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Tuesday 15th May 2012 ko 6.30pm

Oxon Senior League Premier Division

MANSFIELD ROAD 1 (McGillycuddy 64)

MARSTON SAINTS 2 (Payne 5 Hallatt 12)

Att 46 (h/c)

Played at Boults Lane, Old Marston, Oxford (Marston Saints FC)

Entry FREE

Nothing for Sale

If you’ve visited Oxford City FC then you’ve been within a couple of hundred yards of this place. Just opposite the main entrance to Court Place Farm is a small grassed area that used to be the home of Headley Hawks cycle speedway team. It’s now used for children’s football but beyond the hedge at the back is the sports field that is home to this small club.

If you want to drive there, it’s a good mile away, through Old Marston, a suburb of Oxford that to all intents and purposes is still a village, seemingly untouched by urbanisation. The village played an important part in the English Civil War. While the Royalist forces were besieged in the city, used by King Charles I as his capital, the Parliamentary forces under Sir Thomas Fairfax had quarters in Marston, and used the church tower as a lookout post for viewing the enemy’s artillery positions in what is now the University Parks. Oliver Cromwell visited Fairfax at what is now known as “Cromwell House” at 17 Mill Lane, and the Treaty for the Surrender of Oxford was signed there in 1646.

Boults Lane is the kind of place you wouldn’t know existed unless you’d been there. The ground is tucked away at the back of the cul-de-sac, and shares the limited space with the HQ of the 43rd Oxford Scout Troop. My last visit was over 25 years ago for a First Aid badge! The huge John Radcliffe hospital provides a striking backdrop to the whole area.

Mansfield Road have their roots as the Oxford University College Servants club. Their ground has the most wonderful 4-storey clubhouse/hotel/gym/restaurant, with a glass roof. It’s adjacent to New Collage and Balliol’s grounds, so its worth checking if there’s an Oxford University Middle Common Room game on a Saturday morning, then strolling over for the afternoon game. It’s also a complete pain to park, use the Park & Ride to St Giles. Don’t try what I did, park at the Faculty of International Relations, and when someone whinged suggest that they negotiate with me! With the Mansfield Road ground now devoted to cricket, this tie was switched, and I noted that the OSL Mitoo page managed to misspell “Boults!”

The game had something riding on it too, with Saints needing a point to avoid relegation. They made a remarkably quick start too, with two decent finishes in 12 minutes. With Manny forced into using their one substitute early, then watching centre half Simon Dickie pull his hamstring, forcing him to swap places with keeper Stuart Whigham I wondered how many Marston would get! Its didn’t happen as Marston eased off, and allowed Manny back in, and when Louis McGillycuddy’s excellent snap-shot reduced the arrears, there were palpable and completely unnecessary nerves, but Manny’s renaissance was short-lived and so Marston can breathe more easily. Mind you, this is the OSL so anything can happen at the AGM!