George Lawrence’s Shorts: For Leven’s sake

Saturday 16 November 2019

If you’re an Oxford fan; when the fun stops, don’t stop. There was no game on Saturday, but the draw for the MySpace.com Trophy more than made up for that. Like the FA Cup draw being on BBC prime time TV, this was given all the prestige it deserved; being made during a 2003 re-run of Top Gear on Dave. We play Exeter away.

Elsewhere chisel faced millennium guy Dean Whitehead left his role at Huddersfield to become coach at Shrewsbury, who are managed by chisel faced millennium guy Sam Ricketts.

KRob had no one to talk to, so he talked to the Blood Red Podcast. He talked about coaching Ben ‘Woody’ Woodburn, Trent ‘Trento’ Alexander-Arnold and Deli ‘Delo’ Ali. It’s so difficult to keep track of all his previous charges, if the players KRob coached were his children, he’d give Boris Johnson a run for his money.

Monday 17 November 2019

When he played for Oxford his head wrote cheques his legs couldn’t cash, but that won’t worry Armand Gnadulliet, who is being linked with Derby County and been added to a team of the season in front of a yellow wall of James Henry, Cameron Brannagan and Tariqe Fosu.

Meanwhile, he may look like he’s just been caught smoking behind the music block, but The Mirror has hailed sulky sixth former Rob Dickie as the new Harry Maguire

Tuesday 18 November 2019

He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice; KRob has asked for a GoPro and a Stretch Armstrong for Christmas, or failing that Matty Taylor. It’s one of three areas he feels need addressing in the January transfer window. 

The claim that Oxford United are by far the greatest team the world has ever seen is a bit of a stretch. But it turns out we do effectively run New Zealand. After the revelation that Ceri Evans is the secret behind the All Blacks miserable semi-final exit in the Rugby World Cup, former Oxford coach Des Buckingham has been talking about taking the footballing Kiwis he’s leading to next year’s Olympics.

Wednesday 19 November 2019

The FA Cup is full of magic, as Walsall and Darlington fought it out for the right to host the Mighty Yellows in the second round. A wave of the wand and slight of hand resulted in all skill and entertainment disappearing in a puff of smoke. In the end Walsall triumphed 1-0.

Elsewhere, a penalty shoot out between Taunton and Truro nearly toppled Oxford’s record after it took thirty-four kicks to settle Southern League Challenge Cup tie.

Thursday 20 November 2019

It was the Six Minute Forty-Six Second Fans Forum with marketing hotrod Matt ‘Kenny’ Everett on Thursday. He answered fans questions in the best possible taste. He announced the intention to have a Student Night in the New Year. The themed game will serve Snakebite for £1, have discounts for dungarees, while a Levellers tribute act will play at half-time. The concern is that with the game kicking off at 7.45pm, it may be a struggle for many of the students to get out of bed in time. 

Friday 21 November 2019

It’s Mark Rawle Day tomorrow as we’re back in action against Southend who are managed by stable genius Sol Campbell. Campbell famously said how easy it is to manage in the lower leagues. His job must be getting easier every week as the Shrimpers plummet down the table.

Meanwhile, Tap-in Tarquin, Peter Leven is on the verge of the Champions League with outsiders Dynamo Brest in Belarus where he now coaches. Leven compares the achievement to Leicester winning the Premier League. Well, we know how much Peter Leven likes a long shot.

Kassam All Star XI – Right back

Sam Ricketts started no more than 10 games at the Kassam Stadium, but his name is so significant it’s practically a noun. Ricketts was the Nicky Butt of his generation, the nearly man in comparison to contemporaries Paul Powell, Chris Hackett, Jamie Brooks, Dean Whitehead and the daddy of them all, Joey Beauchamp.

Eventually he was jettisoned to few complaints. Ian Atkins had an experienced side that Ricketts rattled around the fringes of. He found a home at the financially reckless Telford, moved to Swansea and then to Hull. He became a Welsh international (but, who hasn’t?). At Hull he was part of the squad promoted to the Premier League and despite their implosion, he found himself at Bolton, a Premier League regular.

To ‘Ricketts’ at Oxford is to leave the club an apparent failure only to succeed elsewhere. The Kassam’s history is flooded with similar stories, but Ricketts is the biggest Ricketts of the lot.

The first right-back at the Kassam Stadium was Sam Stockley, who arrived with a reputation for being the division’s best right-back. In a re-modelled back-four he stuttered along with the rest of the defence.

Ian Atkins replaced Stockley with Scott McNiven. McNiven, like all Atkins’ defensive signings was as solid as a rock. But despite being involved in the win against Swindon and the subsequent trip to Arsenal, can I remember a definitive McNiven moment? Not one. He had a big backside, but that’s all I remember.

Graham Rix replaced McNiven with Dave Mackay who occupied the right-back slot for a solid year before Lee Mansell was brought in to steer the team into the Conference. Mansell did at least look like he was trying, although it was rarely with any effect. He moved on to Torquay and conspired get relegated again.

The Conference-era opened with Eddie Anaclet being drafted into the right-back slot. Not a typical Jim Smith signing; Anaclet was young and inexperienced. He was a consistent performer in his first season, winning the Oxblogger Player of the Season. When we failed to get promoted, confidence drained form the club and Anaclet’s with it. Injury didn’t help, but he was never the same.

Darren Patterson’s paternal instincts saw James Clarke graduate from his all-conquering youth team. Despite charitable support from the fans he was limited in ability and short of temper. Chris Wilder arrived, and he too was gone.

Wilder’s man has always been Damien Batt who would have been a shoe-in for the right back slot in the All-Star XI. But, for his phoenix-like qualities, Sam Ricketts is the man who gets the nod.