Monday, 4 July 2011

Season Preview Part VI - Oxford, Redditch and St Albans

We're getting there. It's season preview part six! I think it's about time you brushed up on your knowledge of Oxford City, Redditch United and St Albans City. Well as luck would have it I've just written a little something on each of them. What a coincidence.

Oxford City

A Brief History: Oxford City were founded in 1882 and joined the Isthmian League in 1907. In 1988 they were evicted from their old White House Ground. The club was forced to resign from the Isthmian League and didn't return to senior football until 1990 when they joined the South Midlands League Division One, winning promotion in their first season. In 1993 the club moved to their current ground and rejoined the Isthmian League. The club continued to climb through the divisions of the South Midlands League during the 1990's and narrowly lost 2-1 to Arlesey Town in the FA Vase final at Wembley in 1995. Oxford spent two seasons in the Isthmian League Premier Division during the next few years. In an FA Cup run in the 1999/2000 season, the club faced Wycombe Wanderers in the first round proper. The tie ended with a second replay after a fire alarm caused Wycombe's Adams Park ground to be evacuated moments before the penalty shootout was about to begin. Oxford were eventually beaten 1-0 at Oxford United's Manor Ground in the third game. To this day it remains the only FA Cup tie to go to a second replay since the FA introduced the rule that all ties must be settled in two games. In 2005 Oxford were relegated back down to the South Midlands League, but won the title and the Premier Cup the next season to go straight back up. In the 2007/08 season the club were promoted from the Southern League South & West Division.

Ground: Oxford City play at Court Place Farm Stadium. The ground has a capacity of 2,000 plus, including a covered 250 seated stand and covered terracing.

Nickname: The club are known as The City. Not an entirely inspired or original nickname but at least it's easy to remember.

Notable Former Players: West Ham United and England legend Bobby Moore and current Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp managed Oxford City in 1979. Nottingham Forest winger Garath McCleary started his career with Oxford.

Redditch United

A Brief History: The club was founded in 1891. Their first silverware was the Worcestershire Senior Cup in 1894. In the early 1930's the club won the Worcestershire Senior Cup and Birmingham Senior Cup in successive seasons, and in the 1932/33 season the club came close to winning the league and cup double, but after winning the league title they were defeated in the Senior Cup final. Redditch didn't win the league again until 1953 and finished as runners up in the Worcestershire Senior Cup again. The league was won again 2 years later and the club lost another cup final. In the 1971/72 season Redditch lost 6-0 to Peterborough United in an FA Cup first round replay after drawing 1-1 at home. That same season the club finished 6th in the West Midlands (Regional) League and moved to the Southern League to join Division One North. Redditch won the Worcestershire Senior Cup 2 years running in 1974 and '75, and in 1976 the club won the Southern League Division One North and were promoted to the Premier Division. In 1979 the club became founder members of the Alliance Premier League, known today as the Football Conference. The club finished bottom in the first season and dropped to the Southern League Midlands Division. They finished 2nd in 1986 and went up to the Premier Division, dropping again in 1989. In 2004 Redditch won the Southern League Western Division and were promoted to the Conference North. They were relegated in 2011 and joined the Southern League Premier Division.

Ground: Redditch play at The Valley. It has a capacity of 5,000 with seating for 400.

Nickname: The Reds. Seems obvious. They play in red and it's short for Redditch. I would have thought they'd be called The Kingfishers seeing as they've got one on their crest. It's a little bit more original.

Notable Former Players: Birmingham City defender Scott Dann, who is attracting interest from top Premiership clubs including Arsenal, Liverpool and Sunderland, played 11 games and scored once for Redditch on loan from Walsall early on in his career. And the man with the most awesome name in football, Peterborough United defender Exodus Geohaghon, played for Redditch for 2 years, playing 71 games for The Reds, scoring one goal.

St Albans City

A Brief History: St Albans City was founded in 1908. In it's early years the club won the Athenian League twice in three years and were elected to the Isthmian League, which the club won in the first season. St Albans were relegated from the Isthmian League in 1973 but won 2 promotions in 3 years to reach the Isthmian League Premier Division, where in 1993 they finished as runners-up but were denied promotion to the Conference because of a diseased oak tree. I know, crazy. It was felled in 1998. In 2006 the club won Conference South play off final and were promoted to the Conference National for the first time. After flirting with relegation for most of the season, the club's fate was finally confirmed on Easter Monday when a 1-1 draw with Tamworth consigned them to the drop. They finished bottom of the table. The club struggled in the Conference South the next season, surviving relegation thanks to a 3-2 win over play off chasing Eastleigh. In 2009, building firm William Verry went into administration. The firm was owned by City's chairman at the time, John Gibson. There were fears that the club would suffer as a result and there were rumours of being bought by other firms, but nothing ever came of it and the club wasn't affected by the troubles of the building firm. In February 2011 the club was fined £7,500 and deducted 10 points for financial irregularities from alleged illegal payments to players. The club appealed but it was rejected. St Albans were relegated from the Conference South in April 2011.

Ground: St Albans City play at Clarence Park. The ground has a capacity of 4,500 including a covered seating stand and terracing.

Nickname: St Albans City are known as The Saints, or City. But not Albans.

Notable Former Players: Craig Mackail-Smith, who apparently today is set to sign for bloody Brighton of all teams, came through the youth system at St Albans, playing 45 games for the club, scoring just twice before signing for Arlesey Town. Former Bristol City goalkeeper Adriano Basso was on the books at St Albans in 2004. Colchester United defender Magnus Okuonghae played for The Saints in the 2006/07 season. And former Southampton striker Ian Dowie played for St Albans early in his career.


We're into added time now, folks! Tomorrow is the final part of the season preview, when we'll be ending with a look at Stourbridge, Swindon Supermarine and Weymouth. Don't miss it! Ciao!

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