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Friday 1st February 2012 ko 19.00

BUCS League Midlands Division 2A/ Varsity Challenge

OXFORD UNIVERSITY 5 (Grimer 3 Jamison 14 Beck-Friis 26 Austin 31 Healy 86)

OXFORD BROOKES UNIVERSITY 2 (Mirro 45 Dancer 69p)

Att 600

At Iffley Road Stadium

Entry £5

No Programme

Last year I ended up viewing this game from a grass bank from grass bank at the far side, due to a all-ticket strict policy.

https://laurencereade.wordpress.com/2012/02/19/cat-mouse-and-roger/

From my rather distant vantage point, it looked like a cracking atmosphere, so this year I decided to try at watch the game through more conventional means, I do have a couple of contacts within the University after all! Oxford University captain Alex Biggs put a ticket on the gate for me, and so I was able to witness the worried Oxford United stewards at first hand.

The Iffley Road stadium is famous for being where, on 6th May 1954, Sir Roger Bannister ran the first sub-four minute mile, watched amongst many others, by the world’s least sports-orientated person, my mother! Since then the stadium has become something of a victim of the Taylor report, the owners Oxford University opting to reduce the capacity of the stand to 499, to avoid the costs involved with a capacity of the greater figure.

Normally 499 is easily sufficient, but not for a fixture like this. Despite being only being its third year, this match has caught the imaginations of both the University and the former Polytechnic from up the hill in Headington. For this year sections in front of the stand were taped off, allowing an extra 200 to view the game, although students being students, a fair percentage turned up after kick-off!

The stewards encouraged the two sets of fans to occupy different ends of the stands, and the “Segregation” made for a cracking atmosphere, with some of the best banter I’ve encountered at a game. Both sides seemed happy to play on their stereotypes, the “Working Class” Brookes students singing,”Does your butler know you’re here?” and “You pay our benefits,” and the “Toff,” University students singing “You do your essays with a crayon!”

What was never in doubt was the result. When Ed Grimer beat a poorly sprung offside trap to open the scoring, it proved to be the catalyst to some poor Brookes defending as a corner was swung in from the right. The defence simply watched as Mark Jamison thumped the ball home from the back of the box unopposed. It soon got worse for the visitors as a mix-up between keeper Sam Cole and centre half Joe Sturia, allowed Peder Beck-Friis to tap home. When a though ball bisected a square Brookes defence to find Julian Austin who had the simplest of tasks to roll the ball home, a rout looked on the cards, but Hakin Mirro’s superb header from a free kick on the left, gave Brookes heart, just before half time.

In was inevitable that the game would tighten up after the break but at 4-1 the University looked comfortable, but that changed when Brookes were handed a rather soft penalty, for a shirt-pull. Captain Tom Dancer despatched the spot-kick and for 20 minutes, an unlikely comeback looked possible. That ended when Alex Biggs corner was headed home by substitute Adam Healy.

The final bit of “Entertainment” was the appearance of a Brookes streaker, apparently the same one as last year. He was easily able to evade the stewards before making his escape from the far side. The stewards weren’t beaten though, they simply confiscated his clothes, and handed them to the police, who arrested him outside the ground. I would imagine he wouldn’t have been difficult to indentify!

That makes it three wins out of three for the University, and seldom have I enjoyed a game as much as this, both in terms of the action, and the atmosphere created. I just wish it was a little easier to get a ticket!