Who were ya?

Everyone loves a good cull, it’s good for the soul, especially after relegation. During the close season its as heartening as a new signing. Eight have gone so far, with one other 99% certain to go, here’s the role of dishonour:

Jamie Brooks
Looked set to follow the lineage of Joey Beauchamp and Dean Whitehead, as a local boy done good. Struck down with Guillain Barre Syndrome just before a trial with Arsenal a five years ago. It nearly killed him and less importantly wrecked his career. Sad, but no surprise to seem him go.

Matt Robinson
A stalwart of nearly 200 games who was at his best going forward. Excellent, and occasionally brilliant, when we were excellent, listless when we weren’t. Seemed like a nice bloke, which may have ultimately resulted in his downfall.

Leo Roget
Probably on his way because of wages. Horrendous first season which seemed to coincide with the birth of his first child. Often found dozing at the back. He was as dependable as anyone in his second season. There were even rumours he was in line for a World Cup call up with Trinidad and Tobago, although that might simply have been his agent stoking the rumour mill in preparation for his imminent departure.

Player of promise. None of it shown at Oxford. Looked a lightweight, probably a demon in training.

Stuart Gray
One of those squad players who could have been signed at Christmas or six years ago for all I can remember. Badly injured at the start of the season, appeared only fleetingly without much impact. Very bandy legged.

Jon Ashton
Quick, aggressive central defender, prone to breaking and re-breaking his nose. Prone also to cataclysmic errors at crucial times in games.

Bradie Clark
Played only occasionally but way behind Billy Turley and Chris Tardif in the goalkeeping pecking order. No surprise to see him move on. Much improved hairstyle this season.

Warren Goodhind
Doesn’t really count as he was only ever on loan anyway. Really failed to make any impact at all, although I sat behind his wife/girlfriend during the Bristol Rovers game.

Lee Bradbury
Part of the criminal asset stripping at Christmas which saw Craig Davies go to Verona and Chris Hackett to Hearts. Bradbury was shipped off to Southend to avoid triggering a contract clause which would have seen him signed up for another year. Bradbury was no bona fide match winner, but he had a touch of class that helped steady the ailing ship. We ended the season with a defensive record better than 12 other teams, but only 2 teams in the entire league scored less. Bradbury, Hackett and Davies were strikers. Go fig.

Dead cat bounce

This is a chronicle of the march to a Champions League final. Well, I hope so. Though, in truth, I doubt it. On May 6th 2006 Oxford United were confirmed as the 91st best team in the country. Sadly, this also means the second worst team in the football league. With it came the ignominy of relegation out of the football league into the Nationwide Conference.

Their last game was the best the 12,500 all seater Kassam Stadium has ever seen. A ripsnorting 2-3 defeat in front of a capacity crowd which was supplemented by hundreds of people peering in the stadium’s gaping open end. It was a game of high drama and tension which ended in catastrophe. To have hit the bottom in this way seems like a good place to start a new blog on the subject.

At least I assume it’s the bottom. Oxford’s highs have been fairly stratospheric for a club of its size, in 1985 it was promoted to what is now called the Premier League, they won the 1986 Football League Cup in front of 100,000 people at Wembley. Now they are winners of the world’s biggest dwarf competition, occupying a league where a crowd of 1,000 is deemed good going. Oxford could indeed fall further down the ‘Non-League Pyramid’ though beyond the Conference, I’ve no idea what that’s made up of.

The story of how Oxford hit the bottom will no doubt fill up this blog during the dark winter months, but in the meantime, we will while away the summer months depicting the preparations for next season and musing on what might happen.