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?


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...