Midweek fixture: Naughty boys

On paper, Gavin Whyte is one of the best prospects to come out of Northern Ireland in years. When he scored 106 seconds into his international debut against Israel last year he was being hailed as the future of football in the country.

Gavin Whyte is also, at least on paper, a normal functioning human being. If normal functioning human beings pull their trousers down and pull their willies while someone films them on their phone.

Whyte’s antics were posted in Twitter shortly after he was handed the George Best Breakthrough Award at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards. What precisely has ‘broken through’ is now subject to some speculation. Best would have been proud.

Whyte isn’t the first, and won’t be the last of the Oxford United naughty boys, here are a few more.

Ross Weatherstone

Ross Weatherstone was not even the best Weatherstone to play for Oxford in 2000. The younger brother of Simon was a solid, but unremarkable, full-back who made his debut in 1999. At the start of the 2000/01, Ross the Younger chose an odd way to upstage his brother when he was convicted for a racially aggravated assault on a taxi driver.

Adam Chapman

Days before our pivotal Conference Play-Off final, it was announced that midfielder Adam Chapman was due to face trial for causing death by dangerous driving. The conviction pivoted around the fact he was texting before ploughing into 77 year-old Tom Bryan. Chapman put in a virtuoso display at Wembley winning man-of-the-match and left the field in tears. He was sentenced to 30 months in a young offenders institute. Chris Wilder re-signed him on release and he periodically returned to the first team, making more headlines when he missed a game after scolding his nipple on baby milk.

Luke McCormick

Chris Wilder was never one to let a conviction get in the way of a decent signing. He signed Luke McCormick in 2013 when Ryan Clarke’s season was ended by injury. To be fair to everyone, McCormick was a free man having been released from prison following his conviction for causing death by dangerous driving which resulted in the death of two children. Driving while over the limit and without insurance he was sentenced to seven years in prison. After his release, Wilder needed an experienced keeper he could sign outside the transfer window; McCormick was playing for Truro City meaning he was free to sign.

Firoz Kassam

The shadow that has hung over Oxford United for nearly 20 years is Firoz Kassam. Kassam was never one to avoid a fight if he could help it. In 2002 he used a spurious technicality to get out of a speeding fine. Which is just the kind of upstanding guy he is.

Joey Beauchamp

Joey Beauchamp is a bona fide club legend, voted The Oxford United Player of the 90s. The following decade didn’t treat him so kindly. In 2009 he was convicted of being three times over the drink drive limit while driving along The Banbury Road. In mitigation, Beauchamp said that his life had gone down hill and he’d turned to drink after ‘an incident over an MFI kitchen’. The mind boggles.

Mark Wright

Mark Wright was an Oxford boy done good. Making his debut in 1981 he was sold to Southampton before moving on to Liverpool where he lifted the FA Cup screaming ‘You fucking beauty’ live on television in front of the grimacing dignitaries. After playing a pivotal role in England’s fabled 1990 World Cup campaign he became Oxford manager as the club moved to the Kassam Stadium in 2001. In the October, he was accused of racially abusing a linesman, Joe Ross in a game against Scunthorpe. An act made more unedifying in that it was ‘Kick Racism Out of Football’ day. Shortly after he was sacked.

Jefferson Louis

There’s little doubting Jefferson Louis’ conviction… for dangerous driving while disqualified. After his release, Ian Atkins signed him from Aylesbury United in 2001 where he became a cult hero almost before he’d made his debut. All arms and legs, his legend was cemented when he scored the winner in a 1-0 FA Cup tie over Swindon before he was seen, live on TV, flashing his bare arse while celebrating being drawn against Arsenal in the next round. Louis is still playing for Chesham United, his 37th (THIRTY-SEVENTH) club.

Steve Anthrobus

One thing Steve Anthrobus wasn’t known for was scoring, in 69 hopeless games he managed a total of four goals. It was something of a surprise, then, to find Anthrobus scoring in a very different way when he was caught having sex, on a picnic blanket indeed, with a woman who wasn’t his wife. He was convicted in 2007 for ‘outraging public dignity’.

Julian Alsop

Julian Alsop was a great steaming lummox. A footballing Hagrid, part-striker, part-Wookie. He was signed by Ian Atkins as a target man in his team of long-ball merchants. In 2004, while already on his way out of the club, Alsop was fired for unprofessional conduct. Legend has it, he was caught engaged in some harmless banter, shoving a banana up the arse of a young apprentice.

Graham Rix

Graham Rix was one of the finest coaches in the country. That’s what Firoz Kassam said, and who are we to judge a man with such impeccable judgement? One of the finest in the country and perhaps THE finest to have been convicted for sex with a minor. In 1999, Rix was literally forty-one years old when he was arrested for having sex with a fifteen year old girl in a hotel. Rix’s defence was that she made no ‘strong’ protest to his advance. Which is to suggest there were some weak protests. But they don’t count, do they Graham?

Kassam All Star XI – Strikers part 1

The attack for our first game at the Kassam was a real before and after shot. Andy Scott’s signing, during the wretched twilight months of The Manor, was truly truly horrible. Scott was a nice bloke, but an inflated deal spiked with bonuses proved the desperate state the club was in at the time.

Alongside Scott was Jamie Brooks; the prodigious talent perfect for a new era. I took him for granted, putting his precocious lob in the first game down to luck. He scored 10 goals, but I expected him to score 20. It’s hard to believe now that had everything gone to plan, his career would have been peaking now a decade on. A move to Arsenal was in the offing when he was struck down with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, it nearly killed him and along with it, his career. He stayed until 2006 but scored just three more goals.

Mark Wright knew that a novice and non-scoring striker were not going to sustain the revolution. He had Manny Omoyinmi – a Proto-Yemi Odubade – but when we needed more firepower, he turned to a very familiar face in Paul Moody.

Moody held a special position in the history of the club, spearheading the 1996 promotion team. He’d since hauled his leaden and broken body around Fulham and Millwall and was now 34. He had a much better time than people remember, but was treading water and eventually gave up the ghost after less than a season.

By this time Ian Atkins was at the helm, his signing of Steve Basham was very un-Atkins; whose teams preferred to drop bombs on strikers from upon high. Basham hung around for years, scored lots of goals, not one of which anyone can remember.

Towards the end of the 2001/2 season, a gangling lummox appeared on the touchline. That man was Jefferson Louis. Louis was a peculiar chap, occasionally in trouble with the law, loved by fans not least for his goal in the FA Cup win over Swindon, famous for showing off his naked backside to the nation on finding out we were going to Arsenal. He was unpredictable, which meant he was hated for what he was loved for. At one point Ian Atkins substituted him after about 20 minutes for simply not trying.

Eventually he headed off on the most mind-boggling tour of the lower and non-leagues. According to Wikipedia, Oxford were his third team, in the next seven years he played for TWENTY-FOUR more clubs. We last saw him being ineffectual for Rushden during our play-off semi-final win.

Julian Alsop was much more Ian Atkins’ kind of guy. For the period he was at the club, a true barometer for its psyche. When Atkins was in situ, Alsop was a dependable lump for defenders to launch balls at. One of my abiding memories was his miraculous last minute winning goal against Leyton Orient on Boxing Day in 2003. A man without pace, touch or finesse, out sprinted the Orient back-four before executing a sublime dink over the keeper. It was the impossible goal.

When Graham Rix arrived, discipline around the club collapsed and Alsop The Barometer was fired for ramming a banana up the arse of a youth teamer. Oh yes.

Jamie Brooks’ story is the story of the Kassam. He had the ability to go all the way, but there was something dark lurking preventing it all, a curse that struck at a key moment. And for that, and his talent, Jamie Brooks is the first striker in the Kassam All-Star XI.