George Lawrence’s Shorts – To Hull and back

Saturday 15 July
They don’t have sun in Hull, which is why they cowered at the thought of what the great fireball in the sky might do to them in Portugal. As players huddled in groups looking to the heavens saying things like ‘is it me or is that thing getting closer?’ Wes ‘tap in’ Thomas, scored two trademark close range goals in a 2-1 win. Our unbeaten Portugese adventure all but confirming our promotion to the Championship next May.

Monday 17 July
Professional grudge magnet Chris Wilder tabled a £500,000 bid for John Lundstram. Lunny has played over a 100 attractive free-flowing games for Oxford in two years, so it might be a relief to take a break from that for a year or two. Twitter was disgusted at the derisory fee on the basis that Kyle Walker’s just signed for Manchester City for £54m. Using a not entirely clear logic involving comparing apples with bananas, Lunny must be worth at least, depending on who you ask, half or twice that much. This is true; HS2 is costing £42bn and that can’t ding a forty yard crossfield pass beyond Rochdale’s defence for shit.

Tuesday 18 July
The Oxford Mail did an interview with PClot in which he tells us that he likes heavy metal, full backs bombing on and that he would choose the Flammulated owl if he ever went to Hogwarts, or something. He wouldn’t reveal the most famous person on his mobile phone which means it’s either Garry Monk’s mum or several prominent members of ISIS.

Yes, it was that quiet a day until it was announced that we’d signed someone called Xemi from Barcelona, who appears to be a Spanish Danny Rose or the Hispanic Yemi depending on which Twitter joke you prefer. Xemi claims the move is a dream come true, as a boy back in Catalonia he idolised Matt Murphy and was teased by his friends for trying to emulate his hero by missing open goals and generally getting the blame for everything.

Wednesday 19 July
Apart from professionally organised defences, the most notable absence in the 3-4 goal monsoon against Brentford was the absence of John Lundstram. Afterwards, the club all but confirmed that he’s heading for Sheffield United. So riled by Michael Appleton’s claim that Oxford were the best League 2 team in 2016, Chris Wilder seems to be going all R Kelly and luring Oxford players into an abusive sex cult.

Thursday 20 July
It’s the day they’re calling Oxford’s Hiroshima. Not only is Lundstram going, but the player who nobody has heard hide nor hare of since May and applauded the crowd against Shrewsbury in a gesture which screamed ‘Bye I’m signing for another club’ actually then had the audacity to sign for another club. Yep, Chris Maguire has gone to Bury. It’s OK fellas, we survived Danny Hylton going to Luton, we’ll get through this.

George Lawrence’s Shorts – bras, booze and Boro

Saturday 8 July
Eskimos have fifty words for snow, which is nothing compared to the ways Oxford City have found to tell people they have a new pitch. It was carpet burns aplenty as their older, more sophisticated cousins traveled to Court Farm on Saturday to play a team in blue and white hoops on a plastic pitch  for the first time since QPR in the 1980s. Those were simpler times, of course, when the name Simon Stainrod wasn’t considered funny. Still, a 3-0 win was a satisfactory way of starting pre-season, although as we know with friendlies, it’s not the result that counts but more what we learn from the exercise, which, in this case, is precisely nothing.

Monday 10 July
Fearful of being subjected to foreign muck, PClot has packed as much patatas bravas as he can carry and has taken the team to Portugal. This is the trip where the Yellow Army march in their espadrilles to colonise small balconies of holiday apartments with their Oxford flags and then put the pictures on Twitter. Last year Chris Maguire and Joe Rothwell appeared mid-way through the week like two members of a stag party who’d disappeared one night and had an experience that they will never talk of again. Faz reckons there may be similar signings during the week, but let’s face it, Faz is on holiday and is already quite drunk.

Tuesday 11 July
Twitter is alight with fans’ pictures of ice cold lagers set against the cobalt blue skylines as well as official pictures of the players glistening in sweat wearing those tight bras which appear to be the fashion these days. I guess just because they’re sports people doesn’t mean they don’t want to feel feminine and desirable. In what is increasingly looking like a campaign to make Aaron Martin feel as inadequate as possible, former Wolves defender, Mike Williamson is wearing a bra with the rest of the squad this week.

Wednesday 12 July
Talk about Portugese football immediately evokes memories of the past; names drift through the air with a vividness that you can almost taste; names like Eusebio, Benfica and, above all, Middlesbõrõúgh. For those who don’t know, Middlesbõrõúgh is a small fishing town just along the coast from Albufiera famous for its fresh mackerel (Note to editor: check facts before publishing please). I don’t know much about their team, but I assume it’s full of moustachioed ice-cream sellers and waiters with an unhealthy interest in young female tourists, which makes the 0-0 draw all the more disappointing.

Earlier in the day, James Henry jetted in to do a Chris Maguire and signed after his release from Wolves. According to FIFA, Henry is a winger with a total IGS 1789, whatever that means. He plays down the opposite flank to Marvin Johnson. Having two flying wingers makes for an exciting prospect in the future, and when I say future, I mean the near future before Johnson is sold next month.

Thursday 13 July
Not that these pre-season overseas jaunts are a Disneyland version of the Austrian original in 2015 but I’m beginning to think I should organise a pop-up Clumsy’s every year serving steins of lager in lederhosen. The latest tradition, between mini-golf and gutsy renditions of Sweet Caroline, are signings. If this year’s Chris Maguire was James Henry, then this year’s Joe Rothwell is Dwight Tiendalli. We now have more defensive assets than South Korea when Kim Jong Un has been on the bourbon.    

George Lawrence’s Shorts – the week

Saturday 2nd July
Frank Lampard, Patrick Kluivert, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink; sounds like a line-up of pundits for the BBC’s coverage of the World Cup. In fact it was the candidate list for Oxford United’s next manager. Despite this stellar line-up, the club finally announced former Leeds and Swansea assistant hombre, Pep Clotet as its new manager. Everyone wished him well, including his former boss, Garry Monk, who is most famous for playing five games on loan at the Manor in 2001.

Monday 3rd July
Allegedly, Clotet started work, although there was no media unveiling; no picture of him holding a shirt, no scarf snaffled from the club shop, not even a branded football in sight. Instead, it seems, he was shown the toilets, given the code for the photocopier and left to read the health and safety manual while people working in the ticket office eyed him with suspicion.

Tuesday 4th July
Day 2 and PClot remains under-wraps – today Faz took him to Sainsbury’s at Heyford Hill to buy his lunch – olives and grilled vegetables from the deli for Pep, triple BLT on white bread and a can of Coke for Faz – his wife will kill him if she finds out. Meanwhile, Oxford City manager Mark Jones is excited to be playing against the new manager, who he’s admired him ever since he heard about him about a week ago.

Wednesday 5th July
He talks! Clotet is finally unveiled as manager to a panting media corp. Flanked by ubiquitous media titan Chris Williams and with Faz in a pair of disconcerting shorts in the audience, Darryl Eales was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps the trippy carpet design in the conference centre aggravates his vertigo. Williams did his job, aside from making it look a bit like we were revealing a new left-back signing from our Conference days, ensuring Clotet referred to beating Swindon seven times in a row, not including the Checkatrade, but including the JPT (aka NITCBITJPT). Fans were in rapture at Pep’s entirely unscripted off-the-cuff remark. Here’s a man who has clearly been following our progress with close interest. We await his analysis of Wayne Biggins’ ill-fated short career spearheading the Oxford attack in 1995.

Thursday 6th July
In the undeniably sexually charged sado-masochistic relationship between the club and its fan, when things go a little too far you just have to say the word ‘Chris Maguire’ and the nipple clamps are taken off and the electric charge on your anal probe is turned down to a tolerable level. Conversely, you just have to say Sam Deering and your genitals get tied up in garden bind and you’ll be racially abused, some nurses like it, though presumably not many. Pep’s been discussing players with the club’s highly secretive ‘recruitment department’. Imagine a sitting of the Jedi council, but with Maurice Evans and Brian Talbot as holograms. Dr X, the recruitment team’s sinister overlord, sitting in his underground lair shouted ‘Chris Maguire’ and our faltering summer of recruitment was resolved, joy unrestrained via Twitter although the exact phrase may have been ‘Chris Maguire’s still not answering his phone’.

During PClot’s close analysis of our seven-in-a-row (NITCBITJPT), Donegal’s finest, Jonathan O’Bika’s talents caught his eye. The more tribal Oxford fans were questioning whether the Spaniard knew us at all by enticing someone to cross the A415 at Kingston Bagpuize, but those who are getting their knickers in a twist about the move are forgetting the success of our last Swindon convert, Medhi Kerrouche.

Friday 7th July
The away kit is revealed and it’s black. This was predicted by teen soothsayer Oxbible months ago, but it’s not the reboot of the home shirt he predicted. This puts paid to several jokes I’d pre-prepared for the today. The one about Status Quo was particularly good. Still, it’s the first black kit since 2005/6; a celebration of that auspicious year in which we were relegated from the Football League. Ah, happy days.