Oxford ’til I die?

From the Rage Online newsdesk Sunday, November 17th, 2002  

I am writing this following my first Oxford United live game in circa 6 years (the recent win over Rochdale). I have lived in Salford, Manchester for the last seven years; becoming embroiled in northern life and northern ways. This includes the weekly drag of playing in a local league where young gangsters are looking to make their mark on a boy ‘from the south’ (I think it is my accent that gives me away). The highlight of these playing years was being told to “f**k of back to my cottage or I would be rinsed” (another word for shot to you non-northerners). I did not want to tell this particular gangster that I did in fact live in a Farm House in Brackley, Northants, not a cottage.

Where am I going with this ? In my formative years as a teen I played for OUFC Juniors and watched the majority of Oxford games home and away. I felt the pain in the years of slipping from the glories of ’86 to the more recent times of the Kemp era (although luckily detached 150+ miles away). I still remember my fist game in ’87 where a Briggs diving header defeated Man Utd. I decided enough was enough the day when I could not name more than three members of the current squad – I was ashamed to call myself a fan; I did something about this.

I turned up to the Rochdale game – my first venture to the glittering Kassam Stadium. I am impressed with the way we have approached the new stadium, with an accessible bar and a realistic idea of gate numbers – hence the lack of one stand and money not thrown down the drain. First impressions were good – until I reached the bar and got a fizzy, yellow-coloured pint of Guinness. I did, however find out I was not the only one and proceeded to piss myself at the article in Rage On.

Following what I felt was a performance worthy of those heady days back when (I cannot remember a time when we at least tried to pass the ball as much), I came away from the Rochdale game adamant I would make the 350 mile round trip at least eight times a year. The football (I know it’s not always going to be that good), the stadium and the atmosphere made me realise what I had missed all these years – I had been to Old Trafford the Tuesday before and witnessed a pathetic atmosphere and so-called fans leaving 15 minutes before time to get back down the M1/M6.

What I’m trying to say is that I have some way to go to call myself a fan again but certainly want to be able to put something back into this club again. Let’s hope it’s always like Rochdale (somehow I’m not sure it will be!!!)

(still living in Manchester)

P.S. If you see me sneaking out five mins early – remember I have to get back up north !!

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