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: Mad Dog and Englishmen

Saturday 6 March 2021

Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Charlton Athletic, and a spectacular large minute penalty save from Jack Stevens, was overshadowed by the news in the morning that Mad Dog Micky Lewis had passed away after a short illness. Now, when it rains on the Kassam, it’s just a sign that Micky’s got his cones out for some fast feet warm ups with the gods. 

Sunday 7 March 2021

Charlton manager Lee Bowyer had to phone striker Ronnie Schwarz after his penalty miss on Saturday. Schwarz is in a tricky situation with his pregnant partner stuck back home in Denmark. In that situation, we can think of nothing we’d want more than having Lee Bowyer phoning you on your day off disturbing another interview with Olly Murs on Sunday Brunch. “I would have rather he scored – but he didn’t.” said the Charlton boss, which is pretty deep for Bowyer. 

Monday 8 March 2021

It’s derby day tomorrow and sWInDon TwOn have held a press conference. At least we think so, it was conducted all in grunts and whistles. We can’t work out whether manager John Sheridan is in a hostage situation or been replaced by a smart speaker. “Once the players go over the white line, it’s about who wants it more.” he said while playing Candy Crush on his phone “There’s no point predicting who we will beat either. We just have to take it one game at a time.” Thanks Alexa, what will the weather be like tomorrow?

Tuesday 9 March 2021

Earth is healing; having saved the world with a vaccine, Oxford condemned the devil with a 2-1 win at The County Ground on Tuesday. The Super Yellows scored twice from Brandon Barker and Dan Agyei either side of another penalty save from Jack Stevens. In the last minute oNIonS dROWn got a consolation from Taylor Curran, who plays because his dad pays the wages at the County Ground. We’re pretty sure we saw this on an episode of Jim’ll Fix It in the 80s.

It’s a proper Oxford-a-thon at Wigan Athletic, as former owners Ian Lenagan and Daryl Eales have assembled to try and secure the future of the stricken club. Phil Trainer and George Waring have been alerted.

Wednesday 10 March 2021

WInDowS NoWt have now banned their local paper from asking questions at press conferences after a heated post-match interview with assistant manager Tommy Wright. They’re not allowed to ask why one of their players is playing because his dad pays the wages, why that player and another substitute were fighting at half-time in a recent game, why their manager is attacking the press for asking questions, why their assistant manager is still in a job despite being convicted of football related bribery or why the owner accidentally sold the club to Gareth Barry (or didn’t).

Elsewhere, Andy Crozzer Crosby has been added to the coaching staff at Port Vale. Dave Savage has been alerted.

Thursday 11 March 2021

Mr Big Guns might be losing his big guns. We’re not talking about MApp finally retiring his 40kgs and covering the tats with more tats. He’s got a number of players in line for international call-ups, just in time for Lincoln’s set-to with Oxford at Kassam on the 26th. Brennan Johnson, Regan Poole, Anthony Scully and Sean Rogan may all get call-ups giving Lincoln the opportunity to postpone the game.

Friday 12 March 2021

Premier League sophisticat Čhrįßtœphë Wìłdê may have smoked his last Galois cigarette, listened to his last Édith Piaf vinyl record and delivered his last umlaut. Having spent £50m, steered Sheffield United to the bottom of the table and fallen out with The Blades’ owner he looks set to call it a day at Bramall Lane. Formal announcements have been delayed to allow Wìłdê to negotiate a settlement package which will keep him in kestrals for the rest of his life.  

George Lawrence’s Shorts: Rumpy Pompey

Saturday 20 February 2021

There was a dull stalemate on Saturday when Oxford’s trip to Ipswich Town resulted in a 0-0 draw. The game was decidedly underwhelming, particularly given that both clubs had been on fire the previous week. We mean, literally on fire

Meanwhile, Luton Town boss Nathan Jones has backed former Oxford striker Danny Hylton, saying he’d have scored more that ten goals this season despite a goal drought stretching back nearly two years. He just needs games, says Jones, and to stop living in a badger hole wearing shoes made of straw.

Sunday 21 February 2021

Former Oxford striker Andy Scott has been talking to Wales Online about his role as Head of Recruitment at Swansea City. Scott felt right at home when he walked through the door at The Liberty Stadium. “I inherited a recruitment department that was non-existent” he said “We were left with no analysts, no scouts, no reporting system.” In other words, it was totally David Kemped.

Monday 22 February 2021

March 26 is a date to mark in your diary and for MApp to tattoo on his forearm in Comic Sans. The big showdown between his Lincoln City table toppers and KRob’s Oxford has been moved for TV. The change to a Friday night gives fans the opportunity to get off their laptops for once and see football as it’s really meant to be; on an overpriced disinterested subscription TV channel.  

Tuesday 23 February 2021

Tuesday saw us slide to a narrow 1-0 defeat to Portsmouth. Oxford fans are aghast at our dramatic collapse in form following our best run of wins in 128 years. Is it too much to ask that we break that record twice in the same season? 

In brighter news, The Independent have done a profile of former Oxford United director and alleged child sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell, who is currently in jail in New York. In it, they reveal that one of Ghislaine’s successes was to establish an Oxford United supporters’ club. Wait, not seen in months? Has their own supporters’ club? Good with the kids? Olly the Ox, is that you?  

Wednesday 24 February 2021

Brandon Barker’s loan is in crisis according to Rangers News. They’ve expressed their concern that Barker is not getting game time at Oxford when he could be not getting game time back up north. Barker has only featured in six of the last six games and none of them against part-timers Tunnock Teacake Academicals. How is that going to prepare him for the structural unfairness of the Scottish Premier League next season? 

Thursday 25 February 2021

It was the Eight Minute Forty-Five Second Fans’ Forum on Radio Oxford on Thursday with Josh ‘don’t call me ruffles’ Ruffels. Ruffles, er, Ruffels discussed his favourite game, not searching his name on social media – it’s Ruffels, not ruffles – and the car PClot bought the squad which looked OK until you tried to go anywhere and then it fell apart. PARP! PARP! PARP! – ANALOGY KLAXON. 

Elsewhere, MApp will be kept in dumbbells and high protein milkshakes for the next few years as he’s signed a new contract with Lincoln City until 2025

Friday 26 February 2021

It’s the KRob derby on Saturday at MK Dons. The Oxford manager is considered a god in Milton Keynes after guiding them to The Championship in 2015. Current manager, Russell Martin was asked whether the return of The Roundabout Bill Shankly added a bit of spice to the game “Not for me,” he said staring up at a bronze statue of KRob stripped to the waist astride a mighty stag outside the stadium “Coming back here probably adds a little bit for him – but it’s the same for me.” It really doesn’t bother him does it? And it’s absolutely fine that his wife calls out ‘Karl’ when they’re making love. Absolutely. Fine.

Meanwhile, junior glovesman Jack Stevens has signed a new contract keeping him at the club until 2024. Stevens has become well established in the first team since taking over the family business from, dad, Sensible Simon Eastwood. 

Midweek Fixture: Book review – Legacy, James Kerr

The lockdown offered an opportunity for the club to delve into its little black book and launch its own podcast. Prominent among the guests were the alumni of the 2015/16 season with Joe Skarz, Alex MacDonald, Chey Dunkley and Johnny Mullins all featuring. 

One of the recurring themes that came from those interviews was Michael Appleton’s obsession with the book Legacy; an analysis of The All Blacks dominance of international rugby, a book he himself referenced on the For the Love of the Game podcast. So what’s it all about?

Spend any time around executive training and you’ll eventually hear a management consultant quoting Tom Peters as though they’ve discovered the lost sea scrolls and not someone whose book sales rank alongside JK Rowling. Management advice is everywhere, and in reality, most centres on sugaring the pill of recurring lessons to make them palatable for their intended audience. Legacy is mostly a compendium of standard management tropes shone through the lens of the compelling story of the All Blacks, one of the most famous and successful teams in the world. 

The book doesn’t quite dive to the heart of the All Blacks’ success – direct quotes are limited, it’s more an observers view, which makes for a more clinical read. That said,  perhaps the heart of their success is less mystical than people would like to perceive. Sport is full of talk of ‘talent’ and ‘genius’ whereas success is often drawn from structure and process; that’s a key message here. 

The All Blacks do have a bit of a head start, they’re massively well funded and revered, finding more money and resources to do more things is, perhaps not easy, but not that hard. 

The story starts with the relative failure of the All Blacks quarter-final defeat to France in the 2007 Rugby World Cup. By this point the squad was consumed in its own self-importance; poor discipline and unprofessional behaviour could be explained away because they were the mystical and untouchable All Blacks. But it was rotten and underperforming. There was disillusionment within as well, the whole concept of being an All Black was becoming a reality TV show; even doing the iconic haka was a meaningless chore.

If there’s a parallel, and Michael Appleton has spoken about this, the Oxford team he inherited in 2014 was a ragtag of grafters. Chris Wilder’s ambition had been stymied by a lack of investment and slowly the team was decaying, what he was achieving was remarkable, but still moderate. There’s an entertaining edition of the official podcast with Michael Raynes and Tom Newey, where they discuss the life of a workaday lower league pro; the game is about looking for another contract, creating the illusion of being in demand when in reality they’ll go anywhere that pays. By 2014 any significant ambition at the club had gone.

Appleton talks about inheriting a squad full of players who had experienced relegation, and the general acceptance of that being part and parcel of being a lower league pro. As a result he set about transforming the culture with Legacy offering a template.

A lot of what you’ll have heard on the podcasts is lifted directly from the book. The most compelling was the All Blacks’ idea of ‘leaving the jersey in a better place’, which was particularly evident in the recruitment strategy employed under Appleton. The club was no longer for the Neweys and Raynes’, pragmatically picking up another contract before moving on. The players Appleton wanted saw beyond that; he wanted players who would improve themselves by investing everything in the shirt and the club. The likes of John Lundstram, Kemar Roofe and Ryan Ledson invested heavily in the club, making a personal step forward before passing their shirt onto the next recipient. Quite literally, the number 4 shirt was held by Michael Raynes in 2013/14, who passed it onto Kemar Roofe, then to John Lundstram. The shirt – the purpose of a player being at the club – being left in a better place, creating a legacy.

Lundstram passed it onto Mike Williamson.

There are other ideas – a devolved management structure where a group of leaders were created from the squad to keep the group in check and resolve its own problems. It meant that the culture wasn’t reliant on a single person and that the team owned their issues and more importantly, the solutions. Jake Wright was at the heart of it, and you’ll hear his name come up regularly as a driving force in the club. But also, there were players like Sam Long – younger and on the margin of the squad, but local and perhaps closer to the fans with a better sense of what the club was about. There is clearly a lot of support for Long at the club even now, despite injuries, the club have stuck with him, which clearly paid dividends last season. 

Another driving principle was a ‘no dickheads’ policy; a rehashing of the adage that ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’, FIFO is another articulation – ‘fit in or fuck off’. ‘No dickheads’ is simply not allowing disruptive influences to infiltrate the squad. No matter how good a player might be, if they behave at odds with the culture of the whole, they move on. Alex MacDonald let slip that ‘Armand’ (Gnanduillet, presumably) was a player who fell foul of the policy. It might be reasonable to assume Dan Crowley was also in that camp and perhaps even Liam Sercombe in 2017 when he rapidly fell out of favour after the JPT Final. Even MacDonald himself was moved on when, by his own admission, he let his standards slip. It’s not a reflection of the individual, but their compatibility with the driving culture. It’s an unforgiving environment, but you can’t deny its success.

There’s little doubt that Legacy provides an insight into the culture instilled by Appleton at Oxford. He was well supported financially, but there was a depth to his work, which is often overlooked. We’re still benefitting from it now. 

It did make me wonder whether the fans have a similar culture. The All Blacks have is an evolving rule book which every player gets, it describes what being an All Black is, and how to behave. It’s part of ‘improving the jersey’. Imagine a club where the fans are committed to improving the club for the next generation, imagine what it could achieve. There’s another concept explored early on: ‘cleaning the sheds’, never being too big to do the small things. After every game the All Blacks clean their own dressing room before leaving. It plays to the idea that your value is in what you leave behind – a tidy dressing room, as well as an outstanding performance, being the legacy of an All Blacks visit – far more impressive than a mess and a loss. Can you imagine not only walking away from the County Ground with three points, but with absolutely no reason for Swindon fans to complain about you because of how you behaved? That would drive them mad. The atmosphere created by the fans during 2015-2017 was phenomenal, as good as any in the country, particularly when you consider our size, but sadly it hasn’t been sustained which is a shame; perhaps the fans could think a bit more about their own legacy. 

George Lawrence’s Summer Shorts – The Bayo Tapestry

George Lawrence’s Shorts hasn’t wasted furlough; eschewing the opportunity to learn conversational Farsi or master jazz oboe we’ve joined Amateur Epidemiologists On Twitter. We’re a group of enthusiasts pooling years of experience fixing drains and answering customer service queries to misinterpret statistics to confirm our preconceived prejudices. We treat our virology data like our art – we don’t know much about it, but we know what we like. Stay home > Make Memes > Save the NHS. 

But that was then, this is now; GLS is pulling on its summer shorts, resting its gut over the elasticated waste and bringing you the news from the Oxford United universe.  

Monday 13 July 2020

Oxford’s mammoth season ended in ultimate disappointment as they fell to a 2-1 defeat against Wycombe Akinfenwanderers in the League 1 Play-Off Final. The chairboys felt right at home in the empty Wembley Stadium going ahead when Anthony AkinStewa(rt) headed in after eight minutes. We equalised through Jedward orphan Mark Sykes with a goal Ade Akinfenwa described as ‘Akinfenwa-like’. The winner came from a spot kick scored by Akinfenwanderers Akindefenda, Joe Jacobson.

Tuesday 14 July 2020

It was the morning after the night before and time to reflect on what might have been or might will be again. With the financial realities of the impending financial catastrophe coming into sharp focus we need our friends more than ever. Perhaps former Oxford United director Ghislaine Maxwell can help, she seems like a nice person with friends in high places. Once a yellow, always a yellow, eh Gizzy?

The oily bird catches the worm, and news is that Bristol City’s biggest and oiliest bird, Mark Ashton, could be set to roll out the big guns when he unveils his new manager. MApp has been linked with a move into the Championship

Wednesday 15 July 2020

We go again, as they say. Jedward orphan Mark Sykes may go again to Stoke to join the former Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill. Meanwhile £5m defender sulky teenager Rob Dickie could go again to Nottingham Forest who have joined Derby County and Leeds United in the race to sign him for £3m. Expect the fee to be around £750,000.  

Thursday 16 July 2020

Come on Monday, Happy Days!
Tuesday, Wednesday, Happy Days!
Thursday, Friday, Happy Days!
The weekend comes, my cycle hums,
Ready to race to yooooou.

Wait, that’s not right, what happened to Tsun Dai? Well, he’s moved to Shenzhen in China after a year at Wolves.

Friday 17 July 2020

Straight out of a two-year-old’s hide and seek playbook – if I close my eyes and can’t see them, they can’t see me – Boris Johnson is to ignore all the risks and re-open football stadiums in October. We know that when the Kassam is full it’s like a cauldron, though not often full of viral spores. Some protective measures will have to be in place to protect the most infirm; or South Stand Upper as it’s known, but what the heck, we’re going back, spread the word, let’s make this thing go viral.

Saturday 18 July 2020

Can Oxford bounce back from their play-off disappointment? KRob’s given his verdict and it’s unequivocally a yes, or no, or, and we cannot be clearer about this; maybe. You see, KRob is having one of his periodic back me or sack me (but, obviously don’t sack me, I didn’t mean it literally) moments. He’s pleading to the Oxford board to build on the successes of last season. “I owed Oxford United for two reasons” said KRob “Giving me the opportunity to come home to my family every night and for sticking with me in the bad times.” That’s us; the big selling point of Oxford United is that it’s in Oxford. 

George Lawrences Shorts: MApp reading

Saturday 21 December 2019

Divorced dad at a PTA Disco Gareth Ainsworth hasn’t been this disappointed since he failed to seduce Cabbage Karen, the school’s dinner lady, last Christmas. He brought his table topping Wycombe team to the Kassam and like that fateful night, left with his tail between his legs after a 1-0 defeat. The goal came from James Henry, but the game pivoted when The Mr T of the Chilterns, Ade Akinfenwa, was sent off for throwing John Mousinho over the North Stand.

Sunday 22 December 2019

It’s Christmas, which means family, friends and avoiding creepy Uncle Alan and his wandering hands. So if you want to pretend to be engrossed in something, The Roker Report remembers Sunderland’s 1975 win over Oxford. I mean, don’t we all?

Monday 23 December 2019

MApp has been reflecting on his time with Oxford. The three years of promotions, giant killings and derby wins has really brought a smile to his face. For MApp this requires a complex mechanical contraption attached to a winch.

Tuesday 24 December 2019

When we say MApp’s back, we mean it; it may be Christmas, but for the new Lincoln manager it’s business as usual as he prepares to face his old club on Boxing Day. Obviously it’s still a special time; following a turkey protein shake on the big day he’ll be dusting off the novelty festive dumbbells readying himself for the game. 

Wednesday 25 December 2019

Do they know it’s Christmas time at all? KRob gave the squad the day off on Christmas Day knowing that there was a box of Celebrations and a DVD of Skyfall with his name on at home. Depressed sixth former Rob Dickie got a chemistry set, but told the lads he got a Sam Fox calendar, Jose’s son John Mousinho got socks and the Top Gear Annual, Jamie Mackie broke his record for stuffing sausage meat stuffing balls up his nose. 

Thursday 26 December 2019

I don’t know if we mentioned it; Mr Big Guns was back in town on Thursday as MApp brought his Lincoln team to the Kassam. Ecclesiastical genius Shandon The Baptiste scored the only goal in a 1-0 win. KRob felt the pressure throughout the game; holding your gut in with MApp rippling three feet away really takes it out of you.

Friday 27 December 2019

No football tomorrow, but the team is preparing to meet The Crazy Gang of Wimbledon on Sunday. With the busy Christmas period, KRob is planning to rest a few players. Jamie Mackie will return to face elbowing duties up front while a number of the midfield are expected to be rested by standing in the middle of the pitch watching the ball sail over their heads for ninety minutes.