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Rovers Return

20 January 2016

U's against Blackburn brings back memories of perhaps the club's greatest FA Cup moment

Oxford United meet Blackburn Rovers in the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday 30th January, bringing back memories of the day that the U’s grabbed national headlines with their greatest moment in the FA Cup.

The two sides met at the Manor on 15th February 1964. Blackburn were second in the First Division at the time, while the U’s were in 11th place in Division Four and few people gave Oxford a chance of progressing. A new ground record was set as 21,700 crammed into the ground, which had its terraces extended to cope with the larger-than-usual crowd.

Two goals from leading scorer Tony Jones and another from Bill Calder were enough for Oxford to beat their illustrious opponents, who could manage just one in reply as United made history by becoming the first Fourth Division side to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. They were beaten 2-1 by Preston North End in the next round but that day was the moment that the U’s made history.

Skipper Ron Atkinson recalls: “I looked at (Blackburn's) Fred Pickering and said to the lads ‘they don’t fancy this much’. We got in among them and it was a great day. I didn’t think we’d do anything other than beat them.”

Teammate John Shuker said: “That was my most memorably game for Oxford. It was incredible. I don’t think Blackburn were that good when we played them and I don’t think they were very happy coming to the Manor because we’d had some good results there.”

Oxford fan Dave Nash reveals his memory of the game:

“The build-up was incredible. Ticket queues snaked from very early morning along London Road and into Beech Road for this all ticket game. 

“Blackburn had just thrashed West Ham 8-2 at Upton Park. They were a team of internationals, including Bryan Douglas, Keith Newton, Mike England and Ronnie Clayton, while Fred Pickering was the leading scorer in the country. 

“Fourth Division Oxford literally swamped Blackburn with amazing attacking play directed by the Tank, Ron Atkinson (from right half), with outstanding fast, direct wing play from Peter Knight and Colin Harrington. Bill Calder and Tony Jones (2) scored in an emphatic 3-1 victory while the immaculate Maurice Kyle had Pickering in his pocket. 

“I was on a rocking, noisy London Road and it was a day I have never forgotten. I can remember the crowd spilling on to the hallowed turf at the final whistle and carrying some of the players off shoulder high.”

That game whets the appetite for what should be another fantastic FA Cup afternoon. The U’s once again caught the headlines by beating Premier League Swansea in the last round and the match has extra spice: United boss Michael Appleton is a former Rovers Manager while his right hand man Derek Fazackerley is an Ewood Park legend, playing 671 times for the club over 18 years. 

It’s a match to savour and tickets are already selling fast. There is a magic about the FA Cup so come and be part of it. Call 01865 337533 or visit www.oufctickets.co.uk to get behind Oxford United as they look to repeat the exploits of the boys of 64…

 

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