We are delighted to have a very special guest on Saturday when Denis Smith is our Guest of Honour against Doncaster Rovers.
Denis had two spells in charge of the U’s, the first starting in September 1993 and lasting 240 games with promotion in 1996 the highlight. Denis built a squad comprising some high-quality players, such as Phil Whitehead, John Byrne, Paul Moody, Matt Elliott and Phil Gilchrist, while he also inherited the likes of Joey Beauchamp, Chrissy Allen, Les Robinson and Mike Ford.
“When you’ve got players of that quality you need to keep them on board,” Denis tells me. “There was work to be done on mentality and the way they went about their business, but you knew that with John Byrne and Paul Moody you were going to score goals. You’ve got Joey Beauchamp running riot and Chrissy Allen or Stuart Massey on the other side. When you look at it, it was a good solid squad.
“In the middle we had David Smith and Martin Gray. They win the ball and give it to others, that was their job. You had fans moaning ‘All they do is win it and pass it’, well, yep, that’s what wins you games. It’s called having a team!
“Fordy and Robbo were there when I got there; I brought the two centre-backs in but they all did a great job for me. There were three in fact, because I also brought young Darren Purse in from Orient, who was only 18. He’s down with you now as a youth coach. I had Matty and Gilly at the time, but you need more than two and he was only young, plus I played three at the back sometimes.”
“I had an enjoyable time at Oxford and I’m still a football fan; I go and watch parks football and I’ll watch football wherever because I like my football. I do commentary for radio and I still work for the FA on work permits and disciplinary and I work as a match delegate, going to a couple of Premier League games a month.”
Denis will join us ahead of the game against Doncaster and we are sure you will give him a fantastic reception when he helps out with the half time draw. Read a fascinating interview with him in the Match Programme on Saturday.