The Green Eyed Monster

I went to the new Indian Restaurant in the cinema complex before yesterday’s game with a couple of mates.  It’s an eat as much as you like style affair, good value and good food I thought.  One of my mates (@YellowTim on twitter) made an observation around how if you were cooking a curry at home and filled your plate with, say curry, some rice and a vegetable side; and after finishing eating that, you wouldn’t go back in the kitchen and cook another one for a second plate.  However in a situation where you can eat as much as is physically possible and there’s no additional cost in effort or price then the 2nd or even 3rd plate is inevitable.  The reasons we do this are obvious, but at the heart of it is one of the seven deadly sins; greed.

Greed is a good quality for a football team to have.  The motivation, not just to settle for what they have but to drive on for more with single-minded determination.  This is a quality we see in our own team at the moment.  While yesterday we were not able to get all three points, we certainly saw a good performance from a team that did not give up.  The game ended 1-1 with Craddock scoring the equalising goal.  There were some neat passages of play and on another day, against a different defence Oxford could have won by a large margin.  A point though seemed ok, especially in light of the brilliant Clarkey saving a penalty for us.  The greed, it seems is instilled in every member of the team when they are called upon to play their part.

Attendances at home, and the atmosphere especially, continues to improve; we sang  throughout the match and the quiet patches were fewer than the noisy parts.  The support is better, not only in the songs but the general support and willing-on of the players.  The ascending noise levels are both a precursor, and reaction to, performance on the pitch, each one fuelling the other.  Additional fuel was thrown on the flames by some cheerleaders.  Contemplating this has led me to reconsider the definition of what a cheerleader is.  Say the word “cheerleader” and I normally think of American sport, pom-poms and glamorous girls, but the literal translation of the term is the leader of cheers.

A cheerleader from yesterday's game (somewhere else)

The cheerleaders we had yesterday were the best to ever visit our home, they had a good routine that involved lifts and stuff and with their up-beat music and demeanour they got a good reaction from the crowd which, I think, carried itself into the match.  I for one enjoyed their display, and if nothing else gave me the legitimate opportunity to do a google image search for cheerleader.  The one guy in the squad got a predictable reaction from the Oxford Mail stand, but this was borne I think out of jealousy, another of the deadly sins.  While he must get a lot of grief for what he does, it’s easy to see what he gets out of it, and, on balance, the grief is probably worth it. 

Speaking of grief and strife, I have just been given clearance by my Wife to go to Southend on Tuesday night if I want to.  The sensible thing would be not too,  I would have to leave work early at a particularly busy time and I don’t deal well with late nights.  The problem is I’m loving my football now, I go because I love it (not just out of routine – which is what a lot of us were doing for a long time) and when all is said and done, I’m just a bit greedy.  See you all at Southend (probably)!

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Cobblers ‘n Shrews, Pink Ox in the News

Life on the field for the mighty Yellows continues to improve. Since last writing the U’s have played away at Northampton and at home to Shrewsbury.

In the former, a capacity away crowd of 1.6 thousand fans roared their team on. Oxford were the better side on balance and were undeservedly beaten 2-1. Northampton rival Wycombe for the worse home support I have ever witnessed. Their mascot (a dragon called Clarence I think) is lethal with the ball when it comes to taking out linesmen (sorry lines-people, I came over all Andy Gray there) but is woeful with a drum stick. He could be seen travelling from stand to stand attempting to, literally, drum up support with embarrassingly little response.

In somewhat surreal circumstances after that game I went to a wedding reception at MK Don’s Stadium. I’m looking forward to the day when we play them. I’m told by a supporter of the team that the problem they consistently have is that the away fans are neatly packed into a small area conducive to singing loudly while the home fans are dispersed widely in a stadium that is clearly too big for their numbers of support. The result is that their team rarely get any kind of home advantage from their own support. I would love to see how many fans we took there and the sort of atmosphere we could create.

Pink Ox

At home, the match against Shrewsbury was a classic. The back-story to this match was the Pink Ox. It’s been well documented (in fact, on the day the news broke about the Pink Ox, it was allegedly the 7th most popular news story on the whole BBC news website) about how vandals (artists?) painted the bronze Ox outside the stadium bright pink. The club were opportunistic in taking the initiative to raise some money for breast cancer while simultaneously getting publicity for the club. I love this kind of ‘making the best out of a bad situation’ approach. The steps the club took were reflected in the demeanour of the crowd.

An upbeat crowd, started slowly in getting behind the team, with little opposition from a quiet, yet sizable group of Shrewsbury supporters. Three great goals from ex-Shrews Hall and Constable (x2) was enough to sink the Shropshire side who in riposte had very little to show in attempts on goal apart from the heavily deflected goal they actually scored.

In other news the U’s announced a pre-season tour to the U.S. giving many Oxford fans their first chance to watch the club away from British shores. The costs and details of this are eagerly awaited by all. It could be the most glamorous “Why not make a weekend of…” I’ve ever had the pleasure of compiling…..

Cobbler, Cobbler, Mend My Shoe

OR…how to take a metaphor to such an extent, that people want to physically hurt you.

 

[How many cobbler/shoe type references can YOU (be bothered) to find in the below?]

At half time last week at Macclesfield we seemed to be on the verge of an unassailable victory.  We were stood on platform heels towering over the opposition.  However, during the course of the second half, this platform eroded and with it, the team’s confidence.  So we looked to Saturday’s match against Northampton Town, “The Cobblers”, to mend that damage.

Yellow Platforms

At half past two we started to gather in our thousands.  The match begun; and it could not have started any better for the U’s.  Constable’s clever foot work set up Elfie to take the lead.  However the joy was short lived, and any confidence we gained was damaged when a great Northampton cross was converted by McKenzie in to the back of Clarks net.

At this stage the Cobblers looked like one of the best teams to play at the Kassam this season, regularly getting behind the defence.  The midfield trio of Freeman, Hardy and Willis* looked particularly dangerous.  At this stage I honestly thought that we were not going to take all three points.

However, I did not reckon on Josh Payne’s excellent execution of a free kick just before half time.  He wrapped his boot around it and curled it round the wall, and into the bottom corner of the new (shoe) box shaped nets.

In the second half the U’s tightened their laces, and took control of the match.  When it mattered most, the team kept possession and stifled Town.  Two straight defeats had left U’s fans with heavy soles, but the win, secured by a third goal from the penalty spot by Craddock at the death, left us walking tall. 

The confidence is restored, and the well-healed yellows can now march to Bradford with the intention of restoring our away form.  Let’s hope we can give them a shoe-ing as well.

*Not actual Northampton footballers

Return of the Macc

“I don’t know how you put yourself through this every week.”

Yeah, we know how to live

That was my Wife’s comment after the game and all I could offer in response was a weak, “Well it’s not like this every week”.  Thank heavens it’s not, because losing the lead like that really hurts.  It had all started so promisingly.  The clock at the ‘hotel’ we were staying at was stuck at 3:06.  So maybe this was prophetic, when Beano’s opening goal of the day was scored at exactly that time, but was it also foretelling the outcome of the match? 

I thought so, especially when we finally doubled the score line immediately before half time (having missed so many chances to do so before then).  But then, in the second half, what happened was inexplicable.  A team that I was convinced we were going to bury scored, and our defence, that have been so key in our successes so far this season, crumbled.

 It didn’t feel as bad as Luton away last season, or how the recent Port Vale game might have felt had it not been for Craddock’s intervention.  It still hurts though.  So can I answer the question, ‘why do I put myself through it every week’?  With hindsight yes, because football’s like that;  for every game we lose like that, there will be another that we win.  It’s the ying and the yang.  You can’t have one without the other, and the contrast between the two is what makes each so pronounced.  Winning every week would just be dull (jut keep telling yourself that). 

Bring on Northampton.

Ladies and Gentleman, Boys and Girls, it’s the magnificent U’s fans in action.

There's a crock of gold at the end of every rainbow

The 12th Man at Macc