The chisel-faced Ant and Dec, Sam Ricketts and Dean Whitehead were left fuming after Josh Vela was sent off at 2-0 up resulting in a dramatic turnaround and a 3-2 win for Oxford over Shrewsbury. Ricketts was left stoney-faced; which was nothing to do with the decision, it’s just Ricketts’ granite like features.
In the wake of a global pandemic the PFA have issued advice to clubs to not share bottles. The CoVid19 is a respiratory virus which is particularly dangerous for the old and infirm. The club have issued an edict to the players to follow government advice, principally to protect Derek Fazackerley.
Thursday 12 March 2020
Oxford United’s head of coins, Tim Davies, who looks like he’s trying to build the Channel Tunnel with a knife and fork, was on the Nine Minute Three Seconds Fans Forum. He said the main difference between the 2018/19 accounts and the previous year was a £2m difference in player trading. Shocking to find that the value of John Lundstram and Marvin Johnson leaving was not matched by the departures of Dwight Tiendelli and Agon Mehmeti.
Friday 13 March 2020
Woo hoo! It’s football tomorrow with the visit of MK Dons, we’re so excited a plague of locusts wouldn’t keep us away.
As they say in Game of Thrones; The North Remembers, unfortunately the south forgets. In the hullabaloo about new contracts and released players last week, the name T’ony McMahon was completely overlooked. The whippet worrying full-back remains on our books despite spending a good chunk of the year on loan at Scunthorpe who he helped steer to a comfortable relegation spot last season. KRob doesn’t expect him to return south next year; he doesn’t want to take a “bad signing and make it into a good signing.”; applying his trademark bewildering logic. Some would argue he spent a decent part of last season achieving the exact opposite. Not us, though, not us.
They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger; so we can say with a degree of confidence that nobody killed Robbie Cundy during his time at the Kassam. With his career solidly rooted in a single Oxford United appearance against Dagenham and Redbridge in the JPT in 2015, Cundy dropped out of the Football League in 2017 eventually joining Bath City. As a result of his performances as The Romans’ Jake Wright to their Ryan Clarke, who also happens to be the actual Ryan Clarke, Bristol City have signed him up on a two-year contract.
Johnny Mullins has retired. Mullins was part of the promotion winning team of 2016 before leaving for Luton Town. He was at Cheltenham Town last season, but has chosen to jack it all in. Mullins was known as as The Magnet because he twice scored from a corner in 127 games. At approximately 5 corners a game, that’s a magnetism of 0.2%. Coincidentally, he also has an excellent, if slightly pricey range of kitchens.
KRob has spoken. Let’s face it this is not an unusual thing, he seems to have spoken continuously since the end of the season. So much so that it’s possible he’s still standing pitchside at Kenilworth Road speaking to an increasingly weary Nathan Cooper. That’s probably not true, although it’s exactly the kind of thing he’d do, isn’t it? His latest ejaculation focuses on his wish list for next season. Nothing remarkable about the list, although he did mention that he was hoping to bring back Wonderfoot Luke Garbutt and ban-magnet Ahmed Kashi and the sloth in the box, Jerome Sinclair.
Saturday 18 May 2019
It’s theday that the whole nation stops, gathers together around the TV set and watches a great annual institution play out in front of them. As well as Eurovision, it’s also the FA Cup final. It’s Watford’s first appearance since 1984 when they were captained by former Oxford United player and now Youth Team Officer Les Taylor. You can read him banging on about it like your drunk uncle here.
Our week closes with the news that conscientious objector Callum O’Dowda has joined us the the Republic of Ireland squad. Nothing unusual about that except he hasn’t played for Bristol City since March due to a mystery injury. Always a highly principled young man, O’Dowda and his medical team have searched for a diagnosis. It appears that it could be suffering from a broken contract resulting from an inflated ego with a number of Championship and Premier League teams interested in his signature. All very treatable if you apply a great pile of money to it.
Before it was infested by Under 23 Premier League teams, the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy was a half decent tournament. At least when you got to the final. The last to maintain its integrity was 2016 where we faced Barnsley in the final. It was a joyous affair, despite the 3-2 defeat. Where are those brave men now?
Likeable weak link in an otherwise relentlessly effective team. Shared glove-based responsibilities with Sam Slocombe for most of the season. Replaced by Simon Eastwood once promotion was confirmed. Eventually went to Barnet on loan where he was briefly announced as playing for their ladies team. Now at FC Vaduz, he’s been capped by Lichenstein over 20 times and recently played against Italy.
More than capable right-back signed on loan from Everton filling a not inconsiderable hole left by George Baldock. Slotted seamlessly into the team under the tutelage of Alex MacDonald. Headed back to Everton, playing the final game of the 2015/16 season. He was part of the England team which won the Under 20 World Cup in 2017. Has spent most of his time since in and out of their starting eleven at The Toffees.
Johnny Mullins (captain)
Started the season as a first choice centre-back before falling down the pecking order. Captained the side due to Jake Wright not being fully fit. Headed for Luton at the end of the promotion season where he won promotion, before joining Cheltenham.
Cheyenne Amarni Keanu Roma Dunkley cemented a place in Oxford United folklore at Wembley by doing a Cruyff turn in his own box. Also managed to score Barnsley’s first goal. Spent most of the season overcoming Johnny Mullins in the centre of defence. Scored a decisive goal against Wycombe to seal promotion, dominant in our first year in League 1 before signing for Wigan Athletic. Won promotion to The Championship the following season.
Signed on loan from Fulham in January 2016, played only nine games before heading back. Started due to an injury to Joe Skarz. A Welsh Under-21 international, his professional career petered out, playing for Wrexham and Bala Town before ending up at Cefn Druids, A man with hidden talents, Evans is a qualified hairdresser and plays in the band Faded Strangers.
Lovable tireless winger signed from Burton at Michael Appleton’s lowest ebb. Boundless enthusiasm for the game dragged us out of the fug and into the 2015/16 season. A regular through the promotion year before being unceremoniously sold to Mansfield Town.
Oxford United survivor originally signed by Chris Wilder from Coventry City. Made the starting eleven due to a lunging John Lundstram tackle which gained a red card and a ban. Players came and went, as did managers, but Ruffels stayed. Mostly played in midfield, but converted to full-back under Karl Robinson, became a specialist in spectacular last minute goals.
Wide shouldered marauding midfielder whose goals from midfield were critical to pretty much everything we did well that season. Scored a decisive goal at Carlisle at the end of the season. The following season in League One he continued his good form until he fell out with Michael Appleton, possibly over his reaction to only being a substitute in the JPT Final against Coventry the following season, where he also scored. Signed for Bristol Rovers in the summer.
Career-minded local boy flitted in and out of the team throughout the promotion season. Scored the opener in the final to wild celebration. Also scored the last goal of the season against Wycombe before flouncing off to Bristol City in the summer. A Republic of Ireland international.
Ethereal goal machine who initially joined on loan from West Brom. Heralded a new era when he was announced as a permanent signing the following summer, smashed in over 20 goals before joining Leeds United for £4m.
Precise, analytical, focussed – everything that Michael Appleton was, Danny Hylton wasn’t. Signed by Gary Waddock weeks before the Darryl Eales revolution took hold. Stuck to the first team like chewing gum on your shoe. Scored the second goal which briefly raised hopes of a revival. At the end of the season, he headed for Luton Town where he won promotion. More recently spent most of his time cheerleading from the sidelines as Luton head for the Championship.
Initially signed to replace Ryan Clarke, Slocombe’s patchy form saw him chopping and changing with Benji Buchel throughout the season. Missed out on Wembley, but played in our 3-2 giant killing over Swansea. The signing of Simon Eastwood pushed him out the door to Blackpool. Lasted a year before going to Bristol Rovers. Loaned to Lincoln in 2019.
A leader of men who was signed by Chris Wilder in 2010. Won promotion to the Football League at the end of that year. Injury meant he missed out on being the first Oxford United player to play at Wembley twice. Led the team to promotion, but re-joined Chris Wilder at Sheffield United in a defensive re-shuffle when Curtis Nelson arrived. Won promotion with the Blades where he still is, albeit now sidelined by injury.
A player who seemed to be so frequently injured, successive managers didn’t have the heart to release him. Survived Michael Appleton, Pep Clotet and became a regular in Karl Robinson’s starting eleven.
Once heralded as the future of the football club; Ashby achieved just seven appearances before being released. Signed for Oxford City.
George Waring (replaced Callum O’Dowda)
A proper unit signed on loan from Stoke City, flitted in and out of the team scoring once. Following a series of loan moves he headed for Tranmere before joining Chester in 2019.
Chris Maguire (replaced Alex MacDonald)
Enigmatic magician signed on loan from Rotherham. Sulked from one club to another, disgusted by the mediocrity around him. At Oxford, however, he bloomed and signed permanently in 2016. Scored twice in a derby win over Swindon and generally oozed genius. Appleton’s departure scuppered chances of a renewed contract where he made a disasterous move to Bury. Following their relegation he was signed by Sunderland where he initially regained form. Slipped out of the reckoning as the season progressed.
Jordan Bowery (replaced Danny Hylton)
One of numerous target men that Michael Appleton signed. Unlike most of the others, he weighed in with seven goals during his time with the club including a critical winner at Portsmouth. Dropped to the Conference with Leyton Orient where he failed to find any form. Signed on loan with Crewe before being made permanent, scoring twenty goals for the club.
The last game of the 1995/96 season, the week before we’d snuck into the automatic promotion places after a scintillating late season run. One more game, three more points, and then Denis Smith can wear a ginger wig and claim to be a future England manager.
To some extent Chris Maguire at Oxford was the equivalent of a torrid passionate holiday romance. Intense and enjoyable, but short-lived and unsustainable. That’s partly because of the man himself, a man who thrives at being on the edge, but not somebody who you’d rely on to pay the mortgage.
There’s a reason why Maguire’s not playing at a higher level; because as good as he can be, at some point it is very likely he’s going to fall off the edge and either damage himself, or worse, others.
He couldn’t be Chris Maguire without being Chris Maguire. If he was a dependable pro, we wouldn’t have signed him because either he wouldn’t have been good enough or he’d have been playing at a higher level. Michael Appleton found a space for him to operate in which allowed him to thrive while at the same time not scupper the team. Whether that could be sustained, particularly under new management, is difficult to tell; at what point would Maguire outgrow his space or simply not fit into it anymore?
Maguire’s talent was undoubted and there were moments during his time at Oxford where he was thrillingly exciting to watch. But, as a rule, I’m not that keen on mavericks, they’re fun at first, but because to be who they are requires them to first feed their own ego and id. I once spent an evening with a fairly prominent Oxford legend, at first it was great, hearing stories and generally having a laugh, but as time went on things became not so much darker, just increasingly tedious. There’s a point at which what makes someone good also makes them unbearable. On the pitch the team will often, eventually, suffer when these people are allowed to dominate. That’s either because they blow themselves apart just at the point you need them most, or they destabilise the team. Look at someone like Nigel Jemson, a regular goalscorer, a pain in the backside for opponents, but one who was also happy to publicly berate his team mates for not passing to him.
Of course, the fans love players like Maguire because they act like fans would if they had the ability to play professionally. In the past, that might have been because they could drink a skinful – John Durnin or David Rush. In the internet age, fan favourites are the football equivalent of online trolls – Danny Hylton or Chris Maguire. Sometimes that has a positive impact on the team, because it would defuse stressful situations, sometimes it explodes in your face.
Take, for example, Maguire’s trolling of Swindon last season, he scored the goals that gave us the win at home, but Swindon were particularly poor and although the showmanship may have added sheen of the victory, did he do something that others couldn’t? I’m not sure, I think we’d have beaten them anyway, someone else would have scored, but they wouldn’t have been as flamboyant about it.
Then take his role in one of the goals against Fleetwood at home where we needed him to be more on the money, he lost the ball unnecessarily at the corner flag trying to play his way out of trouble, which cost us points. In terms of recovering the four points we need to make the play-offs, that could have been one, maybe three that were thrown away.
The point is that although Maguire was a fan favourite, and he was exciting to watch, was his contribution efficient? Maybe not as efficient as we’d like to think; that’s why Maguire is Maguire who signed for Bury and not for someone higher. One of the characteristics of teams promoted last year was their ruthless and unrelenting efficiency. So Maguire’s departure is sad because it strangles more personality out of the squad and club, but it might just squeeze a few more points out of the season.