The Oxford United chairman, Sumrith 'Tiger' Thanakarnjanasuth, wrote the following as his notes in the Gillingham FC match programme:
People always ask me one big question. Well, two actually, but let’s leave the stadium question out of this for once! Ever since I came to Oxford, people always want to know why I would want to be involved with a football club?
I think that Wednesday night answered all those questions.
I visited the training ground in the afternoon and then came to the ground to see the hard-working staff going through their preparations. The commercial team were hosting our corporate guests, the media team were leading Karl from interview to interview, the groundsman had done a fantastic job on the pitch, the ticket office had sold over 10,000 tickets, the kit man had laid the dressing room out with pride, and everyone, including Michael Doyle and the stadium company team, had put their heart and soul into the preparation.
Those people will not get the headlines though. The applause and the national headlines belong to Karl and the players. They deserve it all. West Ham are fifth in the Premier League and fielded a side full of internationals. Someone said, ‘they made nine changes and took it easy’. Nonsense. They brought in players like Zabaleta and Wilshere and they were determined to do their best to get through.
But on the night the best team won. Not just that, but a team with players who have come through our youth system, like Shandon Baptiste, or the local boys Sam Long and Josh Ruffels. They can rely on the experience of Jamie Mackie, who set the tone and never stopped running, the clever tricks of Rob Hall, and when needed then Simon Eastwood made two or three brilliant saves. Then there are players like Rob Dickie and Tariqe, who I have seen grow from young boys to fine young men, and players like Anthony Forde, Cameron Brannagan, Mark Sykes, Elliott Moore, Matty Taylor and the unlucky George Thorne, who we have brought to the club and who have bought into our dream for the future.
It was an extraordinary evening, one I will never forget and I am so proud of the whole club and its fans. You drive that team forward; the players all told me that your passion and your noise haves such an influence, so we did it as a whole club, together. Next time someone asks me why I want to be involved and why I have this crazy passion for football, maybe I will just start with ‘well, one night we took on West Ham…’
You can read the full programme online at www.matchdayfix.com/oufc