George Lawrence’s Summer Shorts – Going, going, gone?

Saturday 15 May 2021

Cameron Brannagain has been asked, again about a possible move to Preston North End in the summer. With three days until he plays in the play-off against Blackpool, Brannagain seemed reluctant to annoy literally everyone by speculating on his future. We’re shocked.

Monday 17 May 2021

We’re getting to that point in the season where football clubs release their ‘retained list’. As in, we retain the right not to pay you and we retain a preference to change the code on the front door to the training ground. Dan Crowley has been not retained by Birmingham while Donegal’s finest Jon O’Bika is unretained by St Mirren.

Tuesday 18 May 2021

Tuesday was all about the fans, and reminding them what they’ve missed. As a result, the fans are now missing being pinned to their settees for months after fans returned to the Kassam on Tuesday to see Oxford be swept away 3-0 to Blackpool in the first leg of the play-off semi-final.

Wednesday 19 May 2021

The end of season’s best hackers table has been released and it turns out that Oxford are the third dirtiest team in the division. So proud. The club have kicked their way to seventy yellow and three red cards this season, which has only been bettered by Northampton Town and Charlton Athletic. Bookie monster, Alex Gorrin was seventh.

Thursday 20 May 2021

Courtney ‘shit shit shit’ Pitt has been talking about his “football career”. Now coaching players to loiter disinterestedly on the wing at Burton Albion, Pitt claims he was once pursued by both Barcelona and Monaco. Having seen him at the Kassam on loan in 2002, we assume he’d dropped something on a stadium tour and they wanted to give it back to him.

Friday 21 May 2021

They said it wasn’t possible, but he did it. KRob hatched a fiendish plan to score three goals against Blackpool in Friday’s second leg. Unfortunately he left it on the photocopier at Bloomfield Road, so Blackpool used it as well. The 3-3 draw saw Blackpool ease through to the play-off final 6-3.

Saturday 22 May 2021

They could be hearing the pitter patter of tiny feet in Yorkshire soon; scuttling Joe Rothwell is wanted by Sheffield United. Meanwhile there’s a full-on Oxford-off going on at West Brom; speculation is that both Chris Wilder and MApp, and maybe even KRob, are on the short list to fill the vacant manager’s slot. Gary Waddock is said to be disappointed, but available to talk.

Sunday 23 May 2021

KRob has given a proper ‘Who? Little old me?’ to the speculation linking him to the vacant job at West Brom. “It’s probably because me and Sam [Allardyce] worked together for two years.” he said possibly referring to Big Sam’s grandson who briefly signed for the club a few years ago “I don’t really have the energy to talk about any other job.” he said, talking about another job. Could we be in Denis Smith’s ‘They were talking about me being the England manager’ territory?

Monday 24 May 2021

Forgotten Jedward triplet Joel Cooper will be packing his knapsack and heading back over the Irish Sea to seek his fortune back at Oxford this summer. On loan at Linfield while sorting out some family issues, Cooper scored in the Irish Cup Final as Linfield lifted the trophy, which has whetted his appetite for more silverware. He’s now eyeing an EFL Trophy, Oxfordshire Senior Cup double next year. And they said it couldn’t be done.

Tuesday 25 May 2021

Oxford have released their retained list; which includes players they can’t release because they’re under contract, alongside players they plan to not retain. Up and coming centre-back, Jose’s son John Mousinho, has been offered a new contract, alongside Anthony Forde.

Meanwhile Jedward orphan Mark Sykes’ season is far from over, he’s nearly made the Republic of Ireland squad for their upcoming friendlies. He’s fully prepared for the match with a four pack of Fanta in the fridge, some Doritos and a Tex Mex dip combo ready to go.

Wednesday 26 May 2021

Sulky sixth former Rob Dickie may be stepping up a level with Steve Bruce keen to snap him up for Newcastle United from QPR after a successful first season in West London. It’ll be a meteoric rise for Dickie although his mum was hoping he’d take an aeronautical engineering apprenticeship at BAE Systems after he’s finished his degree. 

Thursday 27 May 2021

Sunderland fans are eyeing up former Oxford loanee Todd Kane, who has been told he can leave QPR. Can he play? They ask. Will he fit in? They wonder. Will he crumble as we boo him for 90 minutes because we think we’re entitled to win the division? They queried.

Friday 28 May 2021

KRob has paid tribute to Instagram influencer, Nico Jones, as he leaves the club. ”It’s not the end of the road for him in his career. I think he feels going out playing men’s football and being released is better for him and we felt it was as well.” There’s nothing like a bit of redundancy to make you a man. No doubt, he’ll soon be gracing the greatest theatres of football that the Conference South has to offer.

Saturday 29 May 2021

Recently gelded Premier League sophisticat Chris Wilder is now favourite to take over at West Brom. The club have undergone extensive interviews to find the right man, and, having failed to do that, are lining up Wilder ahead of Frank Lampard, whose managerial credentials include looking handsome in a winter coat.

Sunday 30 May 2021

It’s like a closing down sale at Mountain Warehouse around here; now Jedward orphan, and not quite Irish international, Mark Sykes is being lined up with a move to Ipswich Town. At this rate we’ll open the season with Amy Cranston in the back-four and Martin Brodetsky as a holding midfielder.

Monday 31 May 2021

“Una paloma blancaaaaa” KRob is thinking of his summer holibobs with the lads. Pre-season is up in the air because of the pandemic, but he’s hoping to line up a ‘foreign giant’ to play during the summer, which we can only assume is Gérard Depardieu. “We want to be creative with the pre-season, we want to be better than ever before.” he said, better even than our previous best start of two wins in eight.

Tuesday 1 June 2021

The Sunderland Echo have been trying to come up with ways to show that Permier League Sunderland probably won the division after all. They’ve compared how the League 1 table finished to how it was predicted to finish, Oxford were predicted to finish 5th, but finished 6th

Wednesday 2 June 2021

With the Euros just around the corner, TV companies are lining up their expert pundits to give seeing insights into the play of some of the world’s greatest players. South African broadcaster Supersports have announced that former Oxford goalkeeper Andre Arendse will provide key insights into dropping crosses and slicing goal kicks into the stands. Arendse is such a household name around the world, the Illnois News call him Andrew Allense.

Thursday 3 June 2021

Rob Atkinson has been named in the PFA League 1 Team of the Year. The team is a veritable who’s that? of players you’ve only vaguely heard about. Atkinson is understandably chuffed; “It’s nice to win awards, quite humbling, and I am very proud to accept it but the goal for all of us was promotion and we will come back looking to go one better and hopefully achieve that next time around.” said the club’s communications team playing with their new Quote-o-matic app.

Friday 4 June 2021

More Rob Atkinson news as there might be a stumbling block in Bristol City’s bid to sign the defender. KRob has slapped an, entirely realistic and not in any way to be scoffed at, £2m price tag on his head. Atkinson has two-years left on his contract, so expect the club to play hardball in these negotiations. We say £2m, they say £200,000, we say £1.5m, they say £400,000, we say; OK, if we can have additional bonuses for when Atkinson captains the Republic of Congo to the World Cup.

Saturday 5 June 2021

Ambitious Josh Ruffels is heading all the way to the top… of the bottom of the Championship. KRob seems resigned to losing Ruffels and now glamorous second-tier survivors Huddersfield Town are said to be tracking the left-back.

Elsewhere, MApp is now odds-on to become the new West Brom manager, thwarting Chris Wilder. Wilder’s Premier League experience plays to his advantage, but West Brom are really looking for best footballing manager in the league.

George Lawrence’s Shorts – Countdown conundrums

Saturday 24 April 2021

It’s like Countdown around here, after the 3-1 win Plymouth on Saturday. The win propelled Oxford into the fifth. Teams around us have games in hand, but with plenty of opportunities to drop points, two wins from the last two games could still see Oxford make the top six. A consonant, please Rachel.

Sunday 25 April 2021

Following yesterday’s defeat, after conceding 16 goals in 6 games and losing 9 in their last 13 games Plymouth manager Ryan Lowe has become a great all-seeing sage by revealing a controversial theory about what’s going wrong at the Devon club. “We’re not good enough.” he said, sitting in the lotus position banging his chakra.

Monday 26 April 2021

KRob’s a fugitive on the run from the law, the Feds at the FA have got him banged to rights and charged him with ‘improper and/or violent conduct’ relating to the ill-tempered game against Premier League One side Sunderland earlier this month. KRob ended up doing porridge in the slammer during that game after referee Trevor Kettle sent him to the stands. Now he’s back in front of the beak, but he ain’t no grass. 

Tuesday 27 April 2021

Ole! The bookie monster Alex Gorrin has signed a contract extension until 2022 alongside Jedward Orphan Mark Sykes. Gorrin received lots of cards from friends to celebrate the news, mostly yellow ones for shin high lunging tackles.  

Wednesday 28 April 2021

From the GLS vaults labelled ‘are you absolutely shitting me?’ comes news that Burton Albion are planning to use our last game of the season for a virtual ‘staying up’ party. Burton were rock bottom of the table, but with Flimmy Joyd Basselhank at the helm they’ve climbed their way to safety, it’s now party time. 

Thursday 29 April 2021

The League One Team of the season has been revealed and Rob Atkinson has secured one of the centre-back spots. It’s been an impressive season for Atkinson who last year was playing non-league football at Eastleigh. Before that he was West Brom and Manchester United manager with a nifty line in sheepskin coats and chunky gold jewelry.

Friday 30 April 2021

As the season draws to the end, again, the rumour mill starts to turn, again, this time, it’s news that a Championship team are in the hunt, again, for Cameron Brannagain, again. This time it’s Preston North End who are interested in the midfielder. Brannagain would join Ryan Ledson at Deepdale; so expect a surge in sales of double-strength shin pads to the Championship next season. 

Saturday 1 May 2021

Oxford’s 3-2 comeback win over Shrewsbury Town on Saturday guaranteed that the season will go to the last day. A win over Burton could see the yellows sneak into the play-offs. There is some debate about how you pronounce Shrewsbury; does it rhyme with ‘lose’ as in ‘Shrewsbury lose to Oxford’ or does it rhyme with ‘throws’ as in ‘Shrewsbury throws away their lead again’?

Sunday 2 May 2021

The comb-over Sam Long, Dave Langan has been reflecting on mixing it with the hoi polloi during his time at Oxford United in the 1980s. As well as negotiating contracts with Robert Maxwell, he also spent time with Oxford director and alleged child sex trafficker, Maxwell’s daughter, Ghislane. “She seemed really down to earth. She was just like a normal person.” he said, unlike any of the sex trafficking, friend of a billionaire paedophiles he’d met before.

Monday 3 May 2021

KRob loves a good ding dong, and there’s a proper ding dang do coming up next Sunday. “Roll on next Sunday and the balls start rolling again.” he said eating a bacon roll, having a stroll, stroking a foal. 

Tuesday 4 May 2021

Sheffield United’s transformation into the t’Oxford is nearly complete as they seek a big gun to replace Chris Wilder. After Wilder, Jake Wright, John Lundstram and George Baldock; rumours are that Mr Big Guns himself, MApp, is the next Oxford alumni to join the club as manager. PClot’s Malmo 2010 WhatsApp group was buzzing at the prospect of getting the gang back together at Bramall Lane in a couple of years. Ago Mehmeti said he’ll make a big chilli for the reunion.

Wednesday 5 May 2021

KRob was in the dock on Wednesday as he faced a charge of improper and/or violent conduct after the shenanigans at Sunderland. Due to the pandemic, the case was held over Zoom, where the Oxford boss stated his case with passion and panache. “YOU HAVE NO AUTHORITY HERE”, he screamed “READ THE STANDING ORDERS, READ THEM AND UNDERSTAND THEM”.

Thursday 6 May 2021

McGuane in Spain was quickly on the plane, but he’s delighted to be taking the step up from playing for Barcelona, Arsenal and Nottingham Forest after signing a three year contract at Oxford.

Jose’s son John Mousinho is a real box-to-box-file player. He’s been elected as chair of the new PFA players’ board. This is not to be confused with the Playaz Board, which organises custom sports cars, expensive jewelry and spit roasting sessions for aspiring Premier League teenagers.  

Friday 7 May 2021

Life is like a box of chocolates for Josh Ruffels, he’s got his pick of the teams to sign for next season when his contract expires. Now rumours are surfacing that he could become a Nottingham Forest chump

George Lawrence’s Shorts: Evans outsized

Saturday 17 April 2021

Fatberg Steve Evans was left swimming in a vat of his own high saturated frustration on Saturday as Oxford United came back from 2-0 to beat Gillingham 3-2 with three goals in the last fifteen minutes including two from Headington United’s Sam Long. Evans was fuming at the result; he hasn’t been this angry since his Deliveroo delivery driver said he couldn’t fit his order of 18 buckets of KFC in the boot of his Skoda Fabia.

Sunday 18 April 2021

Celtic’s Mark Wilson – who Celtic fans describe as the best player ever to play for the club called Mark Wilson – has said that former Oxford loanee Jonjoe Kenny – a player so good they named him thrice – shouldn’t be offered a permanent deal when his loan runs out. Celtic have had a shock this season as they’ve found other teams willing to score goals against them. Wilson doesn’t see Kenny as the man to cynically reclaim the Scottish game for the minority.  

Monday 19 April 2021

Asked about the European Super League, KRob implored the powers that be to look at the bigger picture; the future of all Saturday night family entertainment. He fears for the prospects for the future Steve Brooksteins and Honey Gs of this world if the plans were to go ahead – “This is about the game that we love and to take away the X-Factor is going to dampen the passion.” he said. 

Tuesday 20 April 2021

On the anniversary of the Milk Cup win, it was eighties throwback night on Tuesday as Oxford travelled to the new Plough Lane to face Wimbledon. Oxford thought Heaven Was a Place on Earth when they took the lead through Josh Ruffels, James Henry received a Lady in Red card after his handball on the line gave away a penalty. Wimbledon then got the Eye of the Tiger, scoring twice in quick succession to secure a 2-1 win.

Wednesday 21 April 2021

Jose’s son John Mousinho has been elected to the PFA Players’ Board, an important role in a time of significant turmoil in the game. It’s important to give the players a voice on issues such as club finances, head injuries and the globalisation of the game. It also gives Mous the opportunity to buy a new clipboard and some box files from Rymans; ‘Watermelon shaped pencil case? Don’t mind if I do.’

Thursday 22 April 2021

It was the Seven Minute Twenty-Eight Second Fans Forum on Tuesday with Niall don’t call me Niall, it’s Niall McWilliams. The first question was about the stadiumsituation which was rapidly followed by a question about the stadiumsituation and then a question about the stadiumsituation. To which the answers can be summarised as ‘maybe’. McWilliams confirmed that the club were working on the assumption that the ground would be working at 50% capacity with no away fans next season; think the atmosphere of playing Accrington Stanley on a Tuesday night, but every week.

Friday 23 April 2021

The Peterborough Telegraph have gone all jet packs and power pills and looked at the team of the season based on, woo, statistics. Three Oxford players have made the cut based on, woo, statistics. Jack Stevens has bettered his expected saves by 7.6%, Rob Atkinson has 2.6% progressive runs per 90 minutes, Alex Gorrin has defensive duel success of 62.07%. Surprisingly Sam Long isn’t there, even though he has 100% no interest in this kind of claptrap.

George Lawrence’s Shorts: The Kettlebell-end

Saturday 27 March 2021

With no game on Saturday, the Manchester Evening News reminisced about the time Ronaldo visited Kassam in 2006, his first game in England after helping Wayne Rooney get sent off in the World Cup. The paper were shocked to report that Oxford fans didn’t seem willing to bow down in deference to the Portugese superstar booing him throughout the game. It’s almost as if they don’t care about Manchester United at all.

Sunday 28 March 2021

Tiger has moved to address the speculation surrounding a possible takeover by a consortium involving babyfaced billionaire Eric Thohir. ‘It’s speculation’ he said of the speculation.

Monday 29 March 2021

Oxford have released their accounts for 2019/20 and despite a global pandemic and the worst recession in a generation, the club have recorded a £1.5m profit. The good result has been put down to player sales and the contract the club signed with Health Secretary Matt Hancock to supply PPE to the NHS last year.

Meanwhile Jose’s son, John Mousinho has been speaking at the Sports Resolutions Conference about the links between heading the ball and dementia. Players must change their mindset, reported France 24 of Mous’s speech, ignoring the fact that a changing mindset is pretty much the one thing players are campaigning to avoid.

Tuesday 30 March 2021

Unnamed sources say Oxford are looking at Kabongo Tshimanga who is currently a Boreham Wood man, talking of Wood men, Andy Woodman has taken over at Bromley after leaving Premier League big guns Arsenal. Talking of big guns, Mr Big Guns, MApp is being lined up by Preston, but won’t be drawn on whether he’d be wilder on the Sheffield United job. Talking of wilder; Chris Wilder is being considered for the vacant role at Celtic.

Wednesday 31 March 2021

Oxford may be struggling in mid-table, but when it comes to shiny suits, top of the range BMWs and chunky gold jewelry, they are serious play-off contenders. No, Nigel Jemson isn’t back, the FA have released the amount that the club spent on agent fees in the last year. The club came fourth behind Hull City, Sunderland and Ipswich Town, spending nearly £300,000, which is a lot of Lynx aftershave. 

`Thursday 1 April 2021

Former Oxford keeper Andy Woodman has given his first interview since becoming manager of Bromley. In it, he talks about his many managerial inspirations “I’ve obviously worked with Alan Pardew for many years,” said Woodman who also spent many years working with Ian Atkins “I’ve been lucky enough to have a season with Arsene Wenger, which was brilliant.” he continued. Of course, it was only a matter of time before he would mention Ian Atkins. “I had my time with Steve McClaren, who’s a good guy to learn off.” Clearly leaving the best until last, he continued; “They’re all very good at what they do. Sam Allardyce too.”

Elsewhere, 1, 2, 3, 4… Toni Martinez has shown that anything Eddie Odhiambo-Anaclet can do, he can do better. Martinez’s Porto recently knocked Ronaldo’s Juventus out of the Champions League, it’s a long interview, so we assume he says that was an achievement only topped by equalising against Middlesborough in the FA Cup.

Friday 2 April 2021

Oxford United travelled north on Good Friday to play Trevor Kettle in Sunderland. Good Friday commemorate’s the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the cross. Kettle is a deeply religious man who has committed his life to making bizarre decisions in the name of god or Trevor Kettle as he calls him. He ceremoniously crucified Oxford’s play-off chances allowing Jack Stevens to be assaulted in the tunnel, sending off Mark Sykes, allowing Sunderland to play on and score while Cameron Brannagan was injured on the floor and then sending off KRob for protesting about it all. Hallelujah!

George Lawrence’s Shorts: Déjà Crewe

Saturday 14 November 2020

Might Oxford loanee Marcus McGuane be heading back to his parent club? Obviously, no, but it’s one of those weeks so let’s pretend he might and we care. Chris Hughton is currently the manager of Nottingham Forest, and, while it’s not certain that he’ll be manager of Nottingham Forest by the time you reach the end of this sentence, he’s currently assessing his options, including his loanees, in preparation for making some tweaks to his squad in January. 

Sunday 15 November 2020

Oxford head to crisis club Wigan Athletic on Saturday. It’s been a grim time for Wigan who are bottom of the table and are in such despair that manager John Sheridan recently decided that Swindon Town was a better place to work. Despite rumours of a takeover, first team coach Leam Richardson and academy manager Gregor Rioch will reside over their 2-0 win against us on Saturday. And if you’re thinking, this isn’t news, remember; it’s only Sunday.

Monday 16 November 2020

The Guardian have taken it upon themselves to list Britain’s 10 most unsuccessful stadium moves. Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard it all before; we’ve only got three sides and the wind blows in four different directions at the same time. Did you know you can see a cinema from inside the ground? We can take the banter, although we have to admit, it was a bit of a kick in the balls to find we’re featured alongside two stadiums that aren’t even being used as football grounds anymore and a third that doesn’t exist.

Tuesday 17 November 2020

‘We owe you Crewe, we’ll show ‘em, grrr’ KRob shook his fist theatrically to the sky. A sense of injustice really got the boys fired up on Tuesday as Crewe eventually turned up to the Kassam for their much postponed league fixture. And we really stuck it to them, really showed them who’s boss, yes, we lost 2-0, but we delayed their second goal until the final minute. Ha! Who’s laughing now? 

Wednesday 18 November 2020

Crewe’s manager Dave Artell has been reflecting on his success on Tuesday ‘We haven’t got any idiots’ said the man who drove his Covid-ridden team into the Kassam to tell KRob that he had a Covid-ridden team on the bus. We agree, none of the players are idiots. 

GLS was part of a legendary primary school team that once proudly limited their local rivals, St Hilda’s Preparatory School for Misanthropic Tories, to just fourteen goals without reply. It was on the back of this great achievement, that GLS stood at the end of the school year with the ‘Spirit and Effort Award’ – which was conceived by a kindly needlework teacher for kids who might eat dirt, but at least turn up to stuff. It’s similar to the shameful pride that Oxford felt when they found out they’re in the play-offs when it comes to fair-play league, currently sitting fifth

Thursday 19 November 2020

It was the Nine Minute Thirty-Eight Second Fans Forum on Radio Oxford with KRob on Thursday. KRob came out in defence of his beleaguered squad, and we meant that metaphorically, not that he had a pass into midfield intercepted and found himself woefully out of position. Team issues would be kept internal, he said, before resolutely not revealing to everyone that Nico Jones was ‘miles away’ from the first team, Jose’s son, John Mousinho has a potentially season ending knee issue, Cameron Brannagain has a potentially sight ending eye issue and Jedward third wheel Joel Cooper is currently dealing with a crisis in Northern Ireland, though we feel he’s woefully under-qualified to address the threats to The Good Friday Agreement resulting from Brexit.

Friday 20 November 2020

Oxford travel to Wigan tomorrow with KRob reassessing the reasons for his team’s poor start to the season. On Tuesday it was a lack of pride. Now it’s too much. One issue is a lack of sleep with Alex Gorrin ‘rewinding the game’ throughout the night to analyse what went wrong, presumably on his Betamax video player (ask your dead grandad, kids).

In other news, Oxford have been drawn against sandal wearing, Guardian reading, woke vegans Forest Green Rovers in whatever the next round of the Papa Johns Trophy is. It’ll be a good game though, but like this week’s GLS, we doubt it’ll be a meat feast.

World Cup of Central Defenders

Runners and riders

From Mark Wright to Rob Dickie, Oxford United have a rich history when it comes to central defenders. They are towering oaks, immovable, reliable bedrocks of any success. For me, your central defensive partnership speaks volumes about where you are as a club; when they are solid, so are we, when they are flakey, so are we. We’ve had some great central defenders; so many that I couldn’t narrow the field to the normal sixteen competitors so I had to go with an epic thirty-two, even though there was a bit of chaff to make up for the abundance of wheat.

The tournament wasn’t without its controversy. I’m meticulous in trying to be fair, but the first draw I did put a group together which included Gary Briggs, Malcolm Shotton, Matt Elliot and Phil Gilchrist. I decided to do the draw again.

The tournament was then thrown into crisis when it was pointed out that Canadian international Mark Watson had been omitted from the thirty-two. Watson was a steadying influence at the turn of the millennium and worthy of inclusion. My bad. Following a dead heat in a vote as to whether he should be included from the second round, one tweet in support decided it.

From there, battle commenced.

Group A

Even in the second draw it wasn’t possible to separate Gary Briggs and Phil Gilchrist who together comfortably took over 80% of the vote. In their wake was Darren Purse, a very capable back up to Elliott and Gilchrist in the 90s. Purse had all the attributes to stand alongside the greats, but largely lived in the shadows of those two before moving onto better things. Phil Whelan never stood a chance and would probably be happy with his five votes

Group B

Group B was a bloodbath, Malcolm Shotton blew everyone away with 80% of the vote. Second place, a long way back, were Elliott Moore and Luke Foster who presumably picked up their votes from people for whom Shotton is just a grainy video clip on YouTube. In the end, there was just two votes in it with Moore prevailing. Phil Bolland was left bewildered, picking up two votes.

Group C

Group C seemed more even, Steve Davis’ place in the team was a signal of the club collapsing in the late 90s, but the others were all well regarded in their time. There’s a lot of respect for John Mousinho, so he came out on top with 58.2% of the vote, followed by the most educated of all the competitors Kiwi Ceri Evans (MBChB MA MSc Dip ForMH MRCPsych PhD). Michael Raynes won a lot of friends during his time at the club but couldn’t compete.

Group D

Similarly Group D looked an even fight. Tommy Caton played in Division 1 for the club, but his time at the club is mostly forgotten. Mark Creighton’s time at Oxford was relatively short, but his impact was immense meaning he came out on top with 48.6% of the vote. He was followed by Andy Crosby, a John Mousinho-type commanding defender from the early 2000s. Michael Duberry had a lot of fans during his two years with the club, but couldn’t quite live with the big guns in the group.

Group E

Curtis Nelson laid waste to Group E picking up the same landslide victory as Malcolm Shotton in Group B with 83.4% of the vote. The rest were fighting for scraps, it was Brian Wilsterman, the hapless, accident prone, but charismatic Dutchman who picked up just 9.6% of the votes to ease into the second round.

Group F

Group F was all about the younger pretenders. Both Andy Melville and Steve Foster were club captains and internationals – Foster played in the 1982 World Cup. But, with Twitter skewed towards a slightly younger demographic and the fact that football fans tend to have short memories, Rob Dickie and Chey Dunkley took the honours.

Group G

Had only the winner gone through from Group G, then it would have been a group of death with the presence of Matt Elliott and Jake Wright together. In the end their combined forces blew away makeweights Rhys Day and Charlie Raglan. Elliott prevailed with 59.6% of the vote. Day was the only player in the competition not to pick up a single vote, which is a shame given his contribution to Alfie Potter’s goal at Wembley in 2010.

Group H

An epic group stage concluded with a fairly convincing sweep from Johnny Mullins and Mark Wright. Wright was probably the best defender in the competition he went on to play a pivotal role for England in the 1990 World Cup and captained Liverpool, but his time at the club when manager tainted his image, so he ran out second to the amiable Mullins.

Round 2

As if to illustrate that these competitions are not wholly a judgement of ability, Gary Briggs blew away Mark Wright in the first game of Round 2. Rambo took 85.8% of the vote setting his stall out for the rest of the tournament. On the pitch and in Twitter polls, he wasn’t going to take any prisoners.

A battle of the hardest of hard men. I’d have paid good money to see Mark Creighton and Malcolm Shotton go up against each other on the pitch. In the end, Malcolm Shotton made it a double for The Milk Cup duo taking over 75% of the vote. Farewell dear Beast.

John Mousinho is a mightily impressive man, a great communicator and leader and a real asset to the club, but when put up against Matt Elliott, he really didn’t stand a chance. Elliott blazed past him with nearly 80% of the vote.

Game 4 was a 2016 derby, an old partnership which saw us through the late Wilder years, right up to the point where Chey Dunkley emerged as a force to be reckoned with. Head to head, though, there was no contest, Wright took it with the highest vote percentage of the tournament so far.

Then things started to unravel, a frantic thirty minutes when I had a shopping delivery and a log delivery in quick succession coincided with the conclusion of the first round and someone pointing out that I’d forgotten Mark Watson. Watson was a Canadian international and club captain in the late 1990s. While the club collapsed around him, he remained steadfast and was worthy of a place in the tournament. An emergency poll as to his inclusion came out 50:50, so in the end, one supportive tweet decided it. It didn’t do much good, Phil Gilchrist won comfortably with 66.9% of the vote, Watson’s inclusions simply seemed to split the vote with Andy Crosby.

After that drama, we all needed a bit of knockabout fun, so watching Brian Wilsterman get schooled by Chey Dunkley was just what the doctor ordered. Dunkley broke the record with 95.6% of the vote, with people admitting that they voted for Wilsterman out of sympathy.

But if Chey Dunkley’s win was convincing, Rob Dickie’s destruction of his old defensive partner Elliott Moore was devastating. Dickie humbled the big man with 97% of the vote, the biggest win advantage in this or any other tournament.

The final game was nearly as convincing; Curtis Nelson’s more recent escapades fried 90s-guy Ceri Evans who would probably be happy with a second round place. Evans can go back to his books while Nelson booked his place in the quarter-finals.

Quater-Final

The second round shed the tournament of its makeweights, all eight quarter-finalists were veterans of epic campaigns and leaders in their own right. There were no easy ties. First up, was Rob Dickie against Phil Gilchrist. It should have been close, but Dickie’s more recent escapades made him the comfortable win with 60% of the vote.

There are moments in these things where people you think of as imperious, suddenly look meek and vulnerable. Matt Elliott ominously swept aside Curtis Nelson in game two with 83.1% of the vote. Could anyone stop him?

Game three was the tightest of them all. Jake Wright lived more recently in the memory and was arguably the more refined defender, but would that be enough? The legend of Gary Briggs lives strong, the blood streaming down his face and splattered on his shirt, these evocative images gave him just enough to sneak by with 54% of the vote.

The final quarter-final was another case of a legend coming up against a more lived experience. Once again, the legend lived on with Malcolm Shotton comfortably taking 71% of the vote.

Semi-Final

The strength of myth and legend saw Malcolm Shotton prevail in the first semi-final. Rob Dickie would have to be pretty pleased to have got this far and lay a glove on the moustachioed maestro with nearly 40% of the vote.

Semi-Final 2 looked tighter on paper; Briggs is a titan of Oxford United lore, could anyone overcome him, would anyone dare? It turns out, yes and convincingly. Matt Elliott eased through with 78.6% of the vote.

Final

And so to the final and two worthy pugilists, masters of their craft, veterans of legendary campaigns. Shotton, the captain of the glory years, Elliott, the jewel in the mid-90s promotion crown. Early voting was split with the two sharing the spoils, but slowly, Elliott began to ease ahead. Just like he was on the pitch, there was a gracefulness to how he did it, by the end he’d picked up 61.8% of the votes. Following an epic and brutal contest, the two contenders fell into each others arms; Elliott the victor.

Verdict

It took nearly 4000 votes to decide it, but Matt Elliott was a more than worthy winner. We are easily impressed by the brutality of central defenders and it the debt the club has to Malcolm Shotton will never be fully repaid, but Elliott had something extra and so it proved. In truth, the Shotton/Briggs partnership was found out in the First Division and our survival relied on the goals of John Aldridge rather than the backline. Elliott, though, never looked uncomfortable whether playing for us, in the Premier League or on the international stage. Elliott was the one that made the difference in the 1990s and we were lucky to have him.