The football season has mixed results in its opening fixtures, with all teams playing, complete with new additions and new formations, ready for the coming term. These matches mark the first competitive play since the side’s tour to China over the summer, and that preseason has set all players, old and new in good stead for the upcoming fixtures.
The Blues team played their first match of the season away against Coventry as part of their BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) Midlands 1A league, which also includes teams from the universities of Nottingham, Coventry and traditional rivals Cambridge. The side came away with a 3-2 victory, reflecting their superior play throughout the match, although Coventry are not the toughest opposition in the group, and the Oxford side will need to work hard in order to cement their claim for the title this season. As the season begins, the team have been experimenting with an interesting 5-3-2 formation shape, which marks a change from recent years, but while it is taking a little getting used to, hopefully this first win will put the team in good stead for the fixtures this term.
The second team, the Centaurs, lost 3-1 away against the Northampton 1s in their BUCS Midlands 3B league, which also includes varsity rivals Cambridge’s second team, as well as second teams from Leicester and East Anglia. Oxford’s men’s third team, the Colts, drew 2-2 at home in a derby against local rivals Oxford Brookes at the University Parks. Despite playing well, the Colts conceded a late equaliser that narrowly robbed them of their first win to kick off the season. They will face future matches in their Midlands 4D league against Coventry, Derby and Bedfordshire among others.
Joining the Blues team on their trip to Coventry, the men’s fourth team, the Broncos, suffered a 4-2 loss away in their opening fixture, but came away with some positive points to work on, with lots of new additions to the squad being fielded in the starting line-up. They will compete this year in the BUCS Midlands 6A league, which includes teams such as Nottingham 5s, Coventry 5s and Oxford Brookes 4s. Notably, these lower teams have recently been plagued with injury among their ranks, meaning that individuals are playing with teammates they have not necessarily had much experience with before. The glimpses of quality that nonetheless shine through should therefore be taken a positive sign for the future of OUAFC this season, and when players have returned from injury, the newly formed side will be back to its former strength.
The women’s sides have also started their BUCS campaign, competing in the Midlands 2A league, in a group comprised of teams from the universities of Cambridge, Leicester, Lincoln, Loughborough and Warwick. The second team, the Furies, play in the Midlands 3A league, which includes teams such as East Anglia 1s and 2s, Nottingham Trent 3s and Bedfordshire 1s.
Both men’s and women’s Blues sides will play their annual Varsity match against Cambridge in March of next year, the 135th iteration of the clash, where Oxford will be looking to avenge last year’s defeat in both the women’s and men’s matches. In college-level football, the opening round of this years Cuppers tournament will take place this week. Last year’s tournament saw New College take the trophy after a hard-fought final against Christ Church, their second cup final in three years who will be looking to avenge the loss this season. The women’s Cuppers tournament is also set to get started, after St Catz took the title last year 4-1 against a Keble/Hertford combined side. Meanwhile, all JCR football divisions are now well underway, with St Anne’s currently sitting at the top of the men’s Premier Division.