Rage Online Chronicles 1998 – 1999

From the Rage Online newsdesk

Match by match views of United’s exceedingly crap 1998/99 season by your cynical (and equally crap) reviewers.

Matches reviewed: Bristol City (a); Luton Town (a); Wolves (h); Luton Town (h); Palace (a); Grimsby (h); Barnsley (a); Pompey (h); Sw****n (a); Ipswich (h); Sunderland (a); QPR (h); WBA (h); Huddersfield (a); Tranmere (h); Bolton (a); Bury (a); Sheffield Utd (h); Crewe (h); Watford (a); Brum (a); Port Vale (h); Naaaarch (a); Bradford (h); Birmingham (h); Stockport (a); Palace (h); Pompey (a); Crewe (a) FAC; Bristol City (h); Grimsby (a); Chelsea (h); Barnsley (h); Chelsea (a); Wolves (a); Swindon (h); Ipswich (a); Sunderland (h); QPR (a); WBA (a); Huddersfield (h); Watford (h); Crewe (a); Sheffield United (a); Bolton (h); Tranmere (a); Bury (h); Port Vale (a); Norwich (h); Bradford City (a); Stockers (h);
Or to the 1999/2000 season match reports.

Score with an eighth

(Bristol City 2 Mighty Yellows 2)

Oxford United’s first League game of the season took loyal fans down to the head of the Avon Gorge to fight the might of the big spending newcomers into the First Division, Bristol City, on Saturday 8thAugust. Yes, people the season does start on the eighth of August despite what the media hype might be trying to force down your throats, there is more to football than the Premiership and friendlies against teams who the potential ‘Super Leaguers’ will hope to meet in the Champions Farce. Anyway, after signing their record signing ‘Dino Windy’ Windass the Mighty Yellows surprised their hosts, who spent five times the amount OUFC did during the closed season, and me by opening the scoring. A cross from Banger and slotted in by Murphy! Big Kevin Francis was out injured and I thought we would have to look for goals from our midfield as Matt ‘Scunthorpe reject’ Smurphy was hardly a poacher. More scrambled and addled. The Robins (why do they antagonise us by playing in red and sporting the same nickname as our moonraking friends from down The Road to Hell?) fought back in robust fashion to go 2:1 up at the break. The second half saw Phil ‘God’ Whitehead back on form. Dithering around his area and fumbling shots (luckily going wide or hitting the post) in the first was replaced by the confidence and superb stopping ability of our deity between the posts. Which greatly aided the winning of a point after an intricate move involving Beauchamp, Windass and Gray (!?) had brought a Us equaliser 3 minutes after halftime, finished by Windass with a hard, low shot into the bottom left hand corner. This sparked off a celebration to prove that Windy has an ego as huuuge as his ears. A good away point to start the road to the play-offs? The new signings Windass and Thomson looked good and Murphy’s transformation is nothing but miraculous. A lovely day out, shame about the traffic.

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(Luton Town 2 MY 3)

The first leg of the Worthington’s (it’s a crap, sexist ad thing) Cup took OUFC to the surreal world of Luton Town. A strange non-League looking all-seater ground. The away end is entered over terraced housing back gardens and the corporate boxes, which are literally boxes, are festooned with netting to keep the ball within the perimeters of the stadium (!?). Town really aren’t very good (watch them turn us over in 2nd leg), wasting endless chances in the first half leaving that man Murphy to bag a brace (I don’t believe I said that) just before half time. A header from a Windy free kick and then a sweet volley on the outside of his foot (again assisted by Windy) into the top right hand corner. The 2nd half saw Town make their claim to a cathedral as they stormed the City goal. The announcer insisted on calling United ‘City’. An allusion to the non-Leagueness of the ground, perhaps. Still they were unable to claim a goal through open play. Luckily the referee thought it wise to award them a couple of penalties which were both dispatched successfully to level the scores. The first spot kick seemed to be for that new UEFA World Cup infringement of ‘swinging leg, missing ball’. As all refs know top-class strikers just don’t do that and so must have been impeded in some way or other. The second for Brian Willlllllsterman’s hauling down of an opponent. The fact that they were nowhere near the ball is irrelevant. Anyway, another well worked set-piece brought Oxford the victory. A corner from Beauchamp on to substitute Weatherstone’s head. 3:2. Still unbeaten since the end of last season. Watch this space.

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Duncing with Wolves

(MY 0 Wolves 2)

Well, as Brodders put it “the honeymoon is over”, unbeaten in all our pre-season games and the first League and League Cup game of the season Oxford United fall foul to the footballing syndrome of not being up for it and are deservedly beaten 0:2 at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers. A Wolves fan admitted after the game that he thought their first should have deffo been disallowed for a foul on Whitehead by the old war horse Bull who scored despite God’s double attempt of clearing, a decision that frustrated the Us fans when a similar incident was penalised against their team’s favour. I thought the ref was only consistent in his uselessness, which was echoed by the away support. The second was a trickle through a crowded box after a penalty save from Phil Whitehead. The unlucky keeper had earlier produced the save of the day from a point-blank header from the impressive Keane, which was applauded sportingly by the young striker. Errrm? I hate to say this but the only decent attempt we had was along range effort from our side-walking pal Martin Gray. If we play like that on Tuesday night we’ll be out of the League Cup. Still 3 penalties conceded in 3 games is a statistic to marvel at, right? Being superstitious about tings like this, I will not be wearing my white away shirt to home games any longer and hope to find the right combination of attire with Mand that will produce a home victory!

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Not Worthitington Cup?

(MY 1 Luton 3)

I mentioned to a friend last night that you could tell the Oxford fans who hadn’t been to the away leg as they seemed to actually getting passionate about the game. This seemed to be true about the Luton players but not, for the first hour, the Oxford team. After looking to seem as though they could cruise it after going 1:0 up with a Phil Whelan header they collapsed to a 3:1 defeat and exited the cup. Apart from a Joey Beauchamp free-kick rattling the bar and a golden opportunity wasted by Thomson, I have nothing more to say on the game. It was Shotton’s attitude that has baffled me. After spending the whole of last season being the type of manager you’d hate if he was employed by the opposition. Standing on the touchline, shouting, wearing OUFC kit, claiming every throw-in, foul, free-kick, corner as if he was actually playing in the match. This is no more. He just stood there arms folded for most of the game, a brief flurry of limbs in some sort of semaphorical sign language was all he could muster. It’s early enough in the season for me to find the last 2 dismal performances funny, especially if Shotts comes out with the classic ‘we can concentrate on the League, now’ quote. Keith Cox, managing director, had stated the Us needed a good cup run to bring in some revenue! But it’s ok; Cox is on holiday, in the Bahamas, probably!

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Three Minute Hero (oops, wrong song)

(Crystal Palace 2 MY 0)

Didn’t actually go to this one, seeing as Palace haven’t lowered their prices since relegation so a family outing would have cost us fifty quid before we even drank anything, so I stayed in and listened to it on my radio, Selector styleee. And a very Pauline Black day it was too, as United mustered about one and a half shots on the Palace goal, and we lost the game in the first quarter hour. The thing that really pissed me off wasn’t Rosie’s attempts at humour (which were pretty feeble, but lightened up the afternoon anyway), but the way they were so full of praise for the lads’ second half efforts which saw United dominate the second period. BUT WE DIDN’T BLEEDING SCORE…… It may be heartening to see that we’re not a one-man team (we can lose just as convincingly without Joey as with him), but we wouldn’t score in this game even if it was still going on now. To say we lack bite up front is like saying the pope has religious leanings or bears occasionally go to the toilet. And I don’t reckon the return of Superkev is going to make that much difference if all he has to play with is the likes of Murphy or Banger, gordelpus. Oh well, at least we should beat Grimsby at home….

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Oh! Pun day at the Manor

(MY 0 Grimsby 0)

This game was screaming out for a headline along the lines of “Grim day at the Manor” or “United trawl in vain, Cod help us!” but it should really say something like “Another bollox performance from an Oxford side that could play until the end of the season without scoring” to be more accurate. I’m starting to think that mebbe Superkev will be the difference to the team, especially after the old Banger missed an open goal from about a yard out with a first minute header, which was about the only real chance we had all game. And what were Windass and Joey doing with their free kick routines? Appalling. The worst thing about this game though was the London Road – about as much atmosphere as a golf match and some of the crappest “humour” you could ever wish not to hear. Should I say something about the standard of refereeing? Nah, it’s all been said already. Going to Barnsley? Am I f??

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Score in a brothel

(Barnsley 1 Mighty Yellows 0)

Four games on the trot without a goal, and no real prospects of one, either. To say we’re looking a tad blunt up front is possibly the truism of the season. To say we need a striker who can actually score goals is so obvious that it doesn’t really need saying at all. In fact this whole match report is fairly irrelevant as you all know what happened and if you don’t it’s probably because you don’t care. A defensive mix-up between God and Wheeeelan led to the game’s only goal. Powelly had the U’s best chance which was not much of a chance, and that was that. Still looking for our first league win of the season.

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Eh oop, Pompey?

(U’s 3 Portsmouth nowt)

Ever felt hard done by? Ever felt that your team was by far the superior and you got robbed by a couple of dodgy refereeing decisions and some crap luck? Ever felt like your opponents had no strike-force to speak of, a midfield that couldn’t pass and a defence that couldn’t defend, that you were all over them but still couldn’t score? Ever felt that the bastard in the opposition goal was the only thing between you and a landslide victory? If the answer to these questions is “yes” then you were probably a Portsmouth supporter at the Manor on Sunday. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

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(you know the score to this one, buggrit)

Last night’s result, if not the scoreline, was inevitable; we’ve a strike force that can’t score (and in Murphy’s case can’t even run), a defence which, without Gilly, can’t defend and, even with Powell, was beaten for pace every time, and a midfield which, when it wasn’t being bypassed by aimless hoofs upfield, was totally ineffective, and the whole team (honourable exception: Whitehead) who surrendered possession too cheaply continuously. The signs were there at the Pompey game, which we were desperately lucky to win, and at every other game this season. Without a decent goalscorer, supported by players with pace (and skill too, Banger) and more strength at the back (why wasn’t Wiiiil even on the bench?) we are going down without a doubt. However, to say that this is the game that really counts is, to me, a bit crap. Every game counts – I want United to win them all. Unfortunately I have difficulty believing that’s ever going to happen without a drastic shake-up of the playing staff. Sort it out Malcolm, we’re beginning to lose faith….

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(Yellows 3 Ipswich 3)

What has two wheels? Oxford’s defence – Whelan and Wiiiiilll. The first of these had (yet again) a stinker whilst the second had his best game yet for United. As did Banger. And Thomson. And Hill. Putting Windass up front to replace Murphy was just the tonic as for the first time United looked threatening when they were attacking. Whelan excepted we looked pretty good at the back too, although Marshy must learn how to pass the ball. In midfield Joey is getting his confidence back although it was a bit depressing to see the old-style Smudger/Gray combo back in fashion. Hill looked excellent when he came on and it can only be a matter of time before he gets a starting place. Shame about Banger cocking up his shoulder though – who’d have thought we’d ever miss him?

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(Sunderland lots Oxford less)

Don’t wanna talk about it.

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(The Yellows 4 QPR 1) (U’s 3 Baggies 0)

I went on the wagon the Wednesday after Ipswich at home. So QPR at the Manor is crystal clear in my mind. 4-1. I think this is the game where Windy got another one and celebrated by showing his six-pack and tatts. Nice. And didn’t Thommo get an excellent touch for a finely worked goal which started somewhere up near the Cuckoo Lane with a smarrrt pass from Smarshy? Unfortunately me crystals aren’t cut-glass and so I could well be merging the beating of the Baggies into this match. So 4 halves. When 2 become 1! This makes it a lot easier, and Spicier. Smurphy knocked one in against a dodgy keeper. Someone else got the other one. And Rangers knocked in a consolation. They really were shite though. Which made the West Brom game all the better. But how on earth did Whelan get involved in all 3 goals? A screamer from Joey. Brave diving header from little Pauly Powelly and someone else netted their second in consecutive home games. I’d hazard a Howland that this is the best I’ve seen us U’s play for at least a game or two. We could have had double figures if it hadn’t been for some superb work between the matchsticks, the phosphorusless woodwork itself and Smudger’s finishing. I was all for staying sober for the rest of me life if it was the rabbit’s foot required for home victory.

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Normal service is resumed

(Huddersfield 2 United 0)

This was another radio job because, well, there was a choice and Donnington Under-9s won the toss. Well, you’ve gotta support the youngsters, haven’t you? In the end the inevitable happened and United’s away form got in the way of a third successive win. If the U’s were unbeatable at home then the away record might not matter so much, but unfortunately the reality is that the last two home games were the exception rather than the rule. It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s Horton, Smith or Shotton who wears the trousers, United are pants away from home.

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Trannies in wedding dresses

(Oxford 1 Tranmere 2)

A game to forget. Myself and Neil Wakefield (there’s ya mention) took a while afterwards to counsel new kids on the terraces, Yellow Fever sort, Dan, he was so down he wouldn’t even have a lager. “After the amount of shite we’ve seen United produce over the past 30-odd years (collectively), you just have to block it from your memory and get on with your life” was the psychological reasoning we used on him. He then drank a pint and got a lift back to The Smoke with some Trannies. Last time I spoke to him he sounded ok. Why am I rambling on about a rival fanzine editor? Well, unfortunately, it’s cos I’m gonna have to mention that bloody Windy bloke. DEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEANOOOOOOOOOO! He scored a foine free-kick, slotted another one well wide from Joey’s side of the pitch and wore the most ridiculous pair of boots I’ve ever seen. Although they were in keeping with his general antics on the pitch. Could this be why Joey is talking with non-Premiershit clubs? A tad miffed at playing the bridesmaid Mr Beauchamp? Yuk. Soz, the thought of Windass as a bride is rather nauseating. The only thing I have ascertained from this muddle of prose and form and commitment on the park is that I can go back on the beers. We lost while I was temporary teetotal. The new totem is Mand’s trainers. First worn at the QPR game but taken to Wembley for the Bulgaria debacle. All power to the pumps.

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Who’da thoughtit

(Bolton 1 United 1)

I don’t think I was alone in anticipating another thrashing at the Reebok Stadium, but all credit to the team, and especially to Malcolm Shotton for having the courage to make some vital changes. Out went Whelan, to be replaced by Wiiiil, and surprisingly Joey and Powelly were benching it, with the long-awaited return of our man Christophe, whose cross was turned in by Thommo for the equaliser. Let’s hope that this is the turning of the corner and we can go on from here to register our third away point sometime before Easter. Why didn’t we play like this at Swindon, Sunderland, Huddersfield etc etc?.?

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A fallible God

(Bury 1 Yellows 0)

An error from Whitehead meant we lost a game that we should have won. And Jemmo wasn’t even on the bench. Unintelligible sounds from Nick Harris on TVFM meant that those United fans who opted to stay in Oxford (and only 150 or so didn’t) had to endure the double pain of a distant defeat combined with Harris’s bollocks on the radio. Not quite sure what this means in terms of the season: does the result imply relegation, or does the performance herald a renaissance of our fortunes. Guess we’ll suss that one come May.

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Fortress Manor

(U’s 0 Sheffield Utd 2)

United’s habit of treating home games like away games continued against the Blades, as the Yellows sat back and tried futilely to attack on the break. Bob Ford scoring against us is becoming something of a routine for the habitual underachiever, but against this United side even Garry Smart would probably fancy his chances.

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Division Two calling U

(United 1 Crewe 1)

Failure to beat the likes of Crewe at home is the surest herald of relegation that there is. This game had all the elements of a relegation encounter, including United’s inability to win, and I came away from this one even more despondent than after the Tranmere game, if possible. Of course the result was overshadowed by all the bollocks going on off the pitch, with the news of the Grenoble collapse and all sorts of rumours running amok. I guess at this stage the fact that United is still fielding a team can be considered something of a victory.

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Floodlights don’t fail shock

(Watford 2 United 0)

The worse performance I’ve ever seen from a team wearing Watford shirts. Only problem is that it was United’s performance as the team somehow forgot that Watford also play in yellow and didn’t bring their white shirts. John Aldridge’s comments about Mickey Mouse seem apt. Rumours continued to abound, mostly concerning the club’s imminent demise or the departure of Shotts, Windass, Joey etc (although sadly not Cox). After this performance the most likely departure will be that of the fans (Oxford ’til it dies?).

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November 14th – remember this date?

(Birmingham 0 the MIGHTY Yellows 1)

Blimey. Not just an away win but an away win at a team that hadn’t yet lost at home, and where United hadn’t won since 1969. And the way that we won was pretty spectacular too, cos it’s the way that teams normally beat us – we were first to every ball and competed like we actually wanted to win, which is nothing short of remarkable for the current United team. Obviously it’s the “shop window” approach as the players realise that they’re up for sale at bargain prices. Long may it continue.

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Up for it

(United 2 Port Vale 1)

The first half hour or so of this game United continued where they left off at Brum, but then Vale pulled a goal back and we suddenly looked oh so frail again. The fact that we didn’t concede an equaliser is either indicative of our new-found commitment or that Port Vale really are as crap as they appeared. Any team that comes to the Manor and loses is obviously going to have a poor season, so it looks like Vale to go down with us and Crewe.

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The Sky’s the limit

(Norwich 1 the REAL Yellows 3)

A wondrous performance in front of the cameras gave United their third successive win for the first time since, ummm, the last time. Despite going a goal down the U’s never really looked like they were going to lose, and to equalise with a goal from Brian Wiiiiilsterman was especially glorious. Sky gave us lots of lovely TV coverage, which was nice, and those lovely Naaarich fans waved fivers at us as we left, which was very kind of them. Must be the mustard.

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Reality bites

(Oxford 0 Bradford City 1)

I knew it was too good to be true. Three wins on the bounce then we sell our most valuable player (for a less than valuable fee) and it all goes pear-shaped. Not that Jesus Jackson was responsible for Bradford’s goal, but the team was definitely lacking in confidence and was playing with a “who’s next to go?” attitude. And November seemed like such a nice month (Watford notwithstanding). Buggrit.

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Salmon fails to make the leap (!)

(Us 0 Brummies 7)

Even in retrospect it doesn’t get any easier. Before the game Gunthy said “Mike Salmon, he’s one of my heroes – fantaaastic goalie” and I believed him, git. It wasn’t all Salmon’s fault though, he was only directly responsible for the first, second, fourth and fifth goals by my reckoning. Where was Smarshy when needed? Oh yeah, playing for the opposition as the United car boot sale continued. How come we can’t offload the likes of Smith and Gray? It could be argued that we wouldn’t have a midfield then, but I don’t reckon that we’ve got one with them. At least the London Irish story made me smile (briefly, and only on the inside).

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Let’s not go to Stockport

(Stockers 2 Poxford 0)

As inevitable as New Year’s Day follows New Year’s Eve United followed up their recent home exploits with a defeat at Stockport. County are one of those teams, like Bury, Vale or Crewe, where we never seem to do well (I suppose you could add about another eighty odd names to that list). At least Andy Mutch didn’t score.

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Like turkeys at christmas

(United 1 Crystal Bloody Palace 3)

Three home defeats on the trot – we haven’t done that for a while. We actually looked like winning this one for a couple of minutes after Deano’s fantabulous equaliser. But then the makeshift defence fell apart and we got utterly plucked. Fair play, I suppose it was the first time that three of them had played at home, but still? I hate this time of year.

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If it’s a six-pointer, why did we only get 1point each?

(Pompey 2 Oxford 2)

Is this the turning of the corner, or just a blip on the continuing downward spiral on our inevitable journey to Division Two? And what’s Banger doing suddenly scoring goals like he’s been doing it all of his career? I wonder if this match will go down in history as the last one between two clubs which both go out of business in the same season? I also wonder when the last time was we conceded penalties in three successive games?

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Crewe cut (!)

(Crewe 1 United 3)

Golly. An away win! Why can’t we do that in the League (and I bet we don’t when we play Crewe in March)? When this draw was made I thought “bugger” an FA Cup exit at the one team in the division that’s even worse than us. But I was wrong (about the exit, not about them being worse). Mind you, I don’t suppose Chelsea are exactly quaking in their boots for when we meet them in the fourth round?.

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Nothing for Nothing

(Oxford 0 Bristol City 0)

This result was so predictable that I actually predicted it. If watching goals being scored is your only criteria for attending a match then you might as well have stayed at home for 90 minutes and saved yourself a tenner. In fact, if watching football is your criteria then the same thing applies. What else can be said about this bore draw? Nothing.

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Resisting using any puns on the home team’s name

(Grimsby 1 Utd 0)

Not a clue as to where United’s goals are going to come from, which means that even if we only concede one goal a match we’re going to continue to struggle. The performance as a whole wasn’t so bad, but who gives a toss about that if we don’t get anything for it?

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Reed my lips – “I love Chelsea”

(United 1 Arrogant Home Counties Bastads 1)

Enough has been written and spoken already about that penalty that there’s no need to spout on about it any more. More disconcerting was the way that players such as Wise and Leboeuf cheated throughout the game. You’d have thought that they might have wanted to try and win on merit, but maybe they realised that wouldn’t be possible. Even with Reed’s assistance and the Chelsea gamesmanship they couldn’t beat a United side that surprised even hardened old cynics like this reviewer! Still, never mind: at least the club will benefit from a pay-day at Stamford Bridge. Bollox!

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Oxford win League game shock

(Oxford 1 Barnsley 0)

Two “moments of magic” enlivened this rather dull encounter. First Deano’s excellent goal after some extraordinarily good work from Murph and Powell, when this game appeared to be going the same way as the Bristol match. Second was Deano’s lob from the half way line which only just cleared the Barnsley bar – if it had gone in it would easily have won the goal of the season award (if there is one?) – which demonstrates what vision the chap has.

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Oh well, can’t draw ’em all

(Arrogant gits 4 the Mighty Yellows 2)

At least we got another chance to sing “We’re broke, and we’re beating you”, even if it was just for five minutes. Chelsea supporters really are the scum of the earth, and the opulence of Stamford Bridge destroys any potential atmosphere. There were rip-offs aplenty, from the overpriced and undersized veggie burgers, to the programmes, the tickets, the players, the stewards, and the bouncers-cum-bodyguards who escorted Reed from the pitch at the end of each half. It made me glad that I didn’t have the misfortune to have been born in Twyford or somewhere else in the Chelsea heartland.

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Whinging Wolves

(Wolves 1 Oxford 1)

I’ve been asked to point out that the Wolves supporters are a bunch of whining gits, who spent the whole of the match, bar the three minutes they were ahead, whinging that they weren’t beating a little club like Oxford. Never mind the ground – with supporters like that Wolves definitely deserve a place in the Premiership. Shame that they won’t be getting one, then, innit?

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Local dreary

(Shotts’ Y&B Army 2 them 0)

United were crap, Swindon were crapper. I have to say that I’m getting extremely bored with all this “sit down if you hate Swindon” chanting. It was funny at first but it’s just plain dull now, as is most of the anti-Swindon chanting that goes on. The “build it up in Yellow and Blue” is okay, because at least it’s supportive of Oxford, but otherwise what’s the point? So we all hate Swindon, agreed, but shouting it out at the tops of our voices all the time isn’t going to spur on the lads to great things on the field. And it’s all the bloody time, what a waste of energy!

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F?licitations Remy’s Madame – encore s’il vous plait!

(‘Pswich 2 Oxford 1)

Xtof’s first goal for United was dedicated to his new-born son Lucas, so at least someone in the team can score twice! Let’s hope that Emmanuelle’s fertility is sustained for future seasons, because we need all the goals we can get! There is a conspiracy theory abroad which is the only explanation for why we appear to lose 2-1 every time we visit Portman Road. Or maybe it’s because we’re crap?

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Pay perve, U

(Us 0 Maccems 0)

The arguments about pay per view are expounded upon elsewhere in this issue and will probably be repeated more than once as it becomes closer to an inevitable regularity. I’ve been following Oxford for nigh on thirty years and as far as I’m aware I’ve been paying to view on each and every occasion. I guess that a few of our Maccem friends were happy to shell out so they didn’t have to put up with the shite view from the Cuckoo Lane, or the crap journey down the A/M1, but to hail the venture as a financial success (“our bank manager will be happy” was United’s justification for taking part in the experiment) seems a tad disingenuous when you consider that United probably won’t even receive ?20,000 from the affair. Whilst I feel sorry for the poor sods who already shell out a small fortune for a Sky sub so that they can get their footy fix (I suppose they can always go down the pub to watch if they can’t afford the extra) the issue really is what happens if the OFT wins their case against the “cartel” and each club negotiates its own TV deal. This is when the Uniteds of the world are gong to suffer, and this is when the League is going to have to provide some sort of protectionism for the clubs which won’t be able to generate income from PPV coverage.

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(QPR 1 Poxford 0)

They were appalllling – we were worse. A game to forget, although the hailstorm was spectacular, certainly compared to the football that was on offer. It was obvious that Deano’s mind was on matters more northern, but what was everyone else’s excuse? At least Joey had a decent game for a change and, considering he was totally out of position, Christophe looked like he knew what he was doing. At last we have a ground where the view from the away end is on a par with the Cuckoo Lane – expect the Rangers’ board to erect the fences any day now.

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Rough ref

(Buggies 2 Oxford 0)

Not only was this the coldest game of the season so far, but it was also the most appallingly officiated (and there’s a lot of competition). I don’t know the names of the officials involved (I’ve stopped buying programmes now as they are usually too expensive for what they are, which is uninformative, formularised, syndicated and advert-ridden) but the ref and checked-flag lino were without doubt the most inept, bungling pair of comedians since Laurel and Hardy. At least L & H were funny, sometimes. It’s often been a complaint that poor refereeing has cost us various games over the season (Reed notwithstanding) and usually that’s just been sour grapes as the officiating has been equally useless for both sides, but at the Hawthorns there was little doubt that it was Oxford on the receiving end of a succession of flawed decisions. The worst of these was the dismissal of Joey which was, to say the least, astonishing. It might not have cost us the game – we were never going to score if we’d still been playing now – but it certainly ended the match as a contest and it means a further suspension for someone who, now Windass has buggered off oop north, could be our most vital player for the remainder of the season. Whilst one has to congratulate Gerrard for the efficient manner in which he ended Hughes’s interest in the game, it remains a worry that we don’t have anyone who knows how to score goals, nor any cover for the left-back. In fact the biggest concern arising from the game was the fact that Murphy looked the most threatening player for United – it was his shot that led to the only save that former-God had to make. The future is dim, the future’s not Yellow?.

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Goals from Nowhere

(Oxford 2 Huddersfield 2)

Just as it looked that, post-Windass, we were never going to score again somehow we managed to pop two past a Huddersfield side that, on this showing, are not Premier League bound. Indeed, we could and should have won this one but for some inept defending again. Someone ought to tell Kevin Francis to stay out of our own box and let others defend at set pieces. There is little doubt that it was a penalty – it was just the timing that was a tad cruel. At least this game saw the first goal of the season for our very own Rage On Sponsored Jamie Cook, although unfortunately the cost of sponsoring a player nowadays mean that it’s highly unlikely that we’ll be able to afford to continue our association with young Jamie, or anyone else. Perhaps we’ll have to do a whacky Yellow Fever type Viz-style prank and sponsor his jock strap or something?
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Back to the Form Book

(United 0 Watford 0)

Yet another promotion chasing team leaves the Manor with only a point, and yet another United performance that was undermined by our lack of anyone who can score. Watford certainly looked stronger at the back than Huddersfield, but that’s not saying a lot about a defence that allowed United to score twice. There was a kind of irony about the away team having to use United’s shorts for this game, after we had to wear the Watford second strip at Vicarage Road, but that was about as far as the humour has extended this season, and even that wasn’t particularly funny. We might have more of a chance if the away team forgets its forwards and we have to lend them our strikers.
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Oh My God! Murph’s in Goal!

(Crewe 3 Poxford 1)

Oxford’s seventh game without a win, and a defeat that could prove vital come May. Gerrard, lucky not to see red at West Brom, achieved the rare distinction of being dismissed in this match, although not without some controversy. This led to the frightening prospect of Matt Murphy going in goal which, to be fair, meant that he could do less damage to our chances than when he was up front. Whether or not Gerrard actually fouled Rodney Jack is open to debate, although what a pointless debate that would be as it’s all done and dusted now. At least he’ll have some memories to take back to Everton with him.
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Oxford wins Away shock

(Sheff U 1 Yellows 2)

The last minute – always a good time to score! I wonder if the Blades have Pompey connections, as Banger usually only ever scores against his old south coast rivals. His contract is up at the end of the season so he’s either playing for it to be renewed, or trying to attract all those Premiership scouts hovering like vultures to pick him up on a Bosman. Interesting that Jean-Marc Bosman, whose court action against his former club, Standard Liege, eventually led to his colleagues achieving freedom of movement across the EU and virtually the same rights as all other EU workers on fixed term contracts, is now living in poverty whilst those who benefited from his action, such as McManaman, are earning stupid sums without a thought for the chap who made it possible for them.
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Goalless up the Manor – quelle surprise

(Oxford 0 Bolton 0)

Yet another game vaguely dominated by United, whose inability to score meant another two points go begging. Bolton was yet another top team whose position wasn’t justified by their performance at the Manor, either promotion jitters or they’re in awe of our magnificent stadium. Or maybe we’re so good that these big teams just don’t know how to play against us?
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The Great Escape

(Tranmere 2 Oxford 2)

I don’t know if anyone keeps statistics on such things, but this season United have conceded so many penalties that they must be at least approaching the record. Two more at Prenton Park looked to have condemned us to another dismal away defeat but a fighting spirit that has been too often lacking this season somehow asserted itself and two late goals rescued a point for Shotts against his former colleague Aldo. The main question arising from this game is over the behaviour of the Tranmere stewards, who seemed to be expelling spectators merely for having the audacity to support the away team.
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Looking Bad

(Relegation Fodder 0 Bury 1)

If we can’t beat teams like Bury at home then basically we deserve everything we get. This was their first away win of the season, and gives them the double over us, which in itself is a damning statistic. It would be a travesty if Bury don’t get relegated as their brand of football is reminiscent of Cambridge under the worst days of John Beck. But on the other hand I don’t particularly want to watch them again next season so maybe it would be better if they did stay up, as we sure as hell won’t with results like these.
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Looking Worse

(Port Vale 1 Oxford 0)

This result, combined with the Bury one, effectively relegates us and we only have ourselves (and circumstances I suppose) to blame. Whilst you can point to United having to sell players such as Whitehead, Marsh and Windass, plus unfortunately losing Whelan on loan to Rotherham, and not having any cash to buy replacements, there have also been some performances of quite awesome ineptitude for which the only excuse can be that we’re just crap. It will certainly be interesting to see how we do next season in Division Two, as most of our players are Div.2 standard at best. Certainly on this season’s showing I won’t be expecting a very quick return to the First, and should we miraculously escape the drop then I dread to think how we’re going to fare next season with this squad.
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Naaaarge get Revenge

(Us 2 Canaries 4)

It’s a rare day indeed that United scores two goals. Unfortunately it is a lot more common that we concede more than two, and with defending such as we saw in the second half that’s hardly surprising. Wiiiiiil came off the bench to score his second career goal, and his second against the East Anglian carrot crunchers, and Big got his first of the season. Sadly it was only when we were 3-2 down that we started to believe that we could play and by then it was too late and we got caught on the break. It’s been a recurring theme of these chronicles that United have dominated games but haven’t been able to score (at least since Windass left). Well that excuse is a perennial and can be brought out again for this match, and probably the last two as well.
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(Bradford City 0 Oxford 0)

It’s still mathematically possible for United to stay up, only I’m crap at maths. All it needs is for Bury to lose at home to Port Vale, QPR to lose at home to Palace, and Oxford to beat Stockport by scoring four goals more than QPR score. Easy. What’s the betting that we beat Stockers 5-0 and then Rangers score a last minute equaliser against Palace to piss on our fireworks? Actually I suspect that the betting would give pretty good odds as there’s no way this team could score twice, never mind five times! Okay, I give up – we’re down. Now, what’s the best route to Burnley?
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Bye Bye Div One, Hello Div Two

(Oxford 5 Stockport 0)

Five excellent goals, all of them ultimately pointless. A nice way to bow out of a division that we might not get to see again for a while, and a result that doesn’t bode too well for Stockport next season (although they probably weren’t trying too hard). Now there’s two long months to go before we get to watch United underachieve again next season….
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