We take a trip down memory lane and turn the clock back five years to remember a Bank Holiday fixture from our first season in the Conference.
This time last week, more than 2000 Oxford fans made their way westwards to witness an historic victory at the home of our biggest rivals. This time five years ago, however, more than 2000 Oxford fans visited the West Country to take on a rather different kind of opponent. Early in our first Conference season, we headed down to the coast for a sunny Bank Holiday weekend, but more importantly for an early meeting of the league's pace-setters. Oxford and Weymouth were the only sides in the division with a 100% record still intact and Jim Smith's men were riding high after demolishing Northwich by five goals to one in our previous match.
The match itself was an edgy and nervous affair and, as was to become typical of most of the matches we would witness in the Conference, lacked any real quality. 85 minutes passed with neither side creating an opportunity of note, but Gavin Johnson was the man to finally break the deadlock with just minutes to spare – unfortunately not for Oxford. His attempt at a headed backpass to Billy Turley left the keeper in no-man's-land and the ball comically looped into the empty net to put the home side 1-0 up. Fortunately for Oxford, substitute Chris Hargreaves popped up in injury time to slot the ball past the mass of Weymouth defenders and salvage a point to keep Oxford top of the league, temporarily at least.
Five years ago, Oxford were entering the lowest ebb of a 20-year-long trough , while Weymouth were riding the crest of a wave at the highest level in their history. Since then, these two clubs have each returned back to where they arrived in the Conference from, now separated by three divisions. Remarkably for Weymouth, there were over 5000 people in attendance that day; now, they face the likes of Oxford City in the Southern League, with an average crowd of just 500. A quick look back to those days is a healthy thing, especially in light of yesterday's rubbish performance against Aldershot. Things don't look so bad now, do they!