Kassam All Star XI – Left back

Paul Powell was the best player I ever saw in a yellow shirt. Better than Joey Beauchamp, better than John Aldridge, better than Matt Elliot. He lit up a dour team, all from left back. I thought he’d play for England. At one point he was heading for the Premier League. My Derby-supporting uncle heard rumour that County were in for him; “Is he, y’know, an English Powell” he said referring, I think, to the likes of the ‘foreign’ (or black) Powell’s Chris and Daryl, who were with the Rams at the time.

Powell’s problem is that he didn’t do it for very long. His career ended the night he sustained a bad injury in August 2000 at Walsall. Even though he limped on for another 3 years he was never the same again. He scored the first ever goal at the Kassam, and featured in the first league game, albeit not at the left-back position he often played.

In fact, we didn’t really have a left-back in the first game, unless you count Wayne Hatswell. Perhaps Mark Wright was blinded by Hatswell’s fame. He gained notoriety on Match of the Day as an illustration of the failings of the lower leagues, shanking one into his own net in a cup game playing for Forest Green. He wasn’t a player, more a curiosity. Like Jimmy Glass.

As always, it took Ian Atkins to bring a degree of sanity to the situation. He brought in Matt Robinson, who held the position for four years until we were relegated. In his pomp, Robinson looked like he should have been playing 2 divisions higher up. He struggled to hold his form as the baton was passed from one manager to the next. By the time we were relegated, he looked like a man who was just fed up with it all. As a result, he went off to become a policeman.

Robinson was replaced by 37-year-old Gavin Johnson. For a period he looked like just the player we needed; experienced and capable. When he became incapable – first by injury and then by the march of time – he was replaced by another 37-year-old, Rufus Brevett. By the end of that season, as we clung onto the hope of scraping back into the league, the left-back slot was being swapped between two men with the combined age of 74. And it showed. Both retired shortly after the season ended.

Alex Jeannin, Chris Carruthers and Kevin Sandwich all babysat the position to no great effect. Chris Wilder wasn’t have any of that and finally brought Anthony Tonkin who took us back to the League. Tonkin’s rather laid-back style and occasional lack of concentration meant that in a position that’s been traditionally weak for us since the days of Paul Powell, he’s not getting the nod for the All Star Team.

I’m giving the position to Matt Robinson, for a period brilliant, for most of the time competent. And that, my friends, just about gets you in at left-back.

News round-up: So much news it makes you giddy

Signings, fixtures and a new kit; a new season is on its way. Thankfully, perhaps, it’s still over a month away. In between is the pre-season programme, which is a bit like watching Big Brother. Much as you try to avoid it you can’t help but take some notice and then when you do you find yourself wrapped up in the minutiae of what it all means.

Friendlies are, gulp, 2 days away. In the meantime, let’s bask in the summer sun, enjoy the sound of leather on willow and taste the strawberries and cream at Henley.

Fuck that, let’s check out the new kit. John Murray who presumably couldn’t be arsed to go to the Family Fun Day tantalisingly described the new shirt as ‘traditional yellow’. Photos don’t give much away but it does look like it has standard issue Carlotti styling similar to the away kit. Hopefully this means it will have better quality workmanship than the last iteration. I only hope that we’ve ditched the faded in the wash yellow for something brighter. I’ve always thought; if you’re going to go yellow – it might as well be bright yellow.

What’s more, it appears two more signings have been made – Chris Carruthers and (apparently) Lewis Haldane. Caruthers has been sprung from Bristol Rovers, although it’s no shock to see some Northamptonshire in his blood. Given the typical career path of an Oxford player expect him to sign for Torquay at the end of his contract. Carruthers might be a bit shy, because he’s brought Haldane with him from The Gas. Haldane appears to have no links to Northamptonshire, which can’t be right and maybe the reported sticking point in his contract negotiations.

What is probably most shocking of both these players is that with a little research, you find there is good will amongst the fans towards both of them. Which might mean they’re good players. And that just can’t be right.