George Lawrence’s Shorts: Extension Robellion

Saturday 5 September 2020

Uh oh, who’s that with the lute and the harlequin tights frolicking through the bluebells? Why, it’s GLS The Bard. Bard, what song have you for us this very day?

Hey nonny, nonny…

#There was a young man called Cameron Brannagan
In the League Cup he played the Wimbledon
He got one goal, then slotted in again
Good old Cameron Brannagan begin again.#

And while GLS The Bard dislodges his lute from The Place Lutes Shouldn’t Fit, we can also report that KRob excitedly announced that he’s about to put pen to paper on a new contract.

Sunday 6 September 2020

The Bellshill Bounder, Chris Maguire, has been singing the praises of Kemar Roofe predicting that his old chum will net 20 goals for Rangers this season. “He often played on either wing” said Maguire “Occasionally, he’d be put through the middle, he was excellent at getting in behind and running channels. He made that role his own”. What role is that Chris? The Headless Chicken?

There was plenty of hand sanitizer available as sweaty men gathered to fumble their ball bags for the second round draw of the Type 2 Diabetes Cup. Oxford drew the team they call The Waitrose Luton; Watford.  

Monday 7 September 2020

You’ve got to have a bit of luck in football; and there’s none luckier than Dean Saunders. Last year Deano avoided jailtime having been caught speeding, swerving over the road and refusing to take a breathalyser test while stinking of alcohol because it would have prevented him from carrying out his live saving work as a football pundit. Now, it seems he’s been smearing white rabbits all over his perm, because despite his bin-fire of a managerial career, he’s been listed as a possible manager of New York Red Bulls. The attraction of the energy drink to dampen the effects of his hangovers is likely to be a key draw. 

Tuesday 8 September 2020

As we’re driven into oblivion by a government kowtowing to Russian oligarchs, openly breaking international law and killing your gran for the benefit of Pret A Manger, there are only two things that will survive armageddon; cockroaches and the EFL Trophy.

On Tuesday we took on the “Chelsea” Muppet Babies in our first group game winning 2-1. Dan Agyei cleaned up the first before Derick Osei Yaw stayed cool Trigger and got the second. 

Wednesday 9 September 2020

He talks a racket, he earns a packet, his coat’s like Missy Elliot’s puffa jacket; KRob has signed his new contract. The deal will take him through to 2024; or as it will then be known, the 9th national lockdown. 

Thursday 10 September 2020

When GLS was a young boy, he was sent to the Netherlands to find himself and become a man. After several kilograms of Bubba Kush and a seven foot German in a sailor suit called Dietmar, he returned transformed. A similar fate surely awaits Liverpudlian wunderkind Ben Woodburn, who has been loaned out to Sparta Rotterdam for the season.

Friday 11 September 2020

KRob’s celebrating his new contract with a special treat, signing Sam Winnall who had been released by Sheffield Wednesday. The man they call The Ginger Danny Hylton should be available for the start of the new season. Yes, after wins over Wimbledon and “Chelsea”, it’s time to roll out the big guns and start the season for real with a trip to MApp’s Lincoln City. It’s a big season for a lot of players with Jedward Orphan Mark Sykes unphased by being given the number 10 shirt. ‘It’s got such a rich history’ Sykes may have said ‘I’m going to do everything I can to follow in the footsteps of the greatest Oxford United number 10s like Courtney Pitt, Jamie Guy and Craig Farrell.’ Legends every one of them.

Cheltenham 1 Yellows 1

I sometimes wonder whether it’s time for the country to start thinking about its retirement. We’ve been very successful, way more successful than our size would indicate.

The recession did it for me; I decided that I’d had enough of trying to keep up with roaring house price inflation and buying the biggest fucking car someone else will finance for you at an astronomical APR. Instead, the attraction of a quieter more localised happiness grew ever more compelling.

On Tuesday night we sold out the away end at Cheltenham whilst at Chelsea, Stamford Bridge was noticeably empty for their Champions League tie against Marseille.

Let’s face it, there were still a lot of people watching Chelsea, but this is a club and competition that anjoys blanket media coverage, whilst Cheltenham v Oxford is an early season local skirmish of two mid-table teams. Pound for pound, Cheltenham v Oxford was a more popular gig on the night.

I was at home but couldn’t be bothered to watch the WORLD’S BIGGEST CLUB COMPETITION. It wasn’t just the distraction of our game. I couldn’t be bothered to watch Manchester United the next day either. And, judging by the empty seats in Valencia neither could many others.

Perhaps it means nothing; but perhaps it means there’s shifting sand. Maybe people are fed up with trying to be absolutely humungous and, instead, are looking at things that make us happy in a more modest, but ultimately more rewarding way. Perhaps seeing a team working hard and being rewarded in the surrounds of Whaddon Road makes us happier than the predictable pantomimes of the so-called best.

Torquay 1 Yellows 1

Peter Rhodes-Brown said on Thursday that he would be happy with 4 points from the two away games. Given that Burton come to the Kassam on the 18th, I would go as far as saying that 4 points from the three games would be acceptable, so a point against Torquay was a good start.

Not promotion form, that, of course – although going back to the Cambridge win, 10 points from 15 would be pretty good going… certainly play-off form, maybe even championship form. Of course there’s some catching up to do, but like last year there is evidence that from a slow start Darren Patterson maybe starting to instil some confidence in the team; although fitness, form and a lack of suspensions are helping too. Goes to show the benefit of thinking more long term.

Such number crunching has got me thinking about the impact a global recession might have on Oxford. First and foremost, of course, a small business in debt with few assets is seriously exposed. But football clubs are generally quite robust in recessionary times, firstly, because foreclosing on a football clubs’ debt has very bad PR connotations, plus, in Oxford’s case – what the hell will the creditors gain by doing it? And, because going to a game on a Saturday offers some relief from the gloom, income holds up quite well.

What’s more, the concept of an expensive family away day to a Premiership ground may well be sacrificed for something more local; which will help Oxford who have few rivals in the locality. With careful ticket pricing and local promotion, we could benefit. Although there is a gulf in the quality of football between the Premiership and Conference, the resultant entertainment is not that different. Phil Trainer slamming the ball in for £15 is better value for money than Frank Lampard doing it for £55. With money tight, £40 (plus travel, food etc) to watch Lampard strike the ball with a little more panache may not be great value for money.

As for buying the ground, Firoz Kassam holds all the cards. Investment in land has good long term prospects and he may be happy for it to rot. In time, when the market picks up, he could level the stadium and build houses, shops and offices on it (planning regulations permitting). In the short term his portfolio will be taking a fairly serious hit at the moment and he may well look to liquidate some of his assets.

The Kassam Stadium complex is a good asset to have; plenty of land, in an affluent area with good commuter links. But it’s a football ground and, unlike a retail unit, not many companies need football grounds. He may stubbornly fix the price, but the market he’s selling into has but one potential customer. He may choose to lower his price (or change the terms of the deal) so to gain some cash to invest in something distinctly more marketable elsewhere; like house or offices.

All speculation of course, but perhaps there are reasons to be cheerful, if we play it right, which is where Kelvin Thomas is most important.

Comment: Oxford in the global football market place

Watching the Champions League Final and preparing to renew my season ticket made me ponder the question; “Can you support a football club without liking football?”

I wasn’t particularly looking forward to the Champions League final; as previous Chelsea v Manchester United encounters have been soporific. I also find it kind of depressing that one country should dominate a Europe-wide competition. In addition I rarely watch Premiership football and sensed a certain amount of relief that England are not participating in Euro 2008.

Firstly, the hyperbole gets me down. Yes, the Champions League Final was a great game, but it wasn’t representative of top flight football. My dad claimed that the Portsmouth v Cardiff Cup Final was ‘as bad as it promised to be’… to which I pointed out that it wasn’t as bad as the 2007 final between supposedly superior teams. Quality does not equal entertainment in football as much as the marketing tells you otherwise.

Secondly, top flight football has a level of tactical sophistication I can barely comprehend. It’s like Formula 1 racing – on the surface nothing ever happens, but someone wins in the end.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I no longer want to see Oxford playing in the top flight again. If we do, it will mean that we’re either being humiliated or we’re owned by a remote billionaire set on developing our brand for the global market place.

Perhaps it’s that the Premiership is unobtainable. Although, the recent experience of Reading and Hull, teams we’ve shared a league with in the last 1o years, suggest perhaps this isn’t true. But, if before I die, Oxford are playing in the Championship and we make a cup final (or even semi-final), I will be fully sated.

This might be a lack of ambition and one day I may find myself trekking to some Enormodome to see us lift the Champions League, but I think that it’s more likely that I’m de-coupling with a football brand I struggle to engage with.