Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Return of The Macc

Tuesday, 28th December 2010
nPower League Two
OUFC 2 Macc Lads 1



Foggy, wasn't it?

I must admit, the way the pea-souper was descending just before half-time, I nearly had a gentlemen's bet with those around me in the East Stand that the match would not last 90 mins. Then I realised that I wasn't really an expert in localised meteorological predictions. Plus there were no gentlemen anywhere near me.

After no less than five full Earth-weeks since I last saw Oxford play, it was certainly a rousing performance to warm the cockles after those freezing few weeks, despite the ghostly presence of the fog.

I started the day in snowless, fogless Reading at the in-laws after an extended few days of engorging myself. After setting out on Boxing Day for the aborted trip to Stevenage, I returned whence I'd came for another day of eating Christmas leftovers.

After Roast Turkey, Cold Turkey, Turkey Salad, Turkey Sandwiches, Curried Turkey and Turkey Soup, I felt an urgent need to sample a manky grot-burger at the football instead.
Even the Turkey had had enough of eating turkey: Here he tries to make a quick getaway.
Sadly for those awaiting news of my latest run-in with Branos staff, I wasn't to make it there for a spicy chicken burger this time out - a new-found aversion to all things poultry put paid to that. So to the McDonalds on the Oxford Road at Benson it was for my first non-Turkey treat of the festive season. Nothing very interesting happened there, but it is an actual fact.

Arrived soon after in Oxford and popped into a very busy Blackbird for a swift pre-match pint; the place was heaving and the spirits were high. Which is a good thing too as any lower and the children might have reached the whisky.

The coming fog had been forewarned to us whilst we supped our mulled fosters - it was bumper to bumper on the M40 due to the reduced visibility and if it moved towards the City the game might be in peril. It seemed unlikely, given it was quite clear and rather mild outside.

The game started then with no serious concerns about fog. The First-half was played at a high-tempo and we knew it was going to be quite a physical affair early when one of the gigantic Macclesfield full-backs up-ended Constable maliciously down by the touchline.
We were clearly causing the bully-boys of Macc problems though and stamped our authority on the game with a very well-worked opener from the magnificent Heslop.

The spectre of abandonment soon became quite evident as the first half progressed though. Not normally one to panic or fear the worst, I was panicking and fearing the worst. My next-door neighbour eased my worries. "Look, you can clearly still see the Vue cinema behind the goal."

He was right. There was hardly going to be a problem of the game being called off if we could still see the Vue Cinema from the East Stand.

Five minutes later, you couldn't see the Vue cinema from the East Stand anymore.

Suddenly I wasn't the only one wondering if we might see our first abandoned game at the Kassam. People were asking each other how many minutes would need to be played for the result to stand? (I believe it is 79 minutes, but someone may be able to confirm or deny that).

The fog was rolling in fast and a half-time plea by Rosie for the East Stand to blow the fog away was taken seriously by some of the children, I noticed. The silly child-fools only seemed to be adding to the problem though, as their warm exhales of breath added to the foggy smoke of the early evening. Bloody idiots.

As the second half recommenced, the Macclesfield players took the field and their imposing back-line emerged from the fog renewed and desperate to stamp their ghastly menace back into the game. Despite this our persistence paid off and a lovely run from young Mr Potter was eventually finished off by Mr Constable and it seemed like the Macc brutes were sure to disappear back into the fog, whence they came.

Macclesfield emerging from the fog: Menacing.
Yet despite this, the hordes continued to terrorise and a dodgy late goal led to a nervy last 10 minutes (can we ever, EVER do it the easy way?!), but we dang well held on as the fog finally seemed to lift on the final whistle, as did our spirits as we march on up the table to the dizzy heights of 11th.

After the 2nd half horror-show at Moss Rose in October, do I think we deserved to hang on for a win after going 2-0 up in the Return of the Macc?

Yes I do. Yes I do, do, do.

Friday, 24 December 2010

In Pursuit of the Perfect Boxing Day


Jingle Balls.

Ahh, Christmas time! Mistletoe & wine! Children singing Christian rhymes…


Doesn’t it make you feel all warm inside, thinking about all those lovely Christmas things? Actually though, I don’t know about the children singing Christian rhymes - certainly hearing local youths rapping about Jesus isn’t something I’ve really seen this Christmas or any.

Perhaps Cliff meant Christian carols? But then that wouldn’t fit with the song, would it? Unless it went “Christmas carols, mistletoe and barrels” perhaps. But then that just sounds odd.

Anyway, I digress.

Once I’ve listened to a bit of Cliff, what Christmas really means for me is a long, exciting build up to the big day itself.

And no, I don’t mean Christmas Day – I mean the day after that, for the big Boxing Day Oxford game. When we all forget about stuffing our faces, trying not to swear in front of granny and pretending to be happy with the nice reindeer jumper she’s knitted for us.

Indeed Boxing Day for most people reading this programme is likely to be the day when we put on our bobble hats and scarves (and maybe even Granny’s jumper, if it’s very cold) and head out for a few hours to the most anticipated game of the year.

It’s always one of the first fixtures you look at when the list comes out in the summer. It’s the only one you really, really want to be a home game. There’s nothing quite like a Boxing Day home game, after all.

A quick poke of the head into your regular drinking hole before the game, merry Christmases all round and everyone there with all the family in tow. Old faces you haven’t seen all season, all then making their merry way to Grenoble Road, perhaps with a festive bag of chips, and a few larks throwing snowballs at your friends.

You take your seat; you’ve warmed up with a nice cup of Bovril and get ready to cheer on the Yellows in front of a packed, full-capacity stadium. After the game and a resounding victory for The U’s perhaps back to that drinking hole again for a few more winter warmers – after all, there are at least another two or three days left before having to think about going back to work! So ends the perfect Boxing Day and Christmas are complete.

Sadly, this perfect Dickensian rosy picture of how I love the day-after-Christmas to pan out hasn’t quite worked out for the last few seasons. In fact you have to go back to 2007 since we last had a home Boxing Day game.

Last year, the game was postponed of course due to the weather. I’d already driven up by the time I found out so it was a disappointed trip to the pub with other aggrieved faces before a last minute decision to take in Didcot v. Oxford City instead on the way back home. It was a good game in truth (4-4 if you are interested. You’re not you say? Oh), but hardly made up for the Boxing Day experience I was expecting.
A Sorry Sight.
The year before that, 2008 brought a miserable trip to a windy field on the outskirts of Salisbury to what is surely the most disappointing place to hold a Boxing Day game of football.

Too far from the City centre to use it as a base, the nearest pub a 45mins walk away down a busy road with no pavement, so either up to the ankles in boggy mud or running the risk of getting a festive smack by a car.

To top that off, away fans not allowed into the supporters’ bar on the day. In fact, I think I remember being told there wasn’t a supporters’ bar by the very helpful stewards. So having turned up at the giddy hour of 12pm expecting some great pre-match Boxing Day atmosphere in a nearby country pub, I instead sat in my car for two hours, before another two hours queuing for a mediocre burger amongst other hungry, cold and disappointed travelling Oxford. Then we lost the match and Sam Deering had his leg broken by a dastardly rogue. I also got lost on the way home and my sat-nav directed me into the middle of a field somewhere in the wilds of Wiltshire. This wasn’t a good Boxing Day. The only good thing about it was that it marked the first game in the hot seat for a certain Mr Wilder.

So this year, it was a bit disappointing to again know there was to be no home Boxing Day game. Stevenage away isn’t quite the festive treat it might otherwise have been.

Orange Balls, Please.
In fact, as I write this, the weather is still touch and go and may still scupper the game anyway, and after already seeing the pre-Festive game on the 18th against Shrewsbury postponed due to Jack Frost being a mischievous little tyke – in my mind, Christmas is almost ruined.

Almost though, but not entirely because of the game against Macclesfield on the 28th (which WILL go ahead. Yes, it will. Bright sunshine all over Oxford today, mark my words).

December 28th should thus be treated as the REAL Boxing Day by all Oxford fans - I urge you all to treat it as such and have a right rollicking good knees up in front of a decent crowd.

Just write off the two days inbetween – if you are anything like me you’ll have pretty much done so anyway, sleeping off that turkey for the past 48 hours and sticking my fingers in my ears and pretending I don’t have to go to work on the 29th.

I’m sure my boss will understand…

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

No Football

Ok, this is getting ridiculous now. It's now a whole calendar month since I attended an Oxford United game.

It just doesn't feel right. Assuming the game goes ahead on Boxing Day, that'll be 2 days short of 5 weeks since I last saw the (mostly Blue &)Yellow on display. Actually, we were wearing white the last time out anyway. Ho-hum.

It'll be the second time already this season I've gone a full calendar month without being to a game.

In my entire adult life (other than a year travelling (and yes, obviously also the summer, smart arse)), I have never gone more than 3 weeks without watching Oxford; until this season. Now I've gone and done it twice within 3 months. I don't like it.

The first time was due to a once-in-a-lifetime thing. A marriage. My own in fact. Hopefully a once-in-a-lifetime thing, anyway. All the pre-and post thingummies around that marriage, like planning it and going on a honeymoon, all took me away from football-watching duties.

Impossible as some of you may think, it was actually worth missing a few relatively unimportant games over.

But with all this weather nonsense hot on the heels and providing me yet another football-free month at such notice, I'm a little worried I may get out of the habit.

At the moment, oh yes I'm chomping at the bit to get to the Stevenage game. If it's off I'll be forced to spend Boxing Day watching TV, eating more food and socially engaging still-further with loved ones. Dear god. I'm not sure I can stay socially engaging myself for such prolonged periods - I need to get out, jump around and sing and swear at the football a bit. It's just not Christmas otherwise.

However, it's very easy to fall out of the habit. One thing I've noticed over the years is that whilst faces come and go, most that do go tend to go for good.

Those that do still go are the hardy common or garden perennials that rarely miss a game, certainly not at home. You do get the odd sighting of the Lesser-Spotted new parent, the Rare-Crested Exile or the Fair-Weathered Great Tit. Generally though, if someone flies south for winter for an extended period, you rarely see them back again.

I was actually guilty of nearly falling off the badly-metaphored bird-seed feeder of support after returning from my travels in 2004. Having spent 14 months traipsing across mountains, atolls, glaciers and backwaters, I had come to terms with an absence from the world of football. I had concluded that I had wasted too much time watching it and should do more with my spare time on my return to Britain, or more likely just bugger off around the world again.

This mindset lasted about 3 weeks. I thought I'd be social and go and say hello to the hardcores still going every week, before continuing my voyage of discovery in different fields. Perhaps I would pop in every couple of months like the Great Tit mentioned above, perhaps disappear forever into legend.

It only took a 0-0 bore-draw with Rushden & Diamonds to convince me to get a season ticket again. The magnet had been too strong, my inkling to leave this mad, crazy, obsessive compulsive world too ethereal to stop it's onslaught on my senses and sensibilities.

The Oxford United juggernaut steam-rollered me into submission once again. Even now, married and living in exile, I still attend around 80%* of games.

Only time will tell if this year's double-hiatus will send me back to the dark, football-free thoughts of Autumn 2004.

See you on Boxing Day!

*This statistic made-up on the spot, but rather convincingly, I'm sure you'll agree.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Holding Message

Sorry if you turned up here expecting something about the game at the weekend this morning.

Afraid I didn't go to this one. Heard it was an exciting end though. Suggest you go and have a look at someone else's blog for an idea of what happened. To be honest I don't even know who were were playing.
Might be going to Lincoln next Saturday- havn't decided yet though, as the weather may not be fair enough for a part-timer like me.

I'll definately be at the Shrewsbury game on the 18th though. You can be sure of that.

Toodle-pip.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

In-SPIRE-d

Tuesday, 23rd November 2010.

nPower League Two
Chesterfield 1 OUFC 2


Quite an effort to get up to Chesterfield on a Tuesday night for me.
 
For a start - I work in South Kent. So had to take a half-day really to have any hope of making this fixture.
 
So I did take one.
 
A few people thought I was a mental. "Why are you going up there, a 300-mile round trip, on a freezing November evening, to watch us almost certainly get dicked by the league leaders?"
 
Well, I don't know really. The same reason I cried at Wembley I guess - because I love the football club. Can't really explain away such irrationality. And so, fully expecting not to be back home till 1am, anticipating a likely miserable defeat, I still decided to set off to North Derbyshire.
 
I left London at about 2pm for the trudge up the M1, actually not realising quite how far up Chesterfield was until I got to the outskirts of town and saw that Sheffield was only 12 miles away. My heart sank a little, thinking about the journey home.

Spire: Out of Shape
As regular readers will know, I always like to see a bit of local culture on an away day, and other than the pots of yoplait in the local Lidl, the famous crooked spire is about all Chesterfield has to offer as far as I am aware. So it was nice to drive past it. You can see it to the left here. It's quite a retarded old thing.

Very little else to see or do before the match, but I did manage to get some shoddy service in a fast-food establishment, which seems to be becoming a bit of a regular matchday experience.

The establishment in question was one of those Chinese takeaways with a sideline of Fish & Chips. I've always thought them an odd thing - why is it only Chinese takeaways that decide to stick a fryer on the counter and offer saveloys alongside their chop suey? You never see Indian takeaways doing that do you?

Anyway, if they are going to sideline into a different cuisine, the least they can do is put someone on the counter who knows what it is. When I asked the young chap for a Chip Cob, he looked at me perplexed. You may think this not that unusual, as unless you have spent time living in the Midlands yourself, you might wonder what the feck a cob is yourself.

A cob is a bread roll to us Southerners, or a bap or barm to those of a more Northerly persuasion. In the Midlands though - it's a cob. I know this as I lived in Leicester as a child and my father is from Mansfield.

I could tell the chap in the takeaway was from China by his heavy accent, and so yes, might not have had this ingrained knowledge from a young age such as I did. But he was living in Chesterfield, where Cob is an often-bandied about term. He was also working in a fish & chip shop, where a Chip Cob would be an oft-asked for local item. To top it all off, 'Chip Cob' was also number 114 on the pigging menu in front of him.

He had no fucking idea what I was asking for. He kept asking "Chip what?" and gesturing if I meant I wanted chips in a plastic tray. He even asked me to show him what number it was on the menu, but that didn't help, and he had to get the manager. Very poor.

I'm not going to name and shame this establishment, but it WAS the New Dragon Inn on the Sheffield Road.

When the Chip cob eventually came, it certainly did warm the cockles however, on what was becoming a very cold night, a long way from home. My mind again flitted back to the long drive ahead as I pulled on my thermal coat, hat and scarf, and trudged into the new stadium of the current league leaders.

B2net Stadium: New.
Starting brightly, it all seemed like it would again be for nothing after 14mins when Chesterfield went 1-0 up after a wildly speculative effort was deflected past Clarke. The chap sat behind me even turned to ask the rest of us if we had already decided what the score would be before we gave up and started back home.

My answer was that I'd probably head home if Chesterfield went 3 goals up. So had my confidence been dented by a month of mediocre and at times piss-poor football from Oxford. How fickle, and how wrong I had been.

We were amazing. At times, Chesterfield showed why they are up at the top and bossed the midfield and looked dangerous upfront - but we seemed to be matching them. At Half-Time, all of the 348 Oxford in attendance seemed pretty positive of our chances of getting something from this, if we carried on taking it to them like we had done in the first 45.

And oh, how we took it to them. What a Second Half. There were scares at the end as Chesterfield chased the game, but we deserved that result, and not a man amongst the Oxford on the pitch comes out of last night with anything but the utmost credit.


 It just goes to show how much it's about confidence. We clearly have the players to do it, and we did do it last night. After idle rumour and speculation yesterday, it was great to see that reaction from the players, and especially from Wilder at the end - passionately grabbing the badge on his coat and raising it to the fans in jubilation.



As for the fans, well, we were rather excited too. Check out the look on this old boy's face below - one of many, myself included, who made the journey home happy, buzzing and content at the long trip North.


Oxford Fan at Full-Time: Rather Happy.
I myself got back home just before 1am, after numerous lane closures and 50mph limits on the M1.

Madness. But worth it.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Sick to The Gills

Saturday, 20th November 2010
nPower League Two
OUFC 0 Gillingham 1


Meh.

Monday, 15 November 2010

I'd Rother Not Bother.

Saturday, 13th November 2010.
nPower League Two
Rotherham United 2 OUFC 1




Better. Much Better. Yet still nothing to show for it.

My new wife & I decided to make a weekend of this one. Not that she would be coming to the game of course - oh no, I've learnt my lesson there about trying to force football upon her. But she will, at least, tolerate my obsession and from time to time allow me to build a weekend around it if there is something in it for her.

With the rather large shopping complex of Meadowhall only 2 miles away from Don Valley Stadium, Rotherham's odd decision to become Sheffield's third team* certainly helped in this regard. As did a friend's house party in Leeds that evening. And my wife's grandma inviting us for Sunday lunch in Doncaster the following day. I love it when a plan comes together.

So, off we set early on Saturday morning up the M1 to the outskirts of Sheffield to Itinerant Rotherham's new ground.

Well, I say 'ground', but what I actually mean is athletics track. This was not a football ground, quite clearly. It did have a nice enough stand down the side, that the Rotherham fans were in. Then it had 2 small single-block covered stands either-side of the main stand, looking onto the corner of the pitch - one of which housed the travelling U's fans.  Completing the circuit around the athletics track were a number of uncovered blocks, all un-used leaving around ¾ of the ground looking rather desolate and empty.


Don Valley: It's Just Not Football.
 As you can see, the view was pretty cock from where we were. I could just make out the far goal, beyond the long jump sand pit and steeplechase water jump. The atmosphere was even worse than the view though - as you might expect from a ground miles away from the fucking pitch and with three empty sides.

It was cold last week at Burton, but colder still in Sheffield - and as I watched Rotherham's second go in just after 30 mins, I couldn't help wondering whether it might be nicer sat in Cafe Rouge with a Steak Frites and a glass of Stella with my wife, only 2 miles away.

As it was I was sat with blue fingers sipping luke-warm tea and listening to some of the more backwards Oxford fans around me talking utter shite, and wondering how the hell they managed to survive this long in life.

One guy was still shouting and swearing at the ball boys having a kick around with a ball that had gone out of play a full 2 minutes after another ball boy had already sent a second ball into play and the game had resumed. When he eventually noticed that the game had re-started while the ball he clearly thought was the only one in the ground was still with the ball boys, it very nearly blew his fragile mind.

Despite a spirited performance, there was no way back from the Le Fondre brace for Oxford it seemed, and so we sunk to yet another defeat and alarm bells might well be sounding for some. Not for me though - I was impressed with new loanees Wotton & MacLean, and thought that generally we played well and on another day might have even won, rather than coming away with nothing.

And it could be worse. It must be fucking terrible for Rotherham fans, to be fair. Not only do they have to travel to the next town to see their team play, but to the next town that already has two much better Football League sides in it, so they are hardly likely even to pick up any new fans. They are more likely to just have the piss taken out of them by any Wednesday & United fans that come across the brave few souls who cross the M1 on a matchday into enemy territory.

Luckily for them, yet certainly not for us, they have Mr Le Fondre at the moment and the way he's scoring, I don't imagine we'll see him still with the Millers for the return fixture in Oxford next February. 

He proved the difference on the day, as both teams got into space, had good chances, made mistakes - but Mr Le Fondre put his away very simply where perhaps we did not make the best of ours.


Soon we were being forced to make the walk of shame out of the ground around the track, past 7 or 8 blocks of empty seats that will presumably only ever be filled if Usain Bolt were to visit during an athletics meet.

It was certainly an odd place to watch a game of league football, and one I'd rather wasn't a football venue. I must admit to be hankering somewhat for a rickety old moss-covered stand, crumbling underfoot, with the threat of iron girders falling from above never far from your mind. Ahh, the beauty of what should be the lower leagues.

Instead of driving South with all the other mildly-disgruntled Oxford fans, I was heading North up the M1 after the game, to Leeds for the house-warming of a Sheffield Wednesday fan. One interesting snippet from him to end the day, was that Steve MacLean was absolute class when he was with them, just a few years ago.

Let's hope he has still got it.

He was also a fucking Astronaut, I ought to add. Amazing guy.




*Rotherham are even in the process of changing names it seems to 'The Sheffield Eagles', judging by all the signs around the ground.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Burton Men Swear

Sunday, 7th November 2010
FA Cup - 1st Round

Burton Albion 1 OUFC 0




Fucking Hell.

I'm gonna break with tradition in this entry and talk a little bit more about the actual game than I usually do. Because it was rather poor yesterday.

First though, the normal pointless ramble about my pre-match.

The day started quite badly, to be honest, as I had a bastard behind the eyes after a few too many in my parents' pub on Saturday night. Even one of my mother's famous cooked breakfasts wasn't going down very well. In fact it was close to coming back up very rapidly. The idea of driving to the home of beer after the skinful I'd had the night before didn't appeal much either.

So I was pleased to have been offered a lift from Oxford to Burton by a friend, and so soon set off to make this lift. I couldn't help noticing how beautiful the autumnal colours of the trees were on this crisp day as I drove down the A4074, so I slowed to capture the image below on my phone.

Autumn Colours: Grave
 Only on looking back later did I notice the omen of our early exit from the FA Cup in the bottom left-hand corner of the photo, a grave marker. If you look closely, it clearly marks the end of our season...

We arrived swiftly in Burton after a good run and straight to The Beech Inn just down the road from the ground, an old haunt ever since our first visit there back in 2006. Just in time to see Count von Count from Sesame Street commence the 2nd Round draw.

"Welcome to FA Headquarters for the FA Cup
2nd Round Draw. Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha"

Always nice to be in the hat for the next round, and for once we were in it before knowing whether we'd progressed due to the Sunday kick-off of our game with Burton.

Much excitement in The Beech, as it was possible not only to draw Swindon, but perhaps even Swindon Supermarine. Imagine.

As it was, The Count wasn't able to give us a plum draw, instead getting the League 2 leaders Chesterfield at home. Shit draw.

Not that it would matter anyway of course by 5pm, as a grossly inadequate performance meant we were out and this season's cup exploits over without even the hint of a whimper.

Not sure where to start on the game itself. I don't think I've ever seen an Oxford side look so inept, so woefully out of shape, so lacking in desire for the ball or inspiration as the one that took to the field in the 1st half.

I'm loathe to criticise what I don't understand, but I don't think I've ever seen a team start with 4 full-backs on the pitch before. Quite novel. Perhaps Wilder has come up with a revolutionary new tactic designed to totally baffle the other side.

Sadly, it seemed more to baffle his own players, none of who seemed to know where they were supposed to be, weren't picking up their men and become totally over-ran by a Burton side who looked a division above Oxford for the entire first half.

After the woeful form of Tonkin in recent weeks, and the lack of decent crossing in the team noticeable especially against Turkey in mid-week, you'd have thought Kinniburgh & arguably our best crosser Purkiss were due a recall. Well, they were recalled, but not instead of the incumbents, AS WELL as them.

Wilder on acid? Such suspicions seemed to have more weight when changes in the 2nd half saw one of the four starting full-backs, Purkiss, moved to centre-midfield. Strangely though, this seemed to improve things somewhat - which sadly only highlights how inept and out of the game our midfield had been until this point.

As my hangover seemed to get worse, the home fans seemed to be taunting me with chants of "Brewers, Brewers!" ringing out around the ground. Well, I say ringing out - I more mean shallowly audible above the swearing and tutting from the away terrace.
Although we did start to play in the 2nd half, you just always felt it was a matter of time before Burton grabbed something - and only the most blinkered of fans would suggest they deserved anything more than to progress to the 2nd Round at our expense.

Make no mistake, had we been playing a more clinical side yesterday, or Clarke hadn't had another good game closing down quickly when the players in front of him had let Burton waltz through the middle of them, we'd have lost the game by a hatful of goals.

Something clearly is wrong somewhere right now. Confidence is low and there seems to be a general malaise at the moment among the players and the fans.

Things change quickly though and we can only hope that Wilder gets to the bottom of it soon before the season really will be over as far as any ambitions of sneaking into the play-offs are concerned.

To quote the bard - "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark".
To quote the bloke stood next to me yesterday - "Fucking Hell Oxford! Sort it fucking out you fucking cunts!"

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Pre-Christmas Turkeys

Tuesday, 2nd November 2010.
nPower League Two
OUFC 0 Turkey 2





 For some reason, I knew it wasn't going to be a good evening early on yesterday, when I had an argument with the man in the Branos fast food outlet on Blackbird Leys on my way to the game.

Regular readers will know that I often chow down on a Branos spicy chicken burger before home games. It's become something of a ritual this season in fact. Even though I'd heard alleged stories about them cooking flies in their chicken, I simply can't resist their spicy secret recipe, and if it does allegedly trump the Colonel's 11 herbs and spices with the addition of insects, it's a winning recipe. As I said, allegedly.

So, imagine my disdain last night when having ordered a Spicy chicken burger, waited 15mins as others got served before me, the cheeky chappy tried to pass off a NON-spicy chicken burger to me. He obviously didn't realise I was a seasoned Branos man, and fully aware that their chicken pieces have a slight orange tinge to them if they've been coated in their spicy glaze. The one he'd presented to me was not orange...

J'ACCUSE, BRANOS MAN!!!

What really incensed me was his dismissive tone, saying that they didn't have any spicy pieces so I would have to have a non-spicy burger.

OH WOULD I INDEED, MR BRANOS MAN?! Maybe I could just demand my money back and take my spicy chicken lust elsewhere!!! That would teach you, wouldn't it, you spicy-burger tease, you!

As it was, I was pretty hungry after a 2 hour drive from work, so I begrudgingly took the non-spicy burger, with or without the alleged flies. But not before I'd made him feel slightly awkward. A small victory, I thought.

It was only after I left the shop that I realised that the Turkish-run Branos had clearly deliberately refused me my spicy chicken in a bid to upset me before Oxford played their fellow countrymen that evening. Dastardly behaviour indeed, but I had to admire their cunning attempt to put me off cheering on Oxford that evening due to mild food-based disgruntlement.

As it was, my disgruntlement was further heightened on watching the teams come out onto the field - Turkey, not in their traditional red kit, but in YELLOW. What the flying fuck? It was bad enough having to for some reason play a nation state as part of the League 2 campaign (and a rapidly improving football nation at that), but they also get to play in our home colours?

I'd already aired my reservations about the new mostly blue kit earlier in the season - but this now highlighted exactly why it wasn't quite sitting right with me. A team could come to our home and get away with an all-yellow kit, so un-yellow was our own current strip. Very disappointing and I'm blaming that as much as the lack of a pre-match spicy burger for the inept performance last night. Oh, and the players as well. I'm blaming them too.

This was my first match in exactly a month - since the victory over table-toppers Port Vale. How things have changed in that time, and I don't just mean the performance on the pitch, I mean more specifically the attitude of the fans.

True, I wasn't at Bradford last weekend so didn't have to endure the 2nd half collapse, so perhaps the anger was partly justified by those who'd travelled up to Yorkshire to see that. But something that someone who has been away for a few games (such as I) can truly notice more than those there every week is how different the atmosphere was at the KasStad from a month ago.

The optimism - gone.
The confidence - gone.

How quickly things can change. How fickle is both the form of players and the attitude of the fans.

I'm not going to pretend that the outcome last night, against 10 men, was anything less than woeful -  but I'm still astounded that people are so quick to get on the players' backs and boo the team. Do people actually think the players will take inspiration from that, or just lose more confidence and play even worse?

Anyone that seriously concludes the former is delusional.

Certainly, we can take little away from last night's performance except that a couple of players may need to take a look at themselves and perhaps have a little time on the bench for the next few games. Some questions again on the tactics, team selection and substitutions from 'Tinkerer' Wilder - we all remember when he got that label last year and the turgid couple of months that came out of it.

To top it all off, the chap in the seat in front of me won the 50/50 draw.

£1,050.

I'm not saying I deserved it more than him, but I did deserve it more than him.

Well, the game is over now. I returned to my car and drove back to London, listening to the rants of the callers on Radio Oxford in a slightly depressed state as you might expect.

It's tight in the league this season - before last night we were 4 points off the play-offs and 4 points of relegation. Things can change quickly, for better or worse. Let's just hope the optimism and the form of just a few weeks ago returns sooner rather than later.

A diversion into the FA Cup might be just what we need right about now.

Up The Yellows! Mostly Blues!








Oh, and did you spot the deliberate mistake? The above flag was of course the flag of Tunisia. The flag of Turkey is here below. More Islamic flag-based tomfoolery next time, folks!
The Real Turkey Flag. Similar to Tunisia.
 
 

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Getting Married in the Football Season

Ahoy there fellow Yellows!

Well, I'm now a married man, and soon the football will return to the more prominent areas of my thoughts as my exile for wedding planning, wedding itself and forthcoming honeymoon come to an end.

I next intend to be up watching those boys in (mostly blue &)Yellow on November 2nd, for Turkey at home. I aim to have a new blog entry up for that game.

For now though, I reproduce for your delectation my article from the Matchday Programme against Port Vale, a few weeks back.

ENJOY!

Getting Married in the Football Season
Article first appeared in Matchday Programme v. Port Vale, 2nd October 2010.

Although my attendance this season started well in August, I’ve actually been AWOL for the last two weekends. I am here today, but afraid that I’ll also be absent for the next few weekends after this, too.

Dreadful really, isn’t it? What could possibly have led to such a committed yellow such as I to miss so much of our return to the football league?

Well, I’m getting married next weekend. Yes – in the middle of the football season.

You may laugh at my misfortune. You may even snort in disgust at my disloyalty to commit so heinous a crime. Cleary, I can’t be a real fan, getting married in the football season, eh?

Well, this might be your first impression, but you’d be wrong – and have failed to understand my canny logic for long-term gains.

When I first met my future wife, she had no interest and no understanding of football whatsoever. Now however, she has no interest and no understanding of football whatsoever. But she does know how much it means to me.

She doesn’t claim to be able to relate to my obsession; is appalled that I want to wear an OUFC pin-badge on my wedding suit; and even wanted to wear a red dress to marry me in before I set her straight on what a faux pas that would be. But she knows OUFC is important to me.

So you see, by planning a wedding for a Saturday during the season, I will indeed miss that game, plus a few others with the planning and honeymooning and whatnot. BUT – and this is the clever part – I will prove totally and utterly to my beloved that she comes first before football. So she won’t be so begrudging at handing out the day passes in the future!

Wifey: “Can’t you just miss this one game; it’s my mother’s birthday?”
FMO: “Yes but it really is an important game darling – and I did miss all those games around our wedding, didn’t I?”
Wifey: “Oh, that’s true. OK, fair enough then – just join us in the evening”.
FMO: “OK, but I should also warn you that it may go to extra-time and penalties. So I may be drunk as I’ll be worried about those penalties, so would have had a few for my nerves.”
Wifey: “That’s fine dear, I understand completely. Come on You Yellows!”

Well, that’s how I think it will go anyway…

I still hear you cry though “What about your mates? Are you honestly expecting them to miss a game too just for your poncy wedding?”
 Well, to ease the pain, I’ve done a little something for the day that I hope they will quite like, with the help of my second favourite CW, OUFC’s very own Chris Williams. It’s an Order of Service mocked up to look like a Matchday Programme (Sorry, ‘award-winning’ Matchday Programme). It’s got pen pictures of all the wedding party, ‘team sheets’, Bride, Groom & Best Man columns – the lot. I’ve even got a special message of congratulations from Timmy Mallett in there, which also keeps my ‘Wacaday’-loving Fiancée happy.

It’s sure to be a collectors item, and perhaps the one OUFC programme that Martin Brodetsky doesn’t have.

Truth is though, apart from the fun this little project became, it’s been a total nightmare getting the wedding organised during the season. Most things need doing at the weekend, when I want to be at the football. “We need to go to John Lewis to buy some table stands, can you come?”

“No, we’re at Hereford that day."
“We need to finalise the seating arrangements on Tues night. What time will you be home?”
“Errr… about midnight, as we are away at West Ham that night….”
Yes, I’ve been pretty rubbish with the planning, which is why I kept the last two weekends free to get up to speed.
So instead of enjoying Beano’s equaliser at Gresty Road last weekend, I was sat in a 4-hour traffic jam on the M4, trying to get to the soon-to-be-in-laws’ house to discuss the dowry. I started to panic, as we still then had to get back and print the ruddy order of services out, and write the seating plan out, and this and that and this and that….
“Don’t worry!” piped up my wife-to-be, “We still have next weekend.”
“But… I’m going to the Port Vale game next weekend!” I protested.
“Well, you might have to not go if there is still stuff to do…”
“But it’s a really important game!” came my meek response.

Damn, so I’ve used up that excuse already…

In all seriousness though, I should be here today as planned without much fuss as my Fiancée knows all the games I’ve already missed is sacrifice enough for me.

Plus she has that knowledge that I agreed to our wedding during the football season a full year ago, not knowing what the fixture list would throw up for Oxford on October 9th, 2010. I was willing to make that early call and miss a potentially important clash. As far as she is concerned, Oxford might have been playing Swindon and I’d have sacrificed the big derby for the big day.

Well, as long as she thinks that at least, that’s all that really matters…

Monday, 13 September 2010

We're Here for d'Goals!

nPower League Two
Saturday, 11th September 2010
Hereford United 0 OUFC 2

        

Having missed the Morecambe game due to my stag weekend inconveniently cutting across the football season, I very nearly also missed the trip to Hereford on Saturday due to a stag-related bout of gout disabling me in the intervening week.

I was hobbling into work all week with a stupidly swollen foot and the thought of a 7-hour return train trip to Hereford didn't really appeal as I got out of bed at 7am on Saturday morning.

But I'm a stubborn old Ox. I could have driven, a little easier than fucking about on trains - but I'd already got my train tickets in advance, hadn't I? And I'm also a tightwad who wasn't going to throw spent money down the drain!

So, I hobbled onto the tube to Paddington & hobbled onto the 08.21 which sped me and my engorged, hobbly foot through the beautiful Saturday morning solitude of the Berkshire & Oxfordshire countryside. This golden quiet was stamped out of course in an hour, when the 08.21 from Paddington became the 09.21 from Oxford - in all but name a 'football special' with a good 60-odd Oxford climbing aboard, tinnies in hand.

I'd been looking forward to this bit - a few beers with my mates on the way up there, lovely! Yet I wasn't going to risk any alcohol on this trip. Those of you that have never had gout may not appreciate how easy a decision it was to avoid alcohol today.

On arrival in Hereford then, I let the others wander into Wetherspoons but went off to do something else myself. Something that did not involve continue watching others get progressively more leathered as I sipped on my mineral water and got further and further away from being able to engage in conversation with them.

So what is there to do with 2 hours to spare in Hereford? Well, you could always visit the Mappa Mundi within the City's Cathedral, of course! So I did.
Hereford Mappa Mundi: Inaccurate & speculative.

I'm sure you are not interested, but the Hereford Mappa Mundi is the largest medieval map known to still exist. Mind you, it was pretty fucking inaccurate - they didn't even have America on it, and you should have seen some of the funny creatures they reckon exist in Africa! I know it's a bit backward up there in the sticks, but you'd have thought they'd have commissioned Phillips to do them up a new projection by now.

Hereford Cathedral: Religious.
After a delightful cuppa in the Cathedral's Cloisters Cafe, I hobbled along to the game and for my first visit to the dilapidated Edgar Street. Terrible ground to be honest, but I'd still rather be stood on the bottom tier of the rickety side terrace, fearing that those above are about to come crashing through the cracked concrete roof, than be at a soulless plastic bowl.

Mind you, the view was fucking shit.

If you stood too far back, you could see very little of the pitch due to the huge pillars supporting the upper tier. Yet standing in front of them, my view of the far goal was obscured by the top of the overflow gate leading onto the pitch. So for the first half, when Oxford were on the attack myself and those around me looked like a mob of Meerkats bobbing up and down and side-to-side with the flow of the game.

Edgar Street: A bit shit.
Apart from a few early scares, we hardly looked troubled on the pitch - Hereford didn't appear to have very much about them and I'd be surprised if they didn't end up in the bottom 5 or so this season at best.

Difficult then to really know how to judge our performance, as we will play better sides, but all we could do was win on the day and we did that with talent to spare. If Constable had been a bit more selfish in the last 20 mins, he'd have had his 2nd League hat-trick and we'd have stuck 4 or 5 past them.

Craddock's goal that wrapped it up was a finish that would not have looked out of place in a Premiership game - as long as he pulls his weight his signing could end up being one hell of a coup for Wilder.

So, all Oxford fans left the ground very happy and despite my gouty foot and the five bastard hours it took me to get home on the most ridiculously ponderous train I'd ever been on, it was a good day out.

Percy & Thomas in no rush to leave Hereford.
I'm getting married in 4 weeks' time. Which means I won't be at the next few games as have wedding planning stuff to attend to (which should have been done earlier in the summer when there was no football, i grant you!).

As such there may something of an intermission on this blog until I'm back as a married man to watch the bleak winter months & the assault on the title.

So see you then!

Up The U's!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Who Calls The Shots?





Tuesday, 31st August 2010
Johnstone's Pain Trophy, 1st Round
Aldershot Town 2 OUFC 0

Well first of all, I don't like the sky-blue kit either. Last night was the first time I'd seen it and I rather wish I hadn't. Bleurgh. Why anyway, were we wearing sky-blue when we clearly could have worn our (mostly blue &)Yellow home kit?

Anyway.

I had decided I might go to this game some time ago, but a call from my soon-to-be best man the day before to say he'd probably take in this game on his way home made it a trip I thought worthwhile.

Coming from London, It was a 45min train ride out to the Army Town of Aldershot for me. Bit of a craphole, is Aldershot. I don't think that even the residents of this grotty little town would deny that to be a fair shout.

Upon arrival at Aldershot station, you are greeted by a wonderful reminder of the town's Armed Forces heritage - a Tank mounted on a roundabout. As you proceed towards The Recreation Ground, at times you wish you could have commandeered it for the journey.

I met my friend in the pub at the top of the hill near the entrance to the away turnstiles - La Fontaine. Not as the name would suggest an upmarket French wine bar, but a shabby estate pub. I think you'll get the gist of what sort of place it was by telling you that every adult male in the pub seemed to have a Pit Bull.

La Fontaine Pub in Sunny Aldershot
Not that I'm some la-di-da London ponce who doesn't like these sort of places - on the contrary I had a lovely couple of pints in there chatting to the locals and petting their specially-bred fighting dogs in the glorious August evening sunshine.

Getting into Aldershot's away terrace is one of the more convoluted ways of entering a football ground. If approaching the main entrance of the ground expecting to get in there, you need to factor in another 15mins to get to the away terrace. You have to cross under a railway bridge, walk half a mile up a hill, crossing back over the top of the rail tracks and back down the hill through a park. It's silly.

I quite like the ground though - it's a ramshackle shitbox of a place, with nothing at one end of the goal (imagine!) and a corrugated-iron roof cow-shed at the other end, along with lots of moss-covered crumbling terraces in between. The cobbled-together feel of the place reminds very much of The Manor, had The Manor survived a nuclear fallout and the destruction of mankind centuries previous.

View of the Cow-Shed from the Away Side-Terrace.
On the pitch, Aldershot deserved the win. Very few wearing sky-blue on the night can come out of the evening with very much credit - except perhaps Potter who did seem to run his socks off and get barged about mercilessly by the rowdy rough-and-tumble Aldershot boys.

To be honest it was one of those evenings where I spent most of the game chatting away and not really paying attention - saying either something about the quality of the football or my attention span. Or both.

JPT: Tinpot.
So, we are out of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy at the first hurdle without so much as a whimper. Pfft, who cares right?

Well, it may be a relatively pointless trophy, but with an ever-growing squad the chance for the fringe players to get some 1st team action is always a bonus, so it would have been nice to carry on in this Trophy.

Plus, I bet Aldershot draw Scumdon in the next round.

What concerns me though was that again we looked outclassed in most areas of the pitch by another League Two side.

No need to panic just yet, though...

Whilst waiting on the platform for my train back to London last night, I was approached by a fellow Yellow who shook my hand and told me he really enjoyed my blog. What a nice man. It's nice to be appreciated, and I do try my very best after all.

Next up, Morecambe, who finished 4th last time out and are clearly also a decent side. I'll be missing this one and the debut of young Mr Craddock though, as I shall be off on my stag to deepest darkest Snowdonia. So there will be no report up here of our historic first win back in the Football League next week!

I may be tempted though to take in Porthmadog v. Rhyl on Saturday and bore you with that next week instead...

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Dr Livingstone, I Presume?

Saturday, 28th August 2010.
nPower League Two
OUFC 0 Accrington Stanley 0

Ian Rush said, if I didn't win the Milk Cup, I'd only be good enough to play Accrington Stanley. Or something like that, anyway.

So, you wait five decades to play a side, passing them in and out of the league both ways in the process in a bizarre, coincidental fashion. Then when you do meet, you nearly die of boredom.

So was the remarkable saga of Oxford & Accrington, the ghosts of 1962 for them and 2006 for Oxford, put to rest on Saturday by this first ever meeting between the two sides.

Far from the world collapsing in on itself, we instead were treated to a snooze draw of biblical-proportions of shiteness. Oxford, in fairness will probably consider themselves the luckier of the two teams to have come away with a point - Accrington looked a decent side who passed the ball around very well at times, something we couldn't match over the 90 mins.

The scary thing about Accrington looking half-decent was that this is substantially the same team that finished a mediocre 15th last year in League Two.

Having first been impressed by Bury's footballing side and then assured ourselves a draw at Wycombe was a good one against title contenders, there comes a time when we might have to admit that this League may be a bigger step up than we might like to have thought it was...

In the Conference, you can comfortably look to 10-15 games a season that Oxford would expect to win without breaking too much of a sweat. Teams that are basically shit - cloggers with no ability, no tactics and no brains. I don't think you can say the same in League Two. The sides all seem to be passing it around nicely, and at a pace that we are not used to.

This should not be as much of a worry as it seems though, considering we have for the most matched all we've played. For me, Saturday was the exception as I thought Accrington looked better than us. OK, they weren't exactly on fire and our back line did their job (Wright especially, who was a rock).

Yet I was astounded to hear a couple of callers on Radio Oxford after the game say Accrington came to 'park the bus' and 'stop us from playing'. They were watching a different game to me then, as I thought Accrington over-ran us in midfield, were first to every 2nd ball and gave Oxford no time on the ball to settle. They also swept the ball across the park quite beautifully at times, making Oxford look quite ordinary.

We are allowed a shit performance now and then, and hey - we didn't lose.

The longer we go without that first league win though the more nervy our performances may become, so we have to get back to playing decent stuff on the grass and learn to cope with the change of gear.

Most important of all, the players need to put in a shift and adjust to the fact that week-in, week-out, we'll be playing FOOTBALLING teams this season - not a bunch of part-time, hoof-ball bandits. And frankly, I thank the lord for that.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Upton No Good





Tuesday, 24th August 2010
Carling Cup, 2nd Round
West Ham Utd 1 OUFC 0

I know that for many of the 3,800 or so that were there last night, a game against a Premiership side will probably be the highlight of their season. Not for me - I was truthfully more excited about Accrington on Saturday.

I've always treated these away cup ties at 'big clubs' as something of a light relief from the season proper rather than something to get terribly worked up about. A game like this is the equivalent of the porter scene in Macbeth; a slapstick bit of frivolity to lighten up the otherwise important and serious business of the campaign.

As such, I'm not particularly gutted about Scott Parker's undeserved 93rd minute winner last night. Probably more gutted than I would be had we not played so well and deserved at least another 30 mins at them, but that's football.

For me this was as close as I'm likely to get to a home game. Living in Central London, my train home from work in deepest, darkest Kent allowing me to stop off en-route at the new Stratford International station amidst the Olympic building site. A short bus-hop from there and I alighted at the wonderful Green Street - not as i expected it to be, full of American-accented faux-hooligans but actually a particularly vibrant corner of Pakistani culture in London.

Although I had been hoping to sample some of the wares of Duncan's Pie, Eels & Mash shop, this had closed by the time I got there so instead it was to Himalaya's canteen-style Restaurant & Takeaway for a plate of curry. Yum. They will win no prizes for appearance at this place, but who cares when the food tastes this good or authentic.

So, as I gazed from my window seat inside at the cooks selling samosas and pakoras to the local populace outside, I reflected that this was not the start to a typical football away day.

A man in a very old West Ham shirt came in and greeted the Restaurant owner, who asked him "who are they playing today?"

The 'appy 'ammer replied "It's a cup game against Oxford, who are a very lowly side - as low as you can get! So we should win tonight."

I was too busy wolfing down my curry to bother interjecting that you can certainly get lower than League Two - something I could articulate at length about if he had wished me to recount our last four years. I was also pleased at his arrogance and only hoped the 1st XI Avram Grant picked were equally dismissive of Oxford. It could be their comeuppance.

Wiping down my spice-soaked face, I decanted myself from this wonderful little place and walked amongst the locals and their sari shops & spice markets for a few hundred feet before the crowd turned into a football one as I passed Upton Park tube with a sea of yellow emerging from within.

One thing I always love about 'big games' is the feeling of being part of something as you walk down the cordoned-off roads in the vicinity of the ground with the throngs all heading in the same direction. Streets lined with burger vans, programme vendors and scarf & badge fly-pitchers. Haven't we missed the opportunity to experience that since we dropped out of the league?

I've been to The Boleyn Ground before, but I'm always amazed at how gaudy those Legoland castle turrets look in front of their main stand. Why not go the whole hog and get some mock-Tudor beams and stone cladding alongside it? Jesus.


So, the match itself then,* and how can you fault either the team or the fans on the night? Official away crowd not yet in, but the steward near us said we had close to 4,000 on the night and would be by far the biggest away following there this season (mainly due to them only giving 2,900 away in the League of course!).

Tremendous support Oxford.

We battled our hearts out on the pitch too of course. Beano looked knackered in that 2nd half, having run around like an enraged bluebottle on his own upfront all night. I was surprised, rose-tinted glasses accepted, to see that West Ham apparently had 65% of possession on the night - I thought we held the ball quite well and seemed to have a good stretch in charge in the 2nd half. It's always nice to hear some olés when you are playing against a Premiership side!

There was much consternation around me that those heading back to The Shire would likely miss their last train as it was heading into extra time. No such worries for me, but on 89 mins I did draft a text to MrsOx to say I'd be home later than expected. What a foolish thing to do, it was bound to enrage the Football God's wrath and teach me a lesson that nothing is ever predictable in football, as Parker (the only player for West Ham that perhaps emerged with any credit on the night) slotted home with 10 seconds to go.

Having experienced the nightmare collapse at Kenilworth Road in February though, this didn't particularly sting for very long.

Still early in the season, but we've already proved we can play football, proved we can mix it with teams at higher levels and proved we can score goals for fun when we are in gear.

Now it's time to pick up some points.

Saturday is a big one. I can't wait.


*You will notice that my 'match reports' are becoming less about the game but more the matchday experience around the football itself. I'd suggest you read Chris Williams reports first so you actually know what's happened in the game. This blog should expand your horizons a bit beyond that though. Maybe.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Wycombe In Peace





nPower League Two
Saturday, 21st August 2010
Wycombe Wanderers 0 OUFC 0
Att 6,983

What an odd little place High Wycombe is. Going on name and location alone, you expect it to be a sort of St Albans kind of place. A bit of a well-to-do, pretty looking commuter belt town. The sort of place Phil Collins or Paul Daniels would live. Where you would most likely spend the odd afternoon enjoying a glass of Sauvignon by a riverside gastro-pub, eating over-priced sausages and devilled kidneys.

Instead, what High Wycombe actually is would best be described as St Albans having being raped viciously by Stevenage. The vestiges of the old market town in the centre is merely the presence of an old town hall in the immediate vicinity of a giant, grey steel structured Sainsbury's car park and numerous confusing and many exited roundabouts encroaching needlessly on what little is left of a pedestrianised centre.

Even the railway station seems ashamed to be associated with the town, and appears to be edging out of the town by running up a hill away from the centre. Having spent an afternoon in the town, I can hardly blame it.

I arrived with a couple of London-based chums early for this one, as it was meant to be an informal stag do of sorts. Probably a large mistake, in hindsight. After a brief pint in town in a lovely beer garden doubling up as a car park, with scenic views of the aforementioned Sainsbury's car park, we decided to admit defeat in pretending we were above our base instincts and go and look at some bare-naked ladies in The White Horse.

Thankfully for the fate of our misguided souls, it was rammed full of naturist-lovers so we instead ended up having a few quieter ones in the pub right next door. I can't remember what it was called, but an apt name might have been 'The Overflow Arms' perhaps.

I've always thought it was an odd little ground, Adams Park. Positioned at the dead-end of a long residential road that turns into a mini-industrial estate, the ground itself looks like a leisure centre from the outside and is framed on three sides by tree-lined hillsides.

Yet inside, it's more like a morgue. Wycombe must have some of the quietest fans in the Football League and considering this game, for them at least is meant to have a 'derby' feel to it, some of the most apathetic fans too.

I know us Oxford fans often decry the fact that we are rivals, but this is still a very local game - it is a derby. It can be a derby without necessarily being a rivalry. As such, and with the promise of 2,300 away supporters turning up, it's a pretty poor effort on Wycombe's part to not even get close to filling their ground.

On the pitch, very much a game of two-halves - They overran us in the middle of the park in the 1st half and I was wondering if we'd be able to hang on for another 45mins without being ripped apart. 2nd half though, we were all over them and can probably be thinking ourselves the more unlucky not to have won the game with the chances we had. Finishing again, coming back to haunt us.

Wycombe will surely be up there at the end of the season though, and a point at their place in the context is a good point. that first League win must come soon though for psychological reasons if nothing else.

Looks all set then for Accrington next week - given the historical baggage between the two teams, it would be quite apt.