Oxford United were honoured to be invited to send representatives to the unveiling of a Blue Plaque on the wall of the Britannia Inn in Headington this afternoon, to mark the founding of the football club.
The ceremony took place 126 years to the day after Doctor Robert Hitchings convened the meeting at which Headington FC were formed. Following a speech by the club’s official historian, Martin Brodetsky, in which he described the early history of the football club, director Zaki Nuseibeh performed the official unveiling of the plaque before an invited crowd of around 40 people.
The 16-inch circular plaque is on the wall of the pub facing the London Road, and reads: 'Oxford United Football Club, founded here as Headington FC, 27th October 1893. The former Manor Ground opposite was its home 1925 – 2001'.
Zaki told us:
“It is nice to see the origins of the football club honoured in this way and we’d like to thank Oxvox for their help in making it happen. We are Oxford United but still very proud of our Headington heritage and our roots at the old Manor Ground.”
The installation of the Blue Plaque was a project initiated by the Oxford United Supporters Trust, OxVox. Due to the Brittania being a Grade II listed building, the plaque needed special permission, which was forthcoming in the summer.
Headington FC was the brainchild of Dr Hitchings, the captain of Headington United Cricket Club, who wanted a sport that the cricketers could play during the winter months ‘for the welfare of the young men of the Parish’. The first President of the club was the Reverend John Scott-Tucker, who was also the team’s first recorded goalscorer. At that time, the population of the village was a little over 3,000.
Initially competing in local junior leagues, Headington won their first silverware in 1899, beating St Mary Magdalen in the Oxford City Junior League final, and repeated the feat the following season against the same opposition. In 1900 the club also started playing at the Britannia Field,
which occupied the northern end of what is now Lime Walk, which was built in 1914. They played there until 1909.
In 1911 Headington FC merged with Headington Quarry to become Headington United and in 1921 the club joined the Oxfordshire Senior League. In 1925 Headington moved to the Manor Ground, directly opposite the Britannia Inn, which was to be their home until moving to the Kassam Stadium in 2001.
The village of Headington was incorporated into the city of Oxford in 1929, at which time the district received street lighting and a telephone exchange. The football club joined the Spartan League in 1947 and then took the step to become a professional outfit when it was admitted to the Southern League two years later.
In 1960 permission was received to change the team’s name to Oxford United and in 1962 the side was elected to the Football League, in place of Accrington Stanley.