Our record against Oxford United could be better. A lot better in fact; Boro’ winning just two out of our first 15 encounters with them. Some of those defeats were heavy too. There was our 5-1 humiliation at home in 2015. Then we had a 6-2 thrashing indoors in the Football League Trophy back in August 2017. Mind you, we’re able to overlook that one because that particular competition means very little to a lot of people. But it does rather re-enforce the idea that we could really benefit from improving our fortunes against them.
The Us went up as also-rans in 2010; winning the Blue Square Premier playoffs to accompany us up to the Football League. This is despite the fact they were very clearly ready for business at the start of that term. That said, they’ve made good on their return. After five seasons of proving themselves to be relatively decent in the fourth tier, they secured promotion to League One. We’d say they’ve never really looked back. But their close shave with relegation in 2023 almost denied us the chance to renew old acquaintances.
As a club, Oxford United are dyed in the wool; long in the tooth if you will. The story goes all the way back to 1893. But it’s a story that starts out under the name of Headington. In 1911, they stuck ‘United’ on their name after absorbing (or merging with) Headington Quarry. And for much of that period you wouldn’t find them on the English footballing radar. In fact, it wasn’t until 1949 when they applied to – and then joined – the Southern League. To be fair to them, they were quick into their stride.
The Us secured their first title in 1953 and finished as runners-up in 1954 and 1960. It was in that latter of the years that we finally came to know the club as Oxford United; that decision taken in order to make it a bit easier to market the club. It obviously worked because – after two more Southern League titles – they were elected into the Football League in 1962. As it goes, they took the place of the defunct Accrington Stanley.
After gradually finding their feet, the Us were promoted to Division Three in 1965. But not before, in 1964, they became the first-ever Division Four side to reach Round Six of the FA Cup.
As they entered the 1980s, things were going slightly wrong off the pitch. They owed a fair chunk of cash to Barclays Bank and couldn’t pay it off. It looked as if they could go under. But in came a bastion of virtue and ethical business – Robert Maxwell. While he did save the Us from closure, he almost immediately had the idea of merging them with Reading to form ‘Thames Valley Royals‘.
Had it gone through, things could be very different. The Us reached the top flight in 1985, which was 23 years after they were admitted to the Football League. We only point that out because, at time of writing, Boro’ are 13 years in and have another 10 years to emulate the feat. The Us lasted for only three seasons at the highest level of the game before falling back down into Division Two. The 1990s saw them pitch nose down; relegated to the third tier in 1999.
Two years on, the Us fell into the fourth tier. And another five years later, they tumbled out of the League. It took them four seasons to regain that prized status.
How to get to Oxford United – Travel Information – Distance: 70 miles
For the trip to Oxford, we’re going to take what should be the fastest route. Be aware, however, that a more direct route can be taken across country via Hemel Hempstead should you wish. This one will take you along the M25 and onto the M40; obviously it could be a traffic hotspot and something to watch for here.
At Junction 7 of the M40, come off and turn left for the A329. You’ll reach a roundabout after around 4.3 miles. Here, you want the second exit to stay on the A329. After going past the BP garage on your left, follow the road round to the right and onto the B480.
Just under four miles later, you’ll come to a succession of roundabouts. Go left and take the first exit at the first of these for Grenoble Road. Go over the next three roundabouts, staying on Grenoble Road. The Kassam Stadium is shortly after the third of these and on your right hand side.
The club’s own car park has capacity for 2,000 cars on a first-come-first-served basis at no charge. If a big crowd is anticipated, this car park can get full very quickly as you may expect. But there is an overflow at the rear of a nearby cinema.
Services to: LONDON PADDINGTON
Oxford station is four miles from the Kassam Stadium, so you’re not going to be walking this one. You can catch bus number 5 from the station to Knights Road, which is a five-minute walk from the ground. There are other routes available too – but it might just be easier for you to see what the Us say about them.
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