hard to know whether we played better or if Blackpool were a bit more lax with their three goal cushion. We battled well and showed admirable spirit to stay in the game and salvage a draw. The two goals immediately after Taylor’s had me fearing the worst, there was a long way to go in front of a partisan crowd and the quality of the goals screamed for us to surrender, but we didn’t and that’s to be applauded.

We stood fast and at least put on a show, but in many ways we ended the season pretty much where we started. We end as second top goalscorers in the league, but with the eighth best defence, we’ve won once against the top nine. Perhaps as significant is the fact we’ve drawn fewer games than anyone in the top half of the table. 

We do the exciting bits really well, perhaps as well as any Oxford team since the eighties; we score goals and win games, but when we need to shut up shop and take a point, that’s where we’re lacking. It was evident at Lincoln on the opening day and it was evident last night. The better teams – and Blackpool is one – don’t give away defeats cheaply or chase wins unnecessarily. Our ability to concede within minutes of scoring last night showed the lack of composure, even our more senior professionals – James Henry and Matty Taylor – had moments where they seemed to lose control, which could have been red cards. 

I remember the feeling of the 1990 semi-final penalty shoot out, and the re-run at Euro 96. In those two tournaments Germany scored ten consecutive penalties and never looked like they’d miss. They were composed and calm, never losing sight of the ultimate objective; nobody tried to break the net, let alone clear the stand Waddle-like.

This lack of leadership and the composure that comes with it has been a lingering factor all season. When we’re free and on the front foot, playing teams who are technically inferior, we’re brilliant to watch, we want to score goals and entertain, but when we need to take a breath against the better teams, who is making that call?  

We’ve certainly progressed from where we were; earlier in the season we’d never see the back four moving the ball around taking the sting out of the game, that’s been more evident in the last few weeks. Perhaps we’ll see this accelerate next season as players like Rob Atkinson and Elliott Moore gain more experience and confidence, but I still feel there’s an argument for bringing in a couple of experienced players to be around the squad who can come in and influence the mindset of the team when it’s under pressure.

Let’s not be too hard on ourselves. I’m not disappointed, this season was about getting through, the fact we’ve had so many great moments is a bonus. We’ve played more league games than any other team in the division over the last two seasons and had virtually no break. I hadn’t contemplated a trip to Wembley or Championship football and, in fact, feared a little what it might do to us – another crushing defeat or a season battling relegation. Each step forward seemed like another step towards a poison chalice, although that didn’t make it less enticing.

In truth, I’m a little relieved it’s over and that we can have another go in a league we know we can compete and develop in. It finally gives everyone a chance to rest, physically and mentally, and to prepare properly for the new season; which, hopefully, will be a little bit more normal and maybe a little bit more successful; we’re very close and that’s all we need.

Match wrap: Oxford United 0 Blackpool 3

In some ways the whole purpose of our existence is to leave things behind; for some, it may be by having children, for others; ideas and memories. In many ways, a football club is the product of its past; a vessel for collecting memories sustained through their re-telling from one generation to the next. It manifests itself in our matchday routines, our symbolic artefacts of shirts and scarves, and our embellished stories of away trips and famous wins.

Without being fed a steady stream of new memories, the club would eventually fade away to meaninglessness. We never fully lost the connection, but it has withered over the last year. Last night felt like we were picking up a dropped thread; resuming that interrupted flow.

The game against Blackpool was intended as a great re-connection of the club to its fans. When the pandemic first hit, we fantasised about this day as an instant return to normalcy, as if the virus would surrender and its damage be instantly repaired. Sadly, pandemics follow their own path; there would never be an overnight return to how it was, it was always going to be gradual and imprecise and maybe never fully complete.

I arrived at the ground, passing signs for the vaccination centre, and saw several familiar faces making their way to the stadium. The crowd, stripped of the day trippers and casuals that dilute the regular faces, was both reassuringly familiar and strangely intense, there was simply nobody I didn’t recognise. It was like a sitcom Christmas special that had no extras and too much budget for guest cameos.  

With the attendance plan meticulously organised to maximise the crowd, the atmosphere was curious. The aesthetic reminded me of populating a Subbuteo grandstand with a pack of 5 figurines, it was the maximum crowd possible, but regimentally inauthentic. 

Normally for home games, there’s a reassuring hum of routine, but instead there was a joyous novelty like it was an away game. Without opposition fans, and with the sunshine, benign partisanship and everyone spread out, it felt like a bucolic pre-season friendly. 

Underpinning all this was the purpose of the game itself, in many ways the play-off was hidden from sight. We were happy to be back at the ground and attending a game, there was little space for any big game angst. 

Despite a bright start and an early chance for Mark Sykes, Blackpool altogether looked more prepared for the actual challenge of fighting for promotion. For them, the result meant more than the occasion. 

Nothing was better illustrated than Luke Garbutt. I saw him once at Chieveley Service Station waiting to be picked up for our trip to Bristol Rovers when he was on loan to us from Everton. He was slim, good looking and well groomed; standing outside a West Cornwall Pasty Company concession, he reminded me of an estate agent who lived with his mum and spent all his disposable income on his car, its insurance and clothes. He still looked like that at Ipswich last season, but now at Blackpool he looks like he sustains himself spearfishing salmon on the Yukon using a canoe that he’s hand whittled. His beard is full, his hair is long, unkempt, and held back with an elastic band. He looks about a stone of muscle heavier. It’s like he’s decided it’s time to knuckle down and make something of his life.

As we toiled to get a foothold, their first goal was greeted with an eerie silence. I waited for the delayed distant cheer of the away following, but it was if the goal had been disallowed. Perhaps that’s why it didn’t register as a problem, deep down, I didn’t think it’d been given. It wasn’t until the second goal that I snapped out of it and realised the prospect of promotion, the whole reason for being there, was rapidly slipping away.

The opening goal resulted from a howling error from Josh Ruffels, and the second from a raid down his left flank which he seemed happy to watch admiringly from afar. Apparently he’s destined for the Championship next season, but he looked lightweight compared to Garbutt. After the game, Steve Kinniburgh pointed out that he’s nearly 28, a senior professional even though he still looks like a clean-cut prospect. The whole team does; neat, tidy and talented, like they’re trapped in a bubble where people never grow up.

All over the field Blackpool had the physical maturity we’re missing; Ellis Simms was mobile and powerful up front, making Elliot Moore look like he needed to grow a bit. They were organised too, a single unit; during lulls in the crowd you could hear the bench barking for them to ‘hold’ or ‘move’ and they did as a disciplined, singular whole. We could neither go through nor find a way around. Brandon Barker had moments early on and Sykes found his way through the cracks, but otherwise we were constantly out muscled and manoeuvred, barely able to land a glove on them. It reminded me of Rotherham last year when we were strong-armed to a comprehensive defeat before half time. This doesn’t belittle Blackpool’s ability; they look far more equipped for the challenge than we do. 

Before the game, we were billed as the division’s entertainers and Blackpool as a dour defensive unit. While we have a lot of fun playing against the lower sides; it was pretty obvious which approach is more effective to achieve the long term goal. We entertain, they progress.

There’s still a second leg of course; let’s not give up too soon, but the result reminded us that as far as we’ve come under Karl Robinson, we’re at a point where we need to make some tough decisions about leadership, strength, organisation and pragmatism. If we want to compete at the top of this level or above, we may need to sacrifice a bit of style to find a bit more substance.

Being critical feels desperately unfair in so many ways; what the team have achieved is as remarkable as the way they’ve achieved it. In a grim year, they’ve provided plenty of highs, and for that we should be grateful. They don’t need to explain or dwell on what went wrong, we just got found out; a reminder that against the eight other teams in the top nine, we’ve now won just once in eighteen league, cup and play-off attempts. 

Last night’s game was a much welcome re-connection, even if it wasn’t the party we envisaged, it was a step in the right direction and for that we should be content. Maybe Friday will bring a miracle, and it will all be forgotten, but more likely it won’t. If a football club is a vessel for memories, perhaps what we’ll draw from the result is the lessons we need to learn in the future.

George Lawrence’s Shorts – Never Mind the Ballots

Saturday 8 May 2021

On the eve of the last game of the season, Headington United’s Sam Long and Big Friendly Giant Elliott Moore have been reflecting on the last two years. Moore’s had a breakthrough season, skippering the side and playing every game. Long hasn’t seen a season this disrupted since the 1846 cholera pandemic preventing Headington United from playing their Oxfordshire Senior Cup Quarter Final against the Oxford University Department for Advanced Wheelwrighting Second XI. 

Sunday 9 May 2021

A blistering 4-0 win over Flimsy Boyd Jasselblank’s Burton Albion set up an unlikely opportunity for Oxford to make the play-offs on Sunday. Everything depended on Portsmouth’s game against Accrington. Over at Fratton Park, there was a proper bumpy Pompey pumping as Stanley won 1-0. The result meant Oxford snatched the last play-offs place and will play Blackpool next week.

Monday 10 May 2021

Blackpool fans are excited by the prospect of allowing up to 4,000 fans to Bloomfield Road for the play-off second leg against Oxford a week on Friday. The town hasn’t been this excited since Blackpool’s Woke-end Weekend a couple of years ago, which involved vegan ice-creams, a Black(pool) Lives Matter demonstration and the polyamarous puppet show; Punch and Judy and Another Judy.

Tuesday 11 May 2021

KRob’s still recovering from the excitement of making the play-offs, but feels his team are the underdogs as they go into the post-season. “…for some unknown reason we are in with a shout of going to the second tier of English football.” he said reassuringly.

Wednesday 12 May 2021

Oxford have confirmed that fans will be allowed to attend the first leg play-off game against Blackpoo next Tuesday. All season ticket holders will be invited to enter a ballot for the tickets available. Some fans have complained they’ve been unfairly left out, feeling they deserve to be rewarded for their dedication to posting flame emojis on the club’s instagram posts nearly every day.

Thursday 13 May 2021

Oxford players have been seen celebrating goals by pretending to play a saxophone and Elliot Lee has explained the reason why. “I put my music on and it was a saxophone playlist. A few of the lads asked whose music it was.” he said. Expect a few of the other lads to do a ‘sandpapering my eyeballs’ celebration when they score against Blackpool to show what it feels like to listen to a saxophone playlist.

Friday 14 May 2021

There are rumours that KRob is lining up a bid for Hibs right-back Tom James. James is said to be excited at the prospect of starting a few games in August before getting ousted by Sam Long and being shipped out on loan by Christmas.

With the play-offs next week, there’s a blank weekend for Oxford fans who don’t know what to do with themselves on Saturday. What about Tsun Dai? Well, the former Oxford player has scored his first professional goals with a brace for Shenzen in the Chinese Super League against Shandong Taishan.

Midweek fixture: Sam Long – local hero

The first time I remember seeing Sam Long he was 18-years-old and stood in a school assembly hall handing out end of season awards to a local junior football club having signed his first professional contract a few days earlier. 

Long was unremarkable; his hair was short and he was wearing jeans, trainers and a hoodie, looking indistinguishable from the teenagers he was rewarding. The year before, the club had attracted England international Eniola Aluko. By contrast, dressed in her England tracksuit, she looked comfortable in her ambassadorial role. 

One of the coaches congratulated Long on his new contract; though most didn’t know who he was. My thoughts were less magnanimous, it had been nearly a decade since Dean Whitehead and Sam Ricketts had cultivated successful careers in the game and two decades since Joey Beauchamp and Chris Allen had done the same. Long didn’t seem the type that was likely to follow in their footsteps.

There are always players that fans see as being the great new hope for the club; there were frenzied calls for James Roberts and Tyrone Marsh to solve our goalscoring problems despite being inexperienced teenagers, like many others, they quickly faded from the scene.

Long’s debut was as a substitute for James Constable in 2013 away to Accrington Stanley. The team, managed by Chris Wilder, mixed veterans from our Conference promotion season – Constable, Damian Batt and Alfie Potter – with experienced pros like Michael Duberry who had been brought in to fire us towards promotion. Duberry had already picked Long out for his work ethic and lack of ego, praising the influence of Chris Allen, his youth team coach, for instilling a culture of listening and learning which, he said, would serve him well.

It would be another year before Long would make his first start. With Wilder moving on to Northampton, caretaker manager Mickey Lewis gave him his debut in a draw at Morecambe. It was an illustration of Lewis’ generous character to give young players a chance, even if it was sometimes at the expense of results. Lewis was quick to praise Long’s performance, in what was otherwise a disappointing display.

The arrival of Michael Appleton and new ownership in 2014 saw a revolution at the club. Long wasn’t an established player and with Appleton impatient to find a winning formula, his chances were limited to eight games, although he did score his first goal against Southend. 

Appleton churned through over 40 players in his first season, weeding out many of Chris Wilder’s signings who he saw as having a loser’s mentality. Long could easily have been swept away in the tidal wave, but he survived the cull, going on a six-week loan to Kidderminster in November 2014 as part of a deal that brought Chey Dunkley to the club.

With the painful screwdriver work complete; everything seemed to be falling into place for Long as the 2015/16 season approached. Jake Wright called him the best player in pre-season; in a crowded field, it was quite an accolade. 

It went further; Michael Appleton started implementing a philosophy inspired by the book Legacy – which details the winning formula of the All-Blacks. He established a leadership group to build cohesiveness and deal with squad issues; Long was made part of it to stand alongside more experienced first team regulars.

Then, just as things started to click, Long was stretchered off in a League Cup tie at Hillsborough with an ankle ligament injury that plagued him all season. He returned to the bench for the 2016 EFL Trophy defeat to Barnsley, but while the club were advancing, Long was stuck in the physio’s room.

Long would make the bench a year later for another EFL Trophy final against Coventry, but injuries slowed his progress. When Pep Clotet replaced Appleton in 2017, the new manager turned to experienced players, a rainbow alliance of old mates. When he was fit, Long was loaned out to Hampton and Richmond Borough.

To outsiders, it seemed that the club were running Long’s contract down; he’d started four league games in three years and faced the prospect of getting to the end of his deal with little or no experience and no reputation to take him elsewhere. 

It would be romantic to suggest that Karl Robinson spotted Long’s potential and nurtured him into the player he is today, but that wouldn’t be wholly true. Robinson wanted a modern full-back, an auxiliary midfielder expected to defend and attack for 90 minutes. He strained his resources to land someone with the modern characteristics of pace, energy, resilience and those crucial defensive and attacking qualities. Chris Cadden arrived from Motherwell, but the budget couldn’t stretch to a permanent deal so the club signed up to a curious arrangement where he moved to Columbus Crew before being immediately loaned bak to the Oxford for half a season while the MLS season was in recess. When Cadden’s deal ran out, Robinson turned to Long to fill the vacant slot. 

Finally getting regular starts, the season was curtailed as the coronavirus pandemic hit, a late run of form saw Oxford qualify for the play-off final against Wycombe. It was Long’s third trip to Wembley, his first time on the pitch and his third disappointment. 

Although Long signed a new two-year deal just before the play-offs, 2020/21 felt like déjà vu; Sean Clare was signed from Hearts and given the right-back’s number two shirt, implying that he was the preferred starting option. The season started underwhelmingly and Clare’s performances we’re fitful. Long clawed his way back into the starting line-up once again.

His return coincided with a return to form and a scintillating winning streak. He was also picking up assists and goals that had been absent from his CV. Against Plymouth, he sprinted half the length of the pitch, exchanging passes with Clare along the way, to score the winner in a crucial 3-2 win. With the play-off race tightening, he popped up to score a memorable last-minute brace to put Gillingham to the sword. Long edged past the milestone of 100 starts and was leading from the front. 

Perhaps it was that time spent with the leaders of the club under Michael Appleton, or the guidance as a youth team player under Chris Allen that encouraged Long to take a greater responsibility in terms of being a leader in the team. His willingness to take responsibility grew as the season progressed. The regular season closed with a play-off spot, and two player of the season awards. Next season, he’ll wear the number 2 shirt.

What is a full back? They don’t score the goals like a striker; they don’t show the great artistic impudence like a midfielder nor the alpha-brutish strength of central defender. When you get a good one they dictate mood and tone. Long has emerged as an attacking threat and an active contributor to our success as a club, he represents his community and embodies the philosophy that Karl Robinson has tried to instil into the club. Perhaps he needed that journey to establish himself in that role and build the mental fortitude to fulfil it; now he’s here, long may he reign.

Match wrap: Oxford United 4 Burton Albion 0

And so it came to this; we needed an improbable set of results to sneak into the play-offs. But, Portsmouth; thirteen points ahead of us at Christmas, just needed a win at home to Accrington and ours would be a lost cause. 

They’ll do it, though, won’t they? For all the farago surrounding the last game of the season, good teams tend to deliver. For all the sharp cuts on Sky’s screaming trailers, the reality is not that dramatic; good teams find a way to secure the points they need and move on, the fake news drama is long forgotten as they head to the play-offs and us to the beach.

For us, the rambunctious interlopers, second bottom at the end of October, we would finally find our level; not amongst the contenders but with the bystanders. We would commend ourselves on our bravery while quietly filing the season away in a bin marked ‘forgotten’. That’s how it works, doesn’t it?

Last year, our journey to the play-offs felt like threading a needle through an increasingly narrow eye. The pre-pandemic run, Josh Ruffels’ decisive last minute winner at Shrewsbury, the debate about the future of the season, the intricacies of points-per-game calculations, play-offs ties that felt like having your teeth filed, a cavernous soulless Wembley and a dispiriting defeat to bring it all to an end. An ever narrowing, treacherous and doomed path to nowhere.

But this felt different, a crazy run had got us to this point; goals flying in, comeback wins, returning from the dead with a last minute double from our homegrown full-back and spirit animal. Insanity and never not fun.

This time we were here to crash the party; to stumble through the door, get off with your mum and commandeer the stereo. But, it would end, eventually, surely someone would kick us back out onto the street.

A few weeks ago, Karl Robinson talked of taking the handbrake off; living in the moment, just seeing what happens, what did we have to lose? We’d survived a coach being disabled by disinfectant, opponents turning up with an outbreak of covid in their ranks, postponements, a stadium fire, countless makeshift changing rooms fashioned out of burger bars and hospitality suites, we’d revived ourselves after a grim derby defeat. We weren’t ‘in it’, but we also weren’t ‘out of it’.

By contrast, at Portsmouth there was expectation, pressure and minimum requirements to make the play-offs. They’d been buckling, for sure, but they still had enough in the tank, didn’t they?

There’s hope and there’s logic, and that wasn’t in our favour. We stepped onto the pitch free of pressure, free from logic; just play the next game. We were magnificent, swashbuckling, brave, playing with light in our heart; nobody expects us to make it, so why not just enjoy it? 

If we were nervous, it didn’t show; the early goal scythed through Burton’s defence for Mide Shodipo to nod home. Burton looked club footed by comparison; they’ve hauled themselves to safety which is a triumph in itself, but there wasn’t much left to give apart from the heavy artillery of their long throws into the box, which were easily mopped up.

News filtered through of an Accrington goal; how were Pompey feeling now? A black cloud darkening their mood? Consumed by their own failings? Helplessly watching the sands of fate drain between their fingers? Every Accrington win at this level is a triumph against the odds, they’re not going to let an opportunity pass when it’s presented to them.

Tired, calamitous Burton defending allowed Matty Taylor to head home the second; the scoreboard marked up another goal, but the real impact was on the south coast. We looked so light on our feet while they looked dead on theirs. We were breaking their spirit and resolve, how after all this time, and all that’s happened, were we so full of energy? 

When Elliot Lee’s ridiculous daisy cutting free-kick squirmed under the wall and through the goalkeepers hands it was confirmed; we were home and hosed and destiny would pass over to Fratton Park to decide our future. They toiled, broken by their own expectation, blinded by our light, bamboozled that we’re enjoying this. This is the sharp end of the season, the pressure is supposed to be too much to bear.

For us, though, there is no expectation; we just have more to gain. The handbrake is off, the consequences of failure minimal. We’ve survived a pandemic, we’re still in with a chance of the play-offs despite everything, whatever happens now is a bonus. We’re better like this; playing on adrenaline, luck and emotion. The tortuous intricacies of last year have been shed, we’re playing with a freedom that those around us have long since lost, swimming in a deep well of their own doubt.

As injury time came, a long ball from Jack Stevens dropped to Sam Winnall 25 yards out, why not have a lash? The manual says keep the ball, but that’s not fun and that’s not us. What’s the worst that can happen? The strike was sweet and true, playful and mischievous, now that is us.

Radio Oxford passed through to Radio Solent for the final moments of the game at Fratton Park, the mood was bleak, the commentators knew it was long since over. Not good enough, overwhelmed by their own shortcomings, their squandered chances, and a history that hangs around their neck like a noose.  

We haven’t threaded our way into the play-offs, we’ve crashed into them; we’re not expecting to play Championship football next season, but it would be fun to try it. We come without the baggage of expectation, without a legacy of opportunities squandered, without that sense that even if we did succeed, we’d still be below our natural level. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

The fans will return, the air will be fresh, we are fortified by what we’ve achieved, we enter the next stage as rascals and outsiders, playing with a smile, not dwelling on what we’ve lost but revelling in what we’ve achieved, you never know, that could be enough.

George Lawrence’s Shorts – Countdown conundrums

Saturday 24 April 2021

It’s like Countdown around here, after the 3-1 win Plymouth on Saturday. The win propelled Oxford into the fifth. Teams around us have games in hand, but with plenty of opportunities to drop points, two wins from the last two games could still see Oxford make the top six. A consonant, please Rachel.

Sunday 25 April 2021

Following yesterday’s defeat, after conceding 16 goals in 6 games and losing 9 in their last 13 games Plymouth manager Ryan Lowe has become a great all-seeing sage by revealing a controversial theory about what’s going wrong at the Devon club. “We’re not good enough.” he said, sitting in the lotus position banging his chakra.

Monday 26 April 2021

KRob’s a fugitive on the run from the law, the Feds at the FA have got him banged to rights and charged him with ‘improper and/or violent conduct’ relating to the ill-tempered game against Premier League One side Sunderland earlier this month. KRob ended up doing porridge in the slammer during that game after referee Trevor Kettle sent him to the stands. Now he’s back in front of the beak, but he ain’t no grass. 

Tuesday 27 April 2021

Ole! The bookie monster Alex Gorrin has signed a contract extension until 2022 alongside Jedward Orphan Mark Sykes. Gorrin received lots of cards from friends to celebrate the news, mostly yellow ones for shin high lunging tackles.  

Wednesday 28 April 2021

From the GLS vaults labelled ‘are you absolutely shitting me?’ comes news that Burton Albion are planning to use our last game of the season for a virtual ‘staying up’ party. Burton were rock bottom of the table, but with Flimmy Joyd Basselhank at the helm they’ve climbed their way to safety, it’s now party time. 

Thursday 29 April 2021

The League One Team of the season has been revealed and Rob Atkinson has secured one of the centre-back spots. It’s been an impressive season for Atkinson who last year was playing non-league football at Eastleigh. Before that he was West Brom and Manchester United manager with a nifty line in sheepskin coats and chunky gold jewelry.

Friday 30 April 2021

As the season draws to the end, again, the rumour mill starts to turn, again, this time, it’s news that a Championship team are in the hunt, again, for Cameron Brannagain, again. This time it’s Preston North End who are interested in the midfielder. Brannagain would join Ryan Ledson at Deepdale; so expect a surge in sales of double-strength shin pads to the Championship next season. 

Saturday 1 May 2021

Oxford’s 3-2 comeback win over Shrewsbury Town on Saturday guaranteed that the season will go to the last day. A win over Burton could see the yellows sneak into the play-offs. There is some debate about how you pronounce Shrewsbury; does it rhyme with ‘lose’ as in ‘Shrewsbury lose to Oxford’ or does it rhyme with ‘throws’ as in ‘Shrewsbury throws away their lead again’?

Sunday 2 May 2021

The comb-over Sam Long, Dave Langan has been reflecting on mixing it with the hoi polloi during his time at Oxford United in the 1980s. As well as negotiating contracts with Robert Maxwell, he also spent time with Oxford director and alleged child sex trafficker, Maxwell’s daughter, Ghislane. “She seemed really down to earth. She was just like a normal person.” he said, unlike any of the sex trafficking, friend of a billionaire paedophiles he’d met before.

Monday 3 May 2021

KRob loves a good ding dong, and there’s a proper ding dang do coming up next Sunday. “Roll on next Sunday and the balls start rolling again.” he said eating a bacon roll, having a stroll, stroking a foal. 

Tuesday 4 May 2021

Sheffield United’s transformation into the t’Oxford is nearly complete as they seek a big gun to replace Chris Wilder. After Wilder, Jake Wright, John Lundstram and George Baldock; rumours are that Mr Big Guns himself, MApp, is the next Oxford alumni to join the club as manager. PClot’s Malmo 2010 WhatsApp group was buzzing at the prospect of getting the gang back together at Bramall Lane in a couple of years. Ago Mehmeti said he’ll make a big chilli for the reunion.

Wednesday 5 May 2021

KRob was in the dock on Wednesday as he faced a charge of improper and/or violent conduct after the shenanigans at Sunderland. Due to the pandemic, the case was held over Zoom, where the Oxford boss stated his case with passion and panache. “YOU HAVE NO AUTHORITY HERE”, he screamed “READ THE STANDING ORDERS, READ THEM AND UNDERSTAND THEM”.

Thursday 6 May 2021

McGuane in Spain was quickly on the plane, but he’s delighted to be taking the step up from playing for Barcelona, Arsenal and Nottingham Forest after signing a three year contract at Oxford.

Jose’s son John Mousinho is a real box-to-box-file player. He’s been elected as chair of the new PFA players’ board. This is not to be confused with the Playaz Board, which organises custom sports cars, expensive jewelry and spit roasting sessions for aspiring Premier League teenagers.  

Friday 7 May 2021

Life is like a box of chocolates for Josh Ruffels, he’s got his pick of the teams to sign for next season when his contract expires. Now rumours are surfacing that he could become a Nottingham Forest chump