OXFORDSHIRE BLUE PLAQUES SCHEME

OXFORD UNITED FOOTBALL CLUB

Founded as Headington Football Club on 27 October 1893

Britannia Inn, Lime Walk/London Road, Headington

Oxford United was founded as Headington Football Club at the Britannia Inn on 27 October 1893 in a meeting called by a local doctor, Robert Hitchings, as a way for the cricketers of Headington Cricket Club to maintain their fitness during the winter break. His fellow founder was the Revd John Scott-Tucker, vicar at St. Andrew's Church, who was appointed first president of the club. After playing local teams and then entering the Southern League where they were consistent winners, Headington United became part-time professionals in 1949.

Britannia Inn

They changed their name to Oxford United in 1960 to raise their national profile. In 1962 they were elected to the 4th Division of the Football League, becoming full-time professionals at that time. They reached the 2nd Division in 1968 and then fell back to the 3rd in 1976. By 1982 the club was close to bankruptcy but was rescued by the publisher and businessman Robert Maxwell. The next few years are considered a Golden Age as they were promoted to the 1st Division in 1985 and in 1986 at the summit of their achievement they won the League Cup at Wembley by beating QPR. Fortunes have been variable since then, including a period of relegation to the Conference (2006–2010). After Maxwell’s death in 1991, the club had passed into the hands of the receivers. In 1999, after two transient owners, Firoz Kassam bought the club and took over its debts. The present owner is Sumrith Thanakarnjanasuth.

After the club’s foundation in 1893 the Britannia, an old coaching inn dating from 1770, continued to play a part in its history. Regular meetings and dinners were held there and the Britannia Field, attached to the inn, was for some years where they played. From 1925 to 2001 the Manor Ground just across the London Road from the Britannia was the team’s permanent home. The club had a huge impact on Headington residents and on the London Road on match days for three-quarters of a century. A new stadium approved by Oxford City Council for a new site at Minchery Farm had been on hold for some years awaiting finance. It was finally completed under Kassam’s direction and named the Kassam Stadium. The club moved to its new home there at Grenoble Road in 2001. The Manor Ground was sold by Kassam to the Nuffield Nursing Trust and is now the Manor Hospital.

Oxford United has a large and devoted following. OxVox, the independent Oxford United Supporters Trust formed in 2002, made the proposal for the Blue Plaque. In 2013 they successfully registered the Kassam stadium as an asset of community value under the Localism Act, ensuring that the fans can have a say in the future of the stadium and the club.

Sources (with more detail):

The plaque was unveiled at the Britannia Inn on 27 October 2019. The speakers were Martin Brodetsky, the club historian, and Zaki Nuseibah, Vice-Chairman of Oxford United FC. Among those attending were Cll Craig Simmons, Lord Mayor of Oxford, Oxford United FC representatives, fans, and local residents.

Pictures taken at the unveiling ceremony:

Oxford Mail, 27 October 2019: “Oxford United ‘village’ roots immortalised with blue plaque”

Picture awaited

Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board

OXFORD UNITED
Football Club

Founded here as
HEADINGTON FC
27th October 1893

The former / Manor Ground
opposite was its home / 1925–2001

OxVox – The Oxford United Supporters Trust

© Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board

 

Email: oxfordshireblueplaques@gmail.com