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Non League Football Under The Microscope

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Eastbourne Borough fans celebrate - August Bank Holiday Monday 2003                                Photograph by Sam Hicks

Oxford City FC

Court Place Farm Stadium, Marsh Lane, Marston, Oxford OC3 0NQ
Telephone: 01865 744493
Nickname: City
Southern League

Note Founded in 1882, City joined the Isthmian League in 1907 and, until 1950, remained the premier club in Oxfordshire until overtaken by neighbours United. For many years the club’s home was the characterful White House ground, tucked away in the back streets of the city centre. In May 1988 however the club was controversially evicted from the ground by landlords Brasenose College, who terminated the lease after the Football Club’s directors were deemed to have contravened its terms.  Photographs of the White House Ground

As a consequence all the directors resigned and City were forced to withdraw from the Isthmian league and all competitions. Thankfully – and is so often the case where football clubs are concerned – a few people were sufficiently motivated to organize a petition, signed by 14,000 people, urging the City Council to find the club a new home.

In 1990, with just £17, the club decided to enter a senior side in the South Midlands League Division One using council facilities at Cutteslowe Park, with committee members guaranteeing the cost of pitch hire, referees and kit. The following season however, facilities were deemed inadequate and the club had to move again - this time to Roman Way at Cowley where, before the League would accept the facility, members of the Club had to obtain, erect and paint a full perimeter fence.

In 1993 a site for a new stadium at Marston was finally made available. With money received from Oxford City Council and help from the Sports Council, it still required a Herculean effort to get it ready by the Isthmian League inspection deadline just eight weeks later. Against the odds the deadline was met and the ground officially opened in front of 1,800 spectators with City beating United 3-1.

The new ground, situated just off the main A40 at Marston, may lack the charm of its predecessor, but has been continually developed into a very smart, if somewhat bland, modern Non League venue. It is well appointed, with cover on three sides and a large clubhouse (with overhanging roof providing further, if distant cover) behind the near goal. New dugouts have been erected in front of the covered terrace, where before they stood in front of the main stand. The ground is reached via a long access road that passes a number of municipal pitches . There is only limited parking inside the ground itself and visitors are advised to park in the main car park a couple of hundred yards away.

It is somewhat ironic, given the work that was undertaken to get back into the Isthmian League, that the club now competes in the reconfigured Southern League, and actually spent one season back in the Spartan South Midlands League before winning the championship at the first attempt to move back up the Pyramid.

The programme hut, painted in the club’s distinctive blue and white hoops is a nice touch. DB