George Lawrence’s Summer Shorts – EB News

Sunday 4 July 2021

After KRob picked up a briefcase of used notes from a park bench as payment for Rob Atkinson on Saturday, it looks like he might go shopping. First in his sights appears to be Cheltenham defender Will Boyle. A new signing is always exciting, but word of warning; GLS once had a willy boil, and it was quite uncomfortable.

Monday 5 July 2021

Box to boxfile player; Jose’s son, John Mousinho has signed a new two-year contract with the club. Mous, who missed most of last season with injury, has just turned 37. He’s raring to go and, despite KRob’s assurances that it won’t be necessary, is excited to use his bus pass on the team coach next season.

Tuesday 6 July 2021

Details of Rob Atkinson’s transfer to Bristol City have started to emerge; Oxford Mail report that the deal is worth upwards of £1.6m with a number of add ons including additional cash for appearances, unlimited texts and a six month subscription to Disney+.

Wednesday 7 July 2021

Chris Maguire is linking back up with MApp after signing for Lincoln City. The link up creates a deadly mutation which could wipe out everybody that stands in their way. If that’s hard to imagine, it’s like putting 60,000 people into a football stadium three times in a week when there’s a deadly virus in circulation.

Thursday 8 July 2021

You might rightly wonder what the point of GLS is; well you know what’s coming home? ‘It’s’ coming home. How does ‘It’s’ get home? By taxi. And who drives a taxi? Taxi drivers. And what website do taxi drivers read? Taxi Point, probably. They’ve just published their definitive list of footballers who became taxi drivers, a list which includes former Oxford players Trevor Aylott and Jimmy Glass. And that is why GLS exists.

Friday 9 July 2021

Sheffield Wednesday are lining up a move for QPR winger Mide Shodipo, who was on loan at Oxford last season. The Owls; named because they swallow their prey whole before regurgitating it whole in the form of a pellet, have been under a transfer embargo and are keen to get on with rebuilding after relegation. 

Saturday 10 July 2021

John Lundstram and Kemar Roofe played together for the first time since they won promotion against Wycombe in 2016, losing their pre-season friendly with Tranmere Rovers. Normally pre-season is synonymous with fresh players bronzed by three weeks in Dubai. However, due to travel restrictions, the players were looking a little more wan, Lundstram having had 2 weeks in a static caravan in Prestatyn while Roofe went to a B&B in Norfolk with intermittent wifi.

Sunday 11 July 2021

There’s nothing KRob loves more than failing to sign a Scottish Premier League full-back. This year he’s set his sights on not landing Jamie Robson from Dundee United. Robson will be replacing Josh Ruffels who joined Huddersfield Town recently. Ruffels made his debut against Harrogate Town and has stated his lofty ambitions for the season: “Trying to get in the team is the main aim for me this season.” he said.

Monday 12 July 2021

Ryan Williams has revealed one of the reasons for joining Oxford is the opportunity to travel as far away from the place as it’s possible to go. He’s keen to work his way back into the reckoning with the Australian national team.

Meanwhile, Dundee United Head Coach Tam Courts isn’t aware of any movement for Jamie Robson, but he can see why there’s interest calling Robson “easy on the eye and tenacious.” which also happens to be how GLS likes their lovers.

Tuesday 13 July 2021

Headington United’s Sam Long is excited for the new season and determined to go one step further. It’s important that he constantly looks forward and doesn’t even think about last year. “I’m aware what was last year.” he said not thinking about last year “But it’s a fresh start, we need to all forget about last year. I can’t sit back on last year’s performances. Because I played well last year, doesn’t mean I can relax this year.”

Wednesday 14 July 2021

Bristol Live have run an exhaustive profile of their new signing Rob Atkinson revealing that he is a fluent French speaker who could fully converse with Derek Osei Yaw. That is, when Osei Yaw popped into the club to check if he had any post. Apparently at Eastleigh, Atkinson was labelled the ‘Vanarama Van Dijk’, which is a bit like when we used to call Phil Trainer the ‘Conference Claudio Cannigia’, but that wasn’t a good thing.

Thursday 15 July 2021

The club announced a new shirt sponsor, EB Charging, for the upcoming season after it was announced that the Thai Tourist Authority were standing down. With covid cases souring and the government now bored of trying to control it, the former sponsors have figured out that fans are more likely to visit the Amazing NHS than Amazing Thailand this year. 

Friday 16 July 2021

Oxford United won the annual shin kicking festival against Oxford City on Friday 3-2, with a late winner from The Bookie Monster Alex Gorrin. Karl Robinson wasn’t impressed, reassuringly describing the Yellows as being ‘miles away from a good team’. The team were resplendent in their new shirts, which have received a muted response from fans who believe they’re ‘a bit plain’. Apparently fans wanted to see a Da Vinci fresco of The Battle of Anghiari on the back or something.

Oh, and in ‘you are joking me’ news; after John Lundstram and Kemar Roofe, there are strong rumours the left back with the come to bed eyebrows George Baldock is heading for the Auld Firm as well. This time Celtic are after his services.

Saturday 17 July 2021

Oxford played their second friendly in two days with a behind-closed-doors game against plucky billionaires Salford City. The game was split into three sections lasting 60, 30 and 45 minutes, playing three different teams in the process. To add to the confusion, the teams operated an innovative scoring system with Oxford winning by a four golden goats, to Salford’s half a kumquat.

George Lawrence’s Shorts – Never Mind the Ballots

Saturday 8 May 2021

On the eve of the last game of the season, Headington United’s Sam Long and Big Friendly Giant Elliott Moore have been reflecting on the last two years. Moore’s had a breakthrough season, skippering the side and playing every game. Long hasn’t seen a season this disrupted since the 1846 cholera pandemic preventing Headington United from playing their Oxfordshire Senior Cup Quarter Final against the Oxford University Department for Advanced Wheelwrighting Second XI. 

Sunday 9 May 2021

A blistering 4-0 win over Flimsy Boyd Jasselblank’s Burton Albion set up an unlikely opportunity for Oxford to make the play-offs on Sunday. Everything depended on Portsmouth’s game against Accrington. Over at Fratton Park, there was a proper bumpy Pompey pumping as Stanley won 1-0. The result meant Oxford snatched the last play-offs place and will play Blackpool next week.

Monday 10 May 2021

Blackpool fans are excited by the prospect of allowing up to 4,000 fans to Bloomfield Road for the play-off second leg against Oxford a week on Friday. The town hasn’t been this excited since Blackpool’s Woke-end Weekend a couple of years ago, which involved vegan ice-creams, a Black(pool) Lives Matter demonstration and the polyamarous puppet show; Punch and Judy and Another Judy.

Tuesday 11 May 2021

KRob’s still recovering from the excitement of making the play-offs, but feels his team are the underdogs as they go into the post-season. “…for some unknown reason we are in with a shout of going to the second tier of English football.” he said reassuringly.

Wednesday 12 May 2021

Oxford have confirmed that fans will be allowed to attend the first leg play-off game against Blackpoo next Tuesday. All season ticket holders will be invited to enter a ballot for the tickets available. Some fans have complained they’ve been unfairly left out, feeling they deserve to be rewarded for their dedication to posting flame emojis on the club’s instagram posts nearly every day.

Thursday 13 May 2021

Oxford players have been seen celebrating goals by pretending to play a saxophone and Elliot Lee has explained the reason why. “I put my music on and it was a saxophone playlist. A few of the lads asked whose music it was.” he said. Expect a few of the other lads to do a ‘sandpapering my eyeballs’ celebration when they score against Blackpool to show what it feels like to listen to a saxophone playlist.

Friday 14 May 2021

There are rumours that KRob is lining up a bid for Hibs right-back Tom James. James is said to be excited at the prospect of starting a few games in August before getting ousted by Sam Long and being shipped out on loan by Christmas.

With the play-offs next week, there’s a blank weekend for Oxford fans who don’t know what to do with themselves on Saturday. What about Tsun Dai? Well, the former Oxford player has scored his first professional goals with a brace for Shenzen in the Chinese Super League against Shandong Taishan.

Midweek fixture: Sam Long – local hero

The first time I remember seeing Sam Long he was 18-years-old and stood in a school assembly hall handing out end of season awards to a local junior football club having signed his first professional contract a few days earlier. 

Long was unremarkable; his hair was short and he was wearing jeans, trainers and a hoodie, looking indistinguishable from the teenagers he was rewarding. The year before, the club had attracted England international Eniola Aluko. By contrast, dressed in her England tracksuit, she looked comfortable in her ambassadorial role. 

One of the coaches congratulated Long on his new contract; though most didn’t know who he was. My thoughts were less magnanimous, it had been nearly a decade since Dean Whitehead and Sam Ricketts had cultivated successful careers in the game and two decades since Joey Beauchamp and Chris Allen had done the same. Long didn’t seem the type that was likely to follow in their footsteps.

There are always players that fans see as being the great new hope for the club; there were frenzied calls for James Roberts and Tyrone Marsh to solve our goalscoring problems despite being inexperienced teenagers, like many others, they quickly faded from the scene.

Long’s debut was as a substitute for James Constable in 2013 away to Accrington Stanley. The team, managed by Chris Wilder, mixed veterans from our Conference promotion season – Constable, Damian Batt and Alfie Potter – with experienced pros like Michael Duberry who had been brought in to fire us towards promotion. Duberry had already picked Long out for his work ethic and lack of ego, praising the influence of Chris Allen, his youth team coach, for instilling a culture of listening and learning which, he said, would serve him well.

It would be another year before Long would make his first start. With Wilder moving on to Northampton, caretaker manager Mickey Lewis gave him his debut in a draw at Morecambe. It was an illustration of Lewis’ generous character to give young players a chance, even if it was sometimes at the expense of results. Lewis was quick to praise Long’s performance, in what was otherwise a disappointing display.

The arrival of Michael Appleton and new ownership in 2014 saw a revolution at the club. Long wasn’t an established player and with Appleton impatient to find a winning formula, his chances were limited to eight games, although he did score his first goal against Southend. 

Appleton churned through over 40 players in his first season, weeding out many of Chris Wilder’s signings who he saw as having a loser’s mentality. Long could easily have been swept away in the tidal wave, but he survived the cull, going on a six-week loan to Kidderminster in November 2014 as part of a deal that brought Chey Dunkley to the club.

With the painful screwdriver work complete; everything seemed to be falling into place for Long as the 2015/16 season approached. Jake Wright called him the best player in pre-season; in a crowded field, it was quite an accolade. 

It went further; Michael Appleton started implementing a philosophy inspired by the book Legacy – which details the winning formula of the All-Blacks. He established a leadership group to build cohesiveness and deal with squad issues; Long was made part of it to stand alongside more experienced first team regulars.

Then, just as things started to click, Long was stretchered off in a League Cup tie at Hillsborough with an ankle ligament injury that plagued him all season. He returned to the bench for the 2016 EFL Trophy defeat to Barnsley, but while the club were advancing, Long was stuck in the physio’s room.

Long would make the bench a year later for another EFL Trophy final against Coventry, but injuries slowed his progress. When Pep Clotet replaced Appleton in 2017, the new manager turned to experienced players, a rainbow alliance of old mates. When he was fit, Long was loaned out to Hampton and Richmond Borough.

To outsiders, it seemed that the club were running Long’s contract down; he’d started four league games in three years and faced the prospect of getting to the end of his deal with little or no experience and no reputation to take him elsewhere. 

It would be romantic to suggest that Karl Robinson spotted Long’s potential and nurtured him into the player he is today, but that wouldn’t be wholly true. Robinson wanted a modern full-back, an auxiliary midfielder expected to defend and attack for 90 minutes. He strained his resources to land someone with the modern characteristics of pace, energy, resilience and those crucial defensive and attacking qualities. Chris Cadden arrived from Motherwell, but the budget couldn’t stretch to a permanent deal so the club signed up to a curious arrangement where he moved to Columbus Crew before being immediately loaned bak to the Oxford for half a season while the MLS season was in recess. When Cadden’s deal ran out, Robinson turned to Long to fill the vacant slot. 

Finally getting regular starts, the season was curtailed as the coronavirus pandemic hit, a late run of form saw Oxford qualify for the play-off final against Wycombe. It was Long’s third trip to Wembley, his first time on the pitch and his third disappointment. 

Although Long signed a new two-year deal just before the play-offs, 2020/21 felt like déjà vu; Sean Clare was signed from Hearts and given the right-back’s number two shirt, implying that he was the preferred starting option. The season started underwhelmingly and Clare’s performances we’re fitful. Long clawed his way back into the starting line-up once again.

His return coincided with a return to form and a scintillating winning streak. He was also picking up assists and goals that had been absent from his CV. Against Plymouth, he sprinted half the length of the pitch, exchanging passes with Clare along the way, to score the winner in a crucial 3-2 win. With the play-off race tightening, he popped up to score a memorable last-minute brace to put Gillingham to the sword. Long edged past the milestone of 100 starts and was leading from the front. 

Perhaps it was that time spent with the leaders of the club under Michael Appleton, or the guidance as a youth team player under Chris Allen that encouraged Long to take a greater responsibility in terms of being a leader in the team. His willingness to take responsibility grew as the season progressed. The regular season closed with a play-off spot, and two player of the season awards. Next season, he’ll wear the number 2 shirt.

What is a full back? They don’t score the goals like a striker; they don’t show the great artistic impudence like a midfielder nor the alpha-brutish strength of central defender. When you get a good one they dictate mood and tone. Long has emerged as an attacking threat and an active contributor to our success as a club, he represents his community and embodies the philosophy that Karl Robinson has tried to instil into the club. Perhaps he needed that journey to establish himself in that role and build the mental fortitude to fulfil it; now he’s here, long may he reign.

George Lawrence’s Shorts: Crewe, Shrews, here is the news, Brandon, dribble, shot

Saturday 10 April 2021

OOOOOOHHHHHHH, OUR SIX WERE ON FIRE! Six different players scored as Oxford steamed through Crewe like a freight train on Saturday. The shock and awe included five goals in 13 minutes on their way to a record-equalling 6-0 win.

Sunday 11 April 2021

Former Oxford United CEO oil-slick Mark Ashton is set to take over the swirly leather big-boy’s chair at Ipswich Town. Ashton has spent the last four years at Bristol City, where his natural charm has seen fans really take him to their hearts. Tearful City fans have responded with comments like ‘Does he need a lift there?’ and ‘The best thing to happen this season’. 

Monday 12 April 2021

Arlesey Town have appointed Dave Kitson as their chairman. A surprising move that resulted from a recruitment company executive misreading the brief and finding someone who was ‘proper arsey’.

Meanwhile, Headington United’s Sam Long has signed a three-year contract extension. Long is having his best season at Oxford with fans Brazilifying his name to Longildinho. This is due to his widespread support of deforestation, the thong bikini he wears on the beach and the close shave he has in the pubic region.

Tuesday 13 April 2021

GLS is pretty big news in the bedroom department, but even he knows that hot rampant six should come after some sensual four-play. But it was the other way around on Tuesday as Oxford edged closer to the play-offs with a 4-1 win over Shrewsbury Town. Four different players scored meaning that Jedward orphan Mark Sykes is the only outfield player not to score in the last two games. He’s been asking himself what he’s got to do to get on the scoresheet; the answer being SHOOT GODAMMIT.

Wednesday 14 April 2021

Shrewsbury Town midfielder David Davis, so good, they nearly named him twice, has been reflecting on last night’s game. “Personally I don’t think it was a four-one scoreline’ he said of the four-one scoreline. The key, he said, was the advantage we gained by, checks notes, losing Brandon Barker to injury in the first half; “Their injury took the sting out of the game then we conceded two and made it hard for ourselves.” He’s smart that KRob, getting the upper hand by injuring one of his best players. 

Thursday 15 April 2021

It’ll be a family affair on Saturday when Oxford face fatberg Steve Evans’ Gillingham on Saturday. Ellie and Olly will pack their trunks and say goodbye to the circus as the brothers will each take a side in the big play-off shoot-out. Olly is quite the tactical whizz, knowing that Gills attending the game will give them a better chance of winning; “When we turn up, that is when we are at our best.” he said.

Friday 16 April 2021

It’s crunch time with everyone vying to promotion and play-off spots. Bettingexpert.com have taking a break from drawing young people into a life of misery and crippling debt by running their ‘super computer’, which has just been upgraded to Windows Vista, to predict how League 1 will turn out. According to their sophisticated algorithm, an Excel spreadsheet with specially coloured cells in team colours, we’re set to miss out of the play-offs and finish eighth.  

Match wrap: Plymouth Argyle 2 Oxford United 3

The Christmas holiday offers a rare opportunity to catch the odd film or two. I’m not a great cinema goer, so I’m often behind the curve with the latest releases. This is a bit of an understatement, the other day I found myself watching the 22-year-old Deep Impact, one of those generic turn-of-the-millenium disaster flicks built entirely around its special effects budget.

Between the end of the Cold War and 9/11, Hollywood struggled to find a palatable enemy to fight. Where it was once the Russians, and before that The Nazis, there was nobody. At least after 9/11 they could turn their institutionally racist attentions to anyone of generically Middle Eastern extraction. 

With no real enemy to fight, their was on meteorites, tornadoes and non-specific alien life-forms. Things that would bring about the end to humanity, but wouldn’t offend or exploit anyone. Apart from women, of course, they didn’t really count back then.

These films open innocently; a dorky, but undeniably handsome young male star – let’s call him Sam – has an unhealthy interest in a subject relevant to the plot – meteorology, astronomy, geology, that kind of thing. They find something that the entire established scientific community have failed to spot; a dot on the moon is an invading alien army, a shrub falling over in the garden is a sure-fire sign there’s a fault in the earth’s crust which is about to split it in two.

The opening scenes establish Sam’s position in the social strata of his local High School. While putting his books away in his locker, he’s bullied by a couple of ‘jocks’ one of whom is probably called Brad. Brad’s girlfriend is with them, she’s kind and homely and probably called Jess. Jess seems desperately uncomfortable with the bullying; the confrontation over, she’s apologetic and smiles with weak reassurance.

If the shitshow that is 2020 was a disaster flick, then Sam Long is its unassuming breakout star. Long is the high school Regular Joe (or Sam) who seems to take great joy in simply being who he is. His unhealthy interest is in the subject of Oxford United. He’s been surrounded by jocks throughout his career; a series of players brought in from the outside to bully him out of the first team. Though there have been countless attempts to replace him, he’s seen them all off with his quiet resilience.

The arc of the film involves Sam trying to convince those in positions of influence that he’s discovered evidence of an imminent extinction level event. The priority, though, is first to convince Jess. Consuming his convolutedly argument with a PhD level comprehension, her heart melts and they fall instantly in love. With the stirring in their loins now satisfied, the newly consummated couple must focus on getting to the top of the institutional forces of government to avert disaster.

Long’s career has spanned seven years, fighting the club’s own institutional forces; five managers and three owners have had his destiny in their hands. All have been impatient for success and set about revolutionising their playing staff. Long has survived every turn; every attempt to replace him or send him out on loan, he’s battled the seas of change, and countless injuries, which could have drowned him. Battered and bruised, his spirit and steely resolve shines through.  

The end of the film sees Sam and Jess scrambling to save the earth. Society, faced by its seemingly inevitable end, is descending into chaos and anarchy. The grotesque failures of the establishment has left just one person capable of averting disaster – an unassuming teenager from a small town High School, obviously. The solution inevitably involves sparking a chain of events which are so linear, you might argue that they’ve been oversimplified for a mass-audience. It’s a long shot, but it might just work.

The final act of 2020 was against Plymouth on Tuesday, Long picked up the ball deep inside his own half, abandoning his admirable conservatism, he set off his own improbable chain of events. Lurching forward, thrusting deep into the mouth of his faceless enemy, he exchanged a pass with Sean Clare – one of the jocks brought in to bully him out of the team – now an admiring comrade. Beyond the point of no return, Long has no choice but to continue his journey into the beast; it’s now death or glory. No longer is he the dependable high school nerd, he’s the action hero saving humanity. Everyone looks on aghast as he picks up Clare’s pass inside the box to slide the ball past the Plymouth keeper into the net. It was a Long shot, and it just worked.

Has 2020, with all its thrills and spills, been a fable of our times? Meaningless escapism? Calculated genius? When Disney released The Force Awakens, George Lucas, who conceived the franchise, was dismissive of its reductive, crowd-pleasing plot, saying that his own Phantom Menace – a critical catastrophe – was a triumph in the Star Wars canon because of its state of the art CGI. 

Lucas’ genius was his innovation, not his storytelling. He was an experimental filmmaker, the original Star Wars trilogy broke new ground in terms of technique and special effects, it was almost fortuitous it also had a coherent story. If it hadn’t, it would have been written off as an indulgent folly.

If Long has been the on-screen star of the show, Karl Robinson seems to be the George Lucas football management. Set aside the fact we had two right-backs combining for the second goal, or that it followed a goal from our left-back, at one point in the first half our attack seemed to be made up entirely of defenders. There was a passage of play where Elliott Moore, was lolloping around in the Plymouth box waiting for a ball to be delivered into him. Even when the initial attack broke down, rather than racing back to resume his defensive duties, he simply waited while another attack developed down the left hand side. Whether it was madness or genius is anyone’s guess.

It’s all very exciting and when it works it can be magical, but this season seems to constantly teeter on the absurd. Long getting two yellow cards but no red just seemed to be accepted as a fitting plot hole in the story. We’re still prone to the defensive muddles – both goals were avoidable – but hopefully there’s a story in there somewhere; one that is a bit more Han Solo and a little less Jah Jah Binks.

George Lawrence’s Shorts: Hally’s Crawley bally

Sunday 10 November 2019

The bragging rights were all ours on Sunday, as well as breezing to a comfortable 2-0 win over Hayes and Yeading in the FA Cup, it was the first time in nearly 20 years that Oxford United have played a first class game against a team with less stands in their stadium. Many Oxford fans sang ‘You’ve only got one side’ while secretly admiring the stadium’s fencework.

Goals came from Headington United’s Sam Long and the Aylesbury Ashley Young; Rob Hall.

Monday 11 November 2019

GLS was a student last time he spent a Monday night watching a part-time landlord caressing his velvet ball-bag expectantly. A quick dash to the cash machine to pay three months of rent arrears and the problem was solved. This time it was Dion Dublin who drew our name out of the bag for the FA Cup 2nd Round away to Walsall or Darlington

Tuesday 12 November 2019

Like wondering what it will take for people to realise that Nigel Farage is a self-serving narcissist, it is difficult to know what would dissuade some people from attending a dead rubber MySpace.com Trophy game against Crawley Town on a freezing Tuesday night.

But attend they did, 412 (FOUR HUNDRED AND LITERALLY TWELVE) of them, KRob fielded a team of such marginal players, Ross Weatherstone and Rob Folland were hoping for a game. The Aylesbury Ashley Young Rob Hall bagged a hat-trick in a 4-1 win.

Wednesday 11 November 2019

The press continue to look at hipster’s favourites John Lundstram and George Baldock with all the puzzled curiosity of a Massai tribesman returning a burgundy corduroy skirt at a moderately sized branch of FatFace. The Yorkshire Post can’t quite figure out how players who have played at lower levels are able to cut it in the Premier League – hard work and talent, perhaps?

Thursday 12 November 2019

Confidence is the habitual voyeur of what is known as Sports Park Life! The club have announced that they will be ensuring there’s no heavy petting or bombing, after they took over the lease of the Oxford Sports Park. As well as being the permanent training ground for the club, it’ll also host community activities. Grandma GLS has already signed up to Jamie Mackie’s over-60s badminton league.

There was a grrreat the Six Minute Thirty Seven Second Fans Forum with Tiger on Thursday. Brenda from Eynsham phoned up to ask whether pilates was on tonight before asking about the stadiumsituation (has never been asked about it before? We can’t remember).

Friday 13 November 2019

No game for Oxford this weekend, but that doesn’t mean the Oxford’s alumni have got a rest. Pocket racist Sam Deering is on the comeback trail, having signed for Dagenham & Redbridge following a period navigating the wastelands of the lower-leagues. Elsewhere, goal machine Sam Smith is enjoying his time at Oxford’s local rivals Cambridge having scored seven goals this season.