No Mist Opportunities

There are times when a decision made by a referee, that no matter how bad or unjust, can actually work in your favour. Take yesterday as an example.

We were playing ok, but arguably the Macc looked like the most likely team to score. Step in Beano, who muscled himself into a good position when a player (who will only be described as “number 14” because I can’t be bothered to find out his actual name) sheared him to the ground; a cast-iron red in my book. I was chanting the usual “off, off, off”, while thinking “we don’t want him off here; a yellow would do the trick”. Why? :

• Macc would have put all 10 men behind the ball, and it would have been more difficult to break them down

• We have tried to do this twice at home already this season and failed (miserably) which would have played on minds

• Most importantly, the crowd and players united in the injustice would rally their efforts, which proved to be the case

A good period of pressure from Oxford followed, with number 14 on the receiving end of a great deal of pressure both from the fans and players. It was a chink in the armour that the players exploited brilliantly. The opening goal from Heslop sent the nine thousand strong Oxford fans into rapture.

The atmosphere should have been buzzing, but an unexpected guest turned up at the party; the fog – no NOT Dave Fogg, the land based cloud stuff. Have you ever been to a party when everything’s cool, people are enjoying themselves and suddenly the party is gate-crashed by a trouble-maker. The atmosphere immediately changes; euphoria switches to concern and agitation. Mr fog did this.

Not David Fogg

Around you everyone feared the irony. A game that so many people had made such a gargantuan effort to get on, in spite of the weather, was to be abandoned for a different type of weather. One could imagine that if the cloud of fog could be seen from above, it would be the shape of a middle digit hovering malevolently over the Kassam.

This does go to prove that we’re still not used to happy endings, our experience of the last umpteen years is still there residing – “It’s Oxford United; the worse will happen”. However, on this occasion the bad boy was not allowed to ruin the party. He realised at half time that he was an unwanted guest, so he stayed quiet enough to still be an annoyance, but not enough to ruin the party.

A second goal from the U’s saw the fans rally and optimism returned. Macc forced a goal and we finished the game edgy. However, that’s now three wins on the trot and 11th place in the league. Once again, our club overcame adversity on so many different levels, and it leaves you wondering: is this the new norm?

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Top 5 OUFC FANtastic Performances of 2010

2010 eh?  What a year! 

As is customary as one year yields to another it’s time to reflect.  In this case, I’m reflecting on the top fan performances of the year; the times when the 12th Man really got into his stride.  This is my FANtastic Performances of 2010:

5: Rushden & Diamonds (H) – Play Off Semi-Final

Only one home game gets into the top 5. This was the home leg of the play-off semi-final. We turned up in numbers and after a nervy start got behind the team and roared the roof off, especially once the goals started flying in.  The party really started once the final whistle was blown.

4: York City Play Off Final at Wembley

Maybe it’s a bit controversial to only put this at 4.  Undoubtably, this was the highlight of 2010 but in terms of fan performance Wembley didn’t allow us to make the wall of sound we would like.  We made up for it in numbers (30k +) taking more fans than either side did in the FA Cup Final.  For this reason alone, and amazing scenes you see below, this has to be in the Top 5.

I do a tiny wee in my pants every time I watch that video.

3: Wycombe (A) NPower League 2

Not many of us consider this game a local derby, but let’s say it was our first local away game since returning to the football league, and boy did we make an impression.  The game ended goal-less but in terms of fan performance there was only one team in it.  We were a wall of sound from start to finish.

2: Rushden & Diamonds (A) – Play Off Semi-Final

The first leg of the game at number 5 was at Rushden and our magnificent fans effectively made it a home game for our players.  Oxford United fan’s at their best; making a difference.

1. West Ham (A) League Cup

For anyone who went, this will live long in the memory.  Not just for the stoic performance on the pitch, but especially for the amazing performance of the fans.  Commented on even by some West Ham fans as the best away support they had ever seen at Upton Park.  Let’s let the video do the talking:

Here’s to some even more FAN-TASTIC performances in 2011.  The Yellow Army and 12th Man march on…….

Think I’ve got the order wrong or missed a game that should be in the Top 5?:

[I’m taking a short Christmas blog break for now and hopefully will be back soon in the New Year]

Download the TravelOxometer

How well-travelled are you in Oxford United terms?

What! You don’t know?  Well now you can with the TravelOxometer!

   To celebrate this blog’s first (and probably only) Christmas I’m giving away, absolutely free, the super splendiferous TravelOxometer.  That’s all very well, I hear you say, but what the heck is it?  Well, this is the sort of gap in your life that the TravelOxometer is going to fill:

  • How many miles have I travelled following the U’s?
  • How many times around the World is that?
  • What “travel-celeb” does my amount of travelling make me most like?
  • What percentage of club’s have I visited?
  • Is there a part of the country that I favour?
  • ALL of this and (not) much much more, beautifully presented in stunning detail.  This timeless wonder will become an essential partner in your OUFC travel logging.  Download now, completely free of charge, your very own piece of Oxford United wonderment that will delight you and your friends for many years to come.

Screen shot of the TravelOxometer

System requirements:

Microsoft Excel 2007 (although it will probably work on earlier versions)

Best viewed on a high number of pixels (e.g. 1440 by 900 pixels).  However, if it doesn’t fit your screen change the zoom once opened by choosing “View”, “Zoom”.

only 1.5mb in size

 

What's YOUR Regional speciality?

DOWNLOAD THE TRAVELOXOMETER BY CLICKING BELOW:
 
 
A copy for lower versions of excel is here, but I’m not sure whether everything is going to be readable:
 
I recommend you Save to your computer and then Open.  I absolutely promise it’s virus free and 100% secure.

Why not make a weekend of…Lincoln

Use the Oxford United Fixture list as a touring itinerary of our amazing country and..

Official tourist board promotional video:

Things to do and see:

  • Take advantage of the season and cut some funky yellow shapes on the ice:

http://www.visitlincolnshire.com/site/events/lincoln-on-ice-2010-p345271

Note: advanced booking required

  • Visit one of England’s finest cathedrals:

http://www.lincolncathedral.com/

  • Explore the six floors of Tattershall Hall; a rare red-brick medieval castle

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-tattershallcastle

Note: Listed as open, but check with NT nearer time due to weather conditions

  • Spook yourself silly with a Lincoln City ghost tour:

http://www.lincolnhistorywalks.co.uk/

(I was going to say, “not for those of a nervous disposition” but I forgot that you’re an Oxford fan!)

Looking for something nice to eat:

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurants-g186336-Lincoln_Lincolnshire_England.html

I want pubs near the ground:

http://awaydays-client.salgo.net/away-ground-guide.html#lincoln-city

How do I get to the ground?:

http://www.redimps.co.uk/page/SincilBankStadium/0,,10440~1060871,00.html

I want to go on the train:

http://ojp.nationalrail.co.uk/en/s/timetable/times

History and stuff:

Lincoln has a well documented, eventful and indeed engaging history. Many pages have been written explaining its origins from a Roman settlement to links with William the Conqueror and some violent Civil War sackings.

Nothing to do with Lincoln

However, I would prefer to cheapen all that by talking about Lincoln biscuits. The problem (from extensive research) is that the City itself has nothing to do with the biscuits that bear its name. Disappointing really, because I had some cock and bull story made up about some z-list celebrity who invented Lincoln biscuits while living in the town.

The town’s most famous residents are of course Lincoln Park who wrote songs such as “Numb” and “Points of authority” while playing on the swings and roundabouts of the town park that inspired the band’s name (some spell it incorrectly). Limp Bizkit have nothing to do with Lincoln, but apparently are fond of Lincoln biscuits, an association that led to the name of their band.

I won’t see U’s there, but if you’re going could you bring me back a biscuit?

Half time boos and full time cheers

Oxford United beat Barnet 2-1 yesterday, coming back from a goal down and defying weather conditions.  None of this happened on its own and credit should be given where it’s due:

  • Everyone associated with getting the match on – Effort above and beyond the call of duty
  • The team for showing true spirit,  and coming back from behind, despite negativity from the crowd

The clubs comprehensive actions to keep the game on were rewarded, and perhaps some of this never-say-die attitude rubbed off on the team.  This is what I love about our club, and something that I would say has not been there until Kelvin and all who work for him took over: the spirit to keep going, never accept mediocrity and keep pushing forward positively.  This must take a lot of motivation when there are seemingly so many who (deliberately or otherwise) irrationally criticise any aspect of the club.  One of the qualities of a good football management team is just to accept this as part of the job, puff your chest, out and get on with it.  That’s exactly what they do, but please folks, try to make it a bit easier for them?

Our team has now come from behind in the last two matches, including away to the league leaders.  There is plenty to cheer about, quit the boos and get behind the team.

Arguing The Toss

How important is winning the toss at the start of a football match? A google search reveals very little in seeking correlations between the outcome of the flip of a coin and the match result. However, I put it to you that it’s more significant than you think, especially to Oxford United, and (even more) especially at home. Let’s take a look at the options when you win the toss, you can either:

  • Choose which goal you want to shoot towards
  • Take the centre in the half of your choice

The advantages of the former are many; you can take exploit variable weather conditions (sun in eyes, prevailing wind etc.), you can ensure you are shooting towards the end your fans reside in the 2nd half (stated by players to be a real morale booster from supportive fans, and HAS to be better than shooting towards a fence), you can benefit from terrain considerations, e.g. shooting down hill in the second half when legs are more tired.

The question is therefore, what advantage does a Centre really give you. OK, you have possession from the start in one half of the match, but how often do you see goals directly resulting from what’s effectively a free kick in the middle of the pitch with all of your players behind the ball, and all of the opposition in front of you. To add insult to injury, the opposition gets a centre of their own at the start of the other half.  I propose something needs to be done to even this up and make it more fair. On winning the toss the two choices should be equal in advantage. It should really give the winning captain a decision to make that makes the process more fair.

Consider you have a Krispy Kreme doughnut and you know you need to share it with your friend. You have the slicing knife and therefore the upper hand in this situation (by the way, you really like Krispy Kreme doughnuts). You could cut yourself a massive slice, and leave your so-called ‘friend’ with a sliver that comes with the strap-line “may contain traces of doughnut”. Or, more extreme, you could use the knife to kill him and consume the whole thing to yourself (messy, but probably worth it in the long-term). If your “fairness” gene cuts in, then you may extend the spirit of human kindness and go straight down the middle. However, if the rules of this doughnut slicing were more fairly balanced, then you would be forced into a position of sharing the advantages. We all know that in this case, the rules are that YOU do the slicing, but only your friend is allowed to choose the slice. This always results in a neatly half sliced doughnut, unless you’ve got a really simple friend who you know will always choose the smaller slice.

So what can be done to make this choice more balanced, ensuring no clear advantage to either team?

  • How about, the “Centre” is taken further up the pitch?
  • Maybe your players are allowed to be wherever they want on the pitch whenever the centre is taken (so long as they are onside)?
  • How about the other team have to play the first 5 minutes with just 10 men?
  • Perhaps the other team have to play the first 5 minutes with TV funny man Russ Abbott in-goal.

You can see, I’m struggling for ideas, but surely there’s something that can be done to redress this in-balance? All of  the examples I have listed may have made you think, “well I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of that, it’ll never happen”, but, have you ever thought, “I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of a Centre” No, you haven’t. And that alone shows that it’s not a big enough deterrent or incentive as a choice when winning the toss. What captain has EVER chosen the centre of their own free will?

I’m not accepting any of this, ‘don’t go tinkering with the rules of the beautiful game’ nonsense.  I’m not having it, I want CHANGE and I DEMAND it now (although the logistics of Russ Abbot being available at every ground at 3pm on a Saturday, is admittedly challenging).

P.S. Thanks to all those who have been kind enough to ask me to continue with this blog.