The story of Oxford United's badge from 1949 to now
A history of the Oxford United club badge by Martin Brodetsky, official club historian
The first club badge that we know about adorned the Headington United shirt at the beginning of the 1949/50 season, when the club turned semi-professional and joined the Southern League. This badge comprised the initials HUFC above the word Oxford, over a silhouette of an ox, in red, crossing a ford, within a crest.
Two seasons later the emblem was changed to a larger crest, quartered. The top left quarter held the initials HUFC, while the adjacent segment was solid orange, the club’s main colour at that time. The bottom-left quarter was a block of blue (the colour of the shorts at that time), next to the familiar red ox crossing a ford.
This design remained Headington’s badge, although it didn’t always feature on the shirt, until 1960, when the club changed its name to Oxford United, to become more reflective of the city it served and to give it wider recognition in its bid to be elected to the Football League, an aim it achieved in 1962.
The change of name necessitated a new badge and so the club held a competition for fans to come up with the design. This was won by Mr SEV Clarke, from Headington, whose entry again featured the silhouette of a red ox crossing a ford within a crest. The border of the crest had the words Oxford United within it and this was superimposed over a large H, to remember the Headington name. However, this badge never appeared on the shirt.
Twelve years later, as the club ditched its old-gold shirts in favour of yellow, the badge was again altered, this time quite radically. The crest became circular, with Oxford United Football Club within it, surrounded a design that included a red ox head, face on. This badge did appear on the club shirt for most of the subsequent six seasons.
In 1979 anthropologist and club director Desmond Morris came up with the current iconic ox-head symbol, based on a Minoan-style bull’s head. This was deliberately simplified so that it could be copied easily, and the design’s success is proven in that it is still being used over 35 years later.
The initial version was just the head, with OUFC above it, in a blue circle, but the following season the circle was removed and the initials transposed to beneath the ox head. There were minor variations to this basic design over the years, with just the club’s centenary year of 1993/94 radically altering it, enclosing the ox head in a crest with three wavy lines beneath it to represent the ford in St Aldates from which the city takes its name. The legend ‘Centenary’ in a ribbon is below the crest.
After reverting to the simplified ox head the following season, in 1996 the crest and ford were reintroduced, although in a slightly different form to the centenary kit.
Lastly, to coincide with the move from the Manor to the Kassam in 2001, club steward Rob Alderman came up with the current design, which has been used unaltered for the past 14 seasons.
Rob told us:
“I was working as a steward at the Manor but am a graphic designer and I just thought the badge needed tying together and modernising because there were two or three versions knocking about and being used in different places. I approached the club and once I said I’d do it for free I was given the green light! I thought the ox head was very strong and knew I wanted to keep that so I added the circular part to enclose the river and then built the shield part around that.
“It’s something I am very proud of. I work for myself now as Red Flag Creative up in Manchester and I am still stewarding, but now it is at Old Trafford. I still get a buzz seeing the Oxford badge on TV or wherever and am very proud to have helped the club and been a part of its history.”