Monday, 31 October 2011

Leven on a Jetplane

Saturday, 29th October 2011
nPower League Two
OUFC 2 Port Vale 1

Well just what can you say about that goal? 'Sublime' doesn't even come close really, does it?  'Majestic' gives it too much humanity when it deserves to be exalted higher. 'Divine' associates it with gods who fall a little short themselves by comparison. And 'Splendiferous' is just a bit silly sounding.

Either way though, make no mistake that was the greatest goal I have ever seen scored by an Oxford player. And yes, I was there for Beauchamp's against Blackpool too. Sorry Joey, but this just edges that into 2nd place.

As some of you may have read in the rather marvellous matchday programme, I was looking at houses in the South of our fair county on Saturday morning. I nearly ended up having to miss this game in fact, due to one of the houses we really had our eye on not originally being available for viewing until 4pm.

Although I'd already missed quite enough of the season already with these house-buying shenanigans, I was still prepared to sacrifice yet another beery afternoon cheering on the U's if it helped in the long-run to make seeing them every week all the easier. But imagine at how miffed I'd have been had I missed this one?

Well, in the end, I didn't of course. Last house viewing finished at 2pm and I was jetting North to Blackbird Leys just in time to soak up a bit of pre-match atmos in a very busy East Stand.

They said that evening on Sky that it was probably 'game of the day' in League Two, and I'd be surprised if it wasn't. Vale are probably the best footballing side we've played at home so far this season and they went at us for the full 90 minutes and will probably feel aggrieved to have not come away with something out of the game. But they did come away with nothing. Ha ha ha I say.

Port Vale Away Kit: Grey.

Port Vale kicked-off proceedings in an odd fashion by appearing in a strange all-grey kit, probably in homage to their favourite wizard, Gandalf.

Well - they certainly tried to cast their spells on us with some good periods of pressure... umm, now something about Alfie 'Harry' Potter weaving some magic on the wing...all in a cauldron-like atmosphere.. la di da, yada yada yada...(all the clich├ęs about wizardry we seem to have all the time because of Potter, and you know them already and  I can't be arsed to finish them off here).

Then Duberry scored a goal. Did you see that one? He liked celebrating that one, didn't he? Well, for a man who has scored almost as many career own-goals as goals in the right end, I'd say he's allowed to go a bit doolally when he heads home a bullet like that. Was he pretending to be a charging bull, do we know?
DOOOOBS. Brilliant.
(Copyright Steve Daniels)
It was end to end stuff throughout and Clarke in goal kept us in it big time with a string of fantastic saves this game - he looked nailed on for man of the match I thought. It would surely take something special to deny him that honour, anyway.

But oh, up steps that cheeky Scot, Peter Leven. Wins the ball in his own half, takes one further touch, then BANG. Oh, the pure arrogance of the man, to even try it.

Here it is again- have a butchers again and marvel at it's majesty.
(Copyright Steve Daniels)
It's the best ever I reckon. The keeper was off his line, but not by too much. So Leven had to put a fair amount of power into this lob, as well as accuracy. That for me is why it's better than Beckham's famous effort. Plus it was clearly not speculative - he meant it so it wasn't a Nayim-style fluke. For both these reasons, I think Leven's goal was better than these other two prominent half-way line efforts I can recall.

Mind you - there was also this goal from loanee Jordan Rhodes for OUFC against Merthyr Tydfil in the FA Cup back in October 2007 (view from about 45 secs). Not halfway line, but about as far away - to be fair, that one was pretty special too. But then Rhodes did claim it was a fluke as he was actually crossing the ball. I don't believe him though.

Either way, I would say it's quite clear from the evidence presented to you today that Oxford United have scored the best two goals in the history of Association Football in the last 4 years. FACT.
Who is this ruddy-faced idiot? Unknown, but he liked Leven's goal. As did Paul Weller, bottom-left.
(Copyright: Steve Daniels)
Once I'd come down from the euphoria of celebrating that strike (a friend commented that it was one of those moments that "You end up kissing a big fat ugly man you don't even know". Well, we've all done it at some point, haven't we?), it really was a nervy last 25 mins as Vale continued to apply pressure. And then...

Penalty. Arrgh. It just wouldn't be on for Leven's strike not to be a match-winner, but looks as though we'd only have a point to show for it after all....

...but NO! Clarkey saves us again! Magnificent! What a game! I know that Leven got MotM for his superlative strike, but really it should have been Ryan's award. Lovely stuff.

And so I returned to London, celebratory Branos spicy chicken burger in hand, a very happy and buzzing man.
Celebration. Well done that man.
(Copyright Steve Daniels)
I'd just seen the greatest goal in the history of mankind. Oxford were up to 4th. I would soon be buying a house and be back in Oxfordshire. And on this coming Friday, I will literally be on that titular jet-plane off on my holidays! So it wasn't just a silly pun for the blog title. It was actually very clever.
Great times to be on OUFC fan. Great times indeed.

Up The U's!

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Turf Wars: Attack of the Biscuitmen

An articleBy Fantastic Mr Ox that appeared in the Port Vale programme 29.10.11


I haven’t been around these parts much, of late. In the whole of October, I will only have been to 3 matches in fact. That might still sound impressive to some of you part-timers, but for me it’s been hard weeks of cold turkey without my own personal opiate, a regular dose of Yellow Fever.

I’ve been trying to buy a house, mostly. There was a wedding anniversary in there as well that I’ve already bored you with, but mostly it’s been looking around houses in South Oxfordshire with smarmy estate agents. And some nice ones too, I might add.

One of these nice estate agents in fact was a big OUFC fan (well, as big as you can be having chosen a career where Saturdays will always be spent visiting houses instead of cheering on the U’s). We bonded over our mutual love of all things yellow to the point at which I nearly bought a house off him that I couldn’t afford and that my wife didn’t actually like one bit. Such is the power and draw of the Ox.

We also chatted about the most important consideration when buying a house in South Oxfordshire – what is the ratio of OUFC / Reading supporters in the village?

You may think this a rather trite and superfluous question, as did my wife, but if you have spent time living in the South Oxon/Berks borders area, you’ll probably appreciate how important this is. In fact I’m sure those of you living along the A420 border-lands have similar territory-marking issues with our red-breasted friends.

When I was 16, my parents moved to a village 3 miles outside Reading. I eventually had no choice but to join them there and although I could dip my toe into Oxfordshire by just walking across the Thames bridge in the village, I still had a nasty taste in my mouth sleeping each night on the wrong side of that bridge, surrounded by blue & white hoop-shirted buffoons all the time.

Berks-Oxon Border.
So I want to make sure that I’m not similarly cramped in by these Biscuit-loving people by mortgaging my future (literally, as it happens) to a village full of them again. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not Berkshirist, some of my very best friends are Reading fans – I just don’t want them living near me.
The village in question is equidistant between Oxford and Reading. So I’d hope for a decent split of Yellows there. And true enough, the estate agent did reveal that he himself lived in said village, and although there were some Reading fans there, there were quite a few Oxford too. Smiles all round then – let’s move in.

Well, would YOU want to live next door to these goobers?
It took some convincing of the wife that moving somewhere closer to Reading just wasn’t on. It was bad enough that one house we looked at had a Reading poster in the children’s bedroom (bless them; they are so young they don’t know any better).
I tried to persuade her the reason I didn’t like this house wasn’t because of this, but because I didn’t like the wallpaper (It was truly awful wallpaper, mind you).

But she saw through my deception easily enough.

“You just want to be with your people, don’t you?”

“Yes. Yes I do.”

Up The U’s!

My People.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

A Football Trivia Teaser!

An article By Fantastic Mr Ox which appeared in the Plymouth Argyle matchday programme, 25.10.11

Argyle? What’s all that about then? Funny old ending for a football team name, innit?

Call me a geek, but I’ve always been fascinated with how some Football Clubs got their odd team name endings.

For the record, although the history seems somewhat disputed (if like me you are only doing a quick google search to find out the origins of their name rather than really look into it); Plymouth Argyle are officially so named because the two chaps who founded the club lived together on ‘Argyll Street’. The street itself named after the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders that were stationed in Plymouth in the 1880s.

Apparently that street is now called ‘Sutherland Street’. So they might have instead been called ‘Plymouth Sutherland’ then. Perhaps in honour of Donald’s epic performance in the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. But I digress.

Back to topic – it is nice though to have a bit of variety and idiosyncrasies in the names of the teams we play, don’t you think?

This reminds me of something I remember being asking in a pub quiz as a young man (just a few years ago, as it happens). Namely, to list all the different endings there were of Premiership & Football League clubs. Although we’ve lost a couple in recent years such as Harriers and Diamonds, there are still a whopping 22 of them.

Can you Clever Trevors name them all? Don’t cheat and look below – have a little think before you read on and see how many you can get.

The rules are simple: you are looking for the last word of a team where they have more than one word to their full name (i.e. not including teams with just one word like ‘Liverpool’ or ‘Reading’).

Also the words ‘Football Club’ or ‘Association Football Club’ (such as with Sunderland or Bradford) don’t count, as all teams have them at some place or other, don’t they?

Similarly it doesn’t count in this list where an AFC appears before the main name. So don’t include ‘Wimbledon’ or ‘Bournemouth’ in your list. You have been warned. Just don’t include them. It won’t be tolerated, ok? So don’t do it.

All Clear? Good – go off and have a think – I’ll wait here.

Got them all yet? Oh ok, just a few more to go….

Still thinking? You’ll kick yourself at the ones you are missing you know…

So, times up - how did you get on?

Did you get all 22, you great big NERD? Well congratulations if so! And please revel in it - being a football nerd is no bad thing. All Football fans are at heart a little bit geeky, you know. Even the ones who look well cool in their trendy slacks and spiky hair-dos are probably still able to tell you the ground names of 95% of the football teams in the country. Saddos.

Were you missing just a couple? Well good effort – are you kicking yourself for not getting Aston Villa? That’s the one I always miss.

Did you only get 2 or 3? Then what are you doing here, reading this? Suggest you go shopping or bowling next week, this football lark just isn’t for you my friend.

For the record, the 22 answers are:
15x United (although only 1 worth caring about, of course)
12x City
10x Town
4x Rovers
3x each of Albion, Athletic, Wanderers
2x County
1x each of Alexandra, Argyle, Dons, End, Forest, Hotspur, Rangers, Redbridge, Stanley, Orient, Palace, Vale, Villa, Wednesday.

Which leaves 26 teams with no additional ending, of course. Fun that, wasn’t it?

Hope you enjoyed FMO’s trivia page this evening. Back to the normal silly stories next time I’d wager.

Up The U’s!
Still thinking...."VILLA! HOW THE HELL DID I NOT GET VILLA!!!"

Saturday, 8 October 2011


An article By Fantastic Mr Ox that originally appeared in the matchday programme v. Bristol Rovers - 8.10.11.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
These are the games you look forward to at home, are they not? The ones against the teams that always tend to bring a decent away following. The Bradfords, the AFC Wimbledons, the Bristol Rovers’ of League Two.

I’m sure many other League Two teams feel that same thing about us when our visit to their place approaches.

Ooh, Oxford – they always travel well - probably the best supporters in the Football League, I’d wager” they probably say.

“Yes, especially that fellow that does those brilliant articles in their programme – have you read them? Hilarious! And worth the cover price on it’s own in my opinion. I think he should have more than just the one page, myself would probably be what follows, I’m sure.

But today, that fellow that does those articles won’t be here to appreciate the carnival atmosphere of the big-game crowd. Yet again, I’m neglecting my duties to instead spend a weekend ‘away with the wife’ (I’m not sure why I put quote marks around that as it wasn’t a euphemism for anything else, I’m genuinely just going away for the weekend).

It’s my wedding anniversary, you see. Now hold on, hold on – before you go firing off about how much of a disgrace I am, shouldn’t get married in the football season and all that yada yada, I should point out that it’s not quite what you think.
If I’d really wanted to come today, I probably could have done. Yes, that’s right – my wife is quite nice like that, she would actually let me go to a game on my 1st wedding anniversary without a fuss. But I suggested, in the interests of being a good husband, that it might actually be nice to go away for the weekend; even if it did mean missing a home game.

Now, this act of self-sacrifice impressed my wife so much she suggested I didn’t need to miss the game – we could go away for the weekend AS WELL AS going to the game, by booking a hotel for the Saturday night.

How about that then? Brownie points earned, plus no football-free sacrifice made in the process. This being married lark is a doddle!

So I left my beloved to book a nice hotel for the Saturday night in Oxford (we live in London, you see), and looked forward to a nice meal somewhere in Jericho after the game Saturday evening, and perhaps a Sunday morning stroll across Port Meadow before returning to the big smoke. It was going to be a great weekend.
That was until I suddenly wondered a few hours later why she had asked me who we were playing. I’d not thought about it at the time, but she’d never asked me before who the opponents were when I’d gone off to a game. Oh no…she hasn’t has she? SURELY not…?

FMO: “Ummm, have you booked that hotel yet, dear?”

MrsFMO: “Yes! Just did so – had to pay upfront but got a really good deal. Oh and booked the train tickets too.”

FMO : “You booked it in Bristol, didn’t you?”

MrsFMO: “Well, yes – that’s what you said isn’t it? Bristol Rangers? I assume they are actually from Bristol?”

FMO : “Yes, yes they are….the tickets are non-refundable, you say?”

MrsFMO: “That’s right – but what’s the problem?”

FMO: *sigh* “Oh, no problem. But do you know what? Let’s just spend the day together in Bristol. I won’t actually go to the game, would rather just look round the city with you, my love.”

MrsFMO: “Really? Oh thanks darling – you really are the BEST husband ever!

And so I am. See you next time…hopefully.

Up The U’s!
Bristol City Centre: Romantic Getaway.

Clifton Suspension Bridge: Impressive work, Isambard.