Wednesday, August 11


Not to repeat.

Not to continue to try whatever psychic channel or vibes we seem to have tuned into (The celebration of The Prodigal Son foreseen in September; the future role of York foreseen in October; A voice crying out that the soul of Oxford needed The Beast to return in February... we shouldn't meddle in forces we don't understand).

Not to continue if the flame isn't there. We're there at a rebirth in yellow: Burton-on-Trent bathed in sunshine, our colour around all four sides of the ground. We're there for a Collosseum performance against Bristol. But is the drive there, without the sense of injustice? The planets realigned at Burton. The wrongs were righted that day in May. We look round and see the world is right again. Perhaps this blog was born of that earlier rage, a howl that had to come out somewhere - and now that they've perhaps mellowed?.. well...

We can feel ourselves moving from that Beckettian injunction to eschew the uselessness of words that we wanted to live by. We try again too many times. So of course we continue, but we'll become more sporadic than before... probably more of the Occasional Pen Portraits, the odd Reading Photographs... an image for a match if we feel we've not done it before. We promised not to repeat. Better this way.

Thursday, June 10

Soundtrack to a season

We started this website to celebrate the images and feelings entwined with them that stay with us from games; but as much could be said about the songs that become inextricably linked with particular moments for whatever reason. And music is something that can catch us at unexpected moments, evoking a time on a terrace in a land long since lost.

So here's the soundtrack to the season we've just lived. Looking at it now, for someone who knew nothing of those months to stumble on this post, it's a rather motley collection. But if you were there, with us, then you'll know. And when these songs catch you unexpectedly, on the radio, on a television advert, or at a friend's, the hair will stand up on you, or you'll smile and shake your head. And you might catch someone else doing the same: and you'll know.

#1: Saturday 8th August 2009, and before every home game. Begin at the beginning. Not the most stirring or memorable song for an Oxford side to come out to, but given the season it will be linked with, we'll remember it.

#2: Saturday 5th December 2009, Ebbsfleet at home. Turned out we were more 'Livin' on a prayer' than 'half way there'...

#3: 2009/10, Most games, home and away. It was always there, lurking on our terrace, waiting to burst into life. Sometimes hopeful, sometimes chest-out cocky, sometimes defiant (the loudest rendition was at Kenilworth Road after Matt Green scored), and, finally, tearful and disbelieving. We sang it that final time in case those victory celebrations would stop being real if we stopped singing it.

#4: Tuesday 9th February 2010, Luton away/Sunday 16th May 2010 York at Wembley. The counterpoint to a hollow feeling following the final whistle at Kenilworth Road. It would haunt you on the radio, out shopping, in bars, taunting you: remember this?

We stole it back after the final whistle at Wembley.

#5: 7am, Monday 17th May, 2010, kitchens around Oxfordshire. Tears for the first time as Radio Oxford plays a montage of commentary from the play off final, backed by this song.

[All songs/videos taken from youtube. Video #3 of the London Road in full voice after the second leg of our play off semi final against Rushden courtesy of TimOUFCWalker]

Monday, June 7

Time's arrow

'And I within, who came at the wrong time - either too soon, or after it was all too late.'
- Time's Arrow

'...fuck you and fuck this stupid club…’


Dear Mr. Smith,

I’m writing to you to tell you about my son, Luke.

He is currently playing for Stalybridge Celtic in the Conference North, but I truly believe that he has the ability to play at a higher level, having played for Lincoln in the football league and York in the Conference. Luke was a trainee at Sheffield Wednesday, and I’m sure you can talk to some people there who will tell you about him, but if you were to offer him a trial, you’d see a strong central defender who will give his all for Oxford, but also knows how to play a ball.


‘…I am so proud. It's great to get the award from the lads, but to receive the supporters’ award as well is fantastic and I'd like to thank them for that. I wasn't in the team at the start of the season but was determined to do everything I could when I got my chance, and that seems to have paid off. I'll be taking the trophies home in the summer to show my family, and they will take pride of place…’


Luke is desperate to play for Oxford under you, and should he get a chance to show what he can do, you will be getting a fully-committed professional footballer. All Luke wants to do is be the best footballer he can be, and playing for a manager of your experience would enable him to do this.


‘…Fozzie has been disappointing in his attitude, which has affected why he's not involved. Lifestyle is very important for a footballer and he maybe needs to look at changing his…’


Yours sincerely,

Mr. Foster


‘…He's played for Lincoln and York and I got a letter from his dad - it's probably because he's a Sheffield lad that I took a bit of interest in him. And I spoke to Marvin Robinson, who played with him at Lincoln. He said that he crunches people - so I thought that might do us well in this league!..’

[Image credits: sand adapted from a photograph by Manfred Morgner courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons; Images of Luke Foster courtesy of Steve Daniels/Rage Online, and reproduced here with kind permission]

Saturday, May 29

Reading photographs: Release

Hope has been a recurrent theme on these pages. But hope so easily melds into expectation. It's hard to think back to August, when we realised that the hope inspired by a strong finish and the building of a convincing squad had somehow coagulated into expectation.

We realised this over the course of about an hour after Richard Brodie had scored at Minchery on a sunny day in August, and the mood on the terrace gradually turned from disappointment, to frustration, to despair. We started to realise: we had thought this was our season.

It took three minutes for the world to change.

Several times this season we've experienced that moment when you exhale so hard that it's a struggle to breathe. We did it that afternoon, and this image shows Matt Green mirroring this. Pain and pleasure in one image, as something is released from within. It's a startling image, but in fact this isn't an image of Matt Green after scoring the first of two goals - the goal scorer is behind him. Mark Creighton, 'The Beast', is locked in fierce embrace with his centre half colleague at the time. It's the sort of embrace you recognise that again shows that dual pleasure and pain: the pleasure is heightened because you realise what you only just avoided.

An unlikely goal scorer, and an unlikely reaction.

And Luke Foster: we're coming for you. What we'd written before and never published seems somehow apt at the point we find ourselves now.

There'll be some other retrospective pieces on this season over the coming weeks. Thanks for reading.

[Image credit: Steve Daniels/Rage Online, and reproduced here with kind permission]

Sunday, May 23

Turning town yellow and blue

(A season that didn't end staring at the concrete floor at Minchery, avoiding each other's glances. It ended in the dusk on Broad Street with a hand shake. It feels like we haven't just brought Oxford back into the league, we've brought a real club back to the heart of Oxfordshire.)

Monday, May 17

In our beginning was our end

8th August 2009: 16th May 2010.

[The above photo is © Lewis Outing LRPS CPAGB, and reproduced here with his kind permission. See more of his photography here:]

Sunday, May 16

Reading Photographs: Permissible transgressions

Television pictures of pitch invasions often give the lie to any claims of spontaneity. Members of the crowd toe the hoarding area impatiently, waiting for their moment. The last day of last season: Quod est demonstrandum.

The invasion at the end of the Rushden game was similarly impatient: we knew it would happen. Yet; this time... smiles on the faces. In this picture, the London Road forms a backdrop to the scene assembling in front of it. A Rushden player strides away, looking back: this is not his act. Still, you have to scrutinise for a moment to pick player from fan. The two intermingle, and any initial hesitation the players may have had is swept away in the delirium of the moment. The gestures of celebration imitate... well, which was first? We are there. We are on the pitch. We are Oxford United.

[Image credit: Steve Daniels/Rage Online, and reproduced here with kind permission]

Saturday, May 15

Saturday, May 8

Journey to our heart of darkness

'There were moments when one’s past came back to one, as it will sometimes when you have not a moment to spare to yourself; but it came in the shape of an unrestful and noisy dream...'

- Heart of Darkness

Going to the ground that day was like travelling back to seasons past, when supporters crowded the bars and clustered round the stadium. Yet, like a visit to the past, a silence seemed to lie over the area. An as-yet-empty terrace, a great silence, and impenetrable crowd of people. The air turned cold, time slowed. When the clouds occasionally parted, there was no joy in the brilliance of the sudden sunshine. The meandering groups of supporters who had stayed with us for the whole journey wandered into the gloom of over-shadowed distances, eyes cast down, avoiding the excited glances of others who had just joined us now.

You lost your way that day as you would in a desert, and batted all day long against shoulders, trying to find your way through, till you thought yourself bewitched and cut off for ever from everything you had known once – somewhere – far away – in another existence perhaps.

There were moments when one’s past came back to one, as it will sometimes when you have not a moment to spare to yourself; but it came in the shape of an unrestful and noisy dream, remembered with wonder amongst the overwhelming realities of this strange world of faces, and grey, and silence. And this stillness of life did not in the least resemble a peace. It was the stillness of an implacable force brooding over an inscrutable intention. It looked at you with a vengeful aspect. I got used to it after a while; I did not see it any more; I had no time. The game started and I had to keep guessing at our course; I had to discern the dangers that lay ahead, the signs of mistakes; I watched for a moment of inspiration to visit the players in yellow in front of me; I was learning to clap my teeth smartly before my heart flew out when a speculative shot would stray towards our goal, only to be gathered safely in. When you have to attend to things of that sort, to the mere incidents of the surface, the reality – the reality, I tell you – fades. The purpose for our journey, the inner truth, is hidden – luckily, luckily. But I felt it all the same; I felt often its mysterious stillness watching us after we’d paid the entrance fee, not to forget the heartache which makes up the rest of the price.

But what, indeed, does the price matter, if the trick is well done?

[Image credits: Image from Apocolypse Now courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons; match image courtesy of Steve Daniels/Rage Online, and reproduced here with kind permission]