It’s been over sixteen years since I missed a game at home due to reasons that weren’t holidays, work or weddings. For Tuesday’s win against Crawley, I had to make do with Internet message boards, streaming radio, Twitter feeds and live text commentary.
It wasn’t always like this, in my university days I might get the half-time score, if I was in the house to hear it. Teletext could give me the full time score, but that was about it, unless you count half a paragraph on the game in the Sunday People. As a result, a whole generation of Oxford players are little more than vaguely recognisable names to me.
Now it’s a multi-channel experience, and that’s without any TV rights. The streaming radio is pretty familiar – gravely Oxford icon Nick Harris’ is supported by Jerome and Nathan, who are much more in the camp mould of modern BBC commentary. Harris is like the amiable dad taking his boys to the football. He tries to get involved with the banter, but fundamentally he doesn’t understand most of the jokes and target references. Let’s face it he probably doesn’t understand why players wear white boots and probably calls trainers ‘sand shoes’.
You can ‘read’ the BBC’s robotic text commentary, which I can only think is useful for people following the game at work and those suffering from autism. A typical commentary goes:
“15.03 Murray passes right footed into open play
Correction: Murray passes left footed into open play”
The discussion forums act as a useful counter balance as they are vitriolic by comparison. Most people seem to be channelling information from the radio broadcast, goals for are usually followed with: “Yes, Yes, Get In, Yes, Chappers” whereas conceded goals typically follow a “Shit, bugger, shit” pattern. What is truly baffling is when a discussion breaks out about an incident they clearly didn’t see and have virtually no insight to. On Tuesday following Jefferson Louis’ goal, one commented that ‘He’ll regret that celebration’ as though he’d pulled down his pants and shown his arse to the crowd. On TV the next day it looked pretty innocuous – the irony of shh-ing the South Stand presumably wasn’t lost on the gangling oaf.
It all sounded rather routine on Tuesday and so Saturday’s draw with Barrow probably should be seen in context of the last couple of weeks. We can’t complain at four points from the two big away days and seven since the Mansfield defeat. I have found that I’ve become more paternal towards the club when they go away. It all seems such a long way away, they put in so much effort, what happens if it’s not rewarded, how are they going to feel? I hope the big boys aren’t mean to them. Still, it sounds like they’re doing OK.