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FEATURE: 101 Damnations

In our weekly feature Chris Williams forgets that 101 is quite a long list but soldiers on to the end regardless

7 April 2020

Dear fans. Here are 101 Things I Miss right now.

  1. Football
  2. Shaving Head- win guaranteed. I c.urrently look like Terry Nutkin
  3. A cup of coffee in The Woodworks Trading, Thame on Saturday morning. Mrs Williams works in Rumseys down the road so I am already 1-0 up by going elsewhere
  4. Putting on my matchday suit and tie. Part of the ritual
  5. Driving to the game with my son, excited for the match ahead
  6. The pure excitement of winning the gamble on whether the gate is open at the hotel end of the Car Park
  7. Waving good bye to my son as I go to work and he goes to the Blackbird. It is 12 o’clock
  8. Joking with the fans waiting outside the Ticket Office who are waiting for autographs and pictures. They claim they are waiting for the players but I know they are just shy and waiting for me
  9. Typing the PA Script and adding the Birthdays which have been sent overnight. Why people think this is acceptable is still beyond me
  10. The arrival of Kath Faulkner in a flurry of cameras, notes to do, and excitement
  11. The buzz in the front office as I go to fetch the printed PA script, press list and our ‘Media To Do’ checklist for the day 
  12. Stealing biscuits from Christine in the Ticket Office. Gonna miss you Christine
  13. Commercial wizard Adam Harris looking sadly at the ‘Top Ten Harrises is all time’ on the notice board in our office. He is number 9. Dan, goalkeeper Max, Iron Maiden’s Steve and Ron ‘Chopper’ are all comfortably above him. Adam carries a clipboard to make himself look busy. That’s why he is number 9
  14. Peter Rhoades-Brown giving me a Post-it with a birthday on
  15. Moving ONE sock in the changing room to annoy kitman Jonny Edmunds who is ultra fussy
  16. Talking to the Gaffer about the day ahead while he has his pre-match bath. Not sure how this became a thing but has to happen. Superstitious? Me?
  17. Giving the list of scouts to Faz so we know who is coming. In return he tells me the team and I point out his spelling mistakes on the teamsheet he is giving to the ref. Oh how he laughs
  18. The quiet ‘calm before the storm’ in the physio room
  19. Dwayne Peasah moving another sock to annoy Jonny
  20. Talking to Ambrose Landon, Yoda to my Luke, in the Press Room on the third floor
  21. Pre match briefing with Dave Pritchard, Jerome Sale and our dad Nick Harris
  22. Meeting my opposite number and showing them round
  23. Rob Dickie telling me I am doing nothing
  24. Sam Long telling me I am doing nothing
  25. Doing nothing
  26. Jamie Mackie asking if I am busy?
  27. On duty youth teamers making teas for the staff. Miss you Little Jack Stevens
  28. Pre-match interviews with BBC Oxford and the Oxford Mail
  29. Karl forgetting the last sub. Every. Single. Time.
  30. Someone pointing out a spelling mistake in the programme to Martin Brodetsky before he has had time to get his coat off
  31. Peter Rhoades-Brown giving me a Post-it with a birthday on
  32. Pete Dunnill rushing in from the tunnel with the pink sheet with the teams on
  33. FIVE of us working in perfect harmony to ensure that the printed teamsheets are 100% accurate
  34. Rushing to the front office to get the 50 printed teamsheets we need for the press and scouts
  35. Phoning round from the front office to the media office because Mick Brown has spotted a spelling mistake in the fourth official’s name
  36. ‘Rocket Ron Slater’ saying hello as we pass at the foot of the stairs
  37. Handing the team sheets round to the press in the press room as the news goes live at 2pm
  38. NOT the stairs up to the third floor. Hate them
  39. Pie roulette. Bailey Farr, Caterer extraordinaire, delivers an assortment of pies to the press area. An elaborate system of dots and crosses on the pastry tell you which is which. I have never taken the time to learn the system. If I end up with the mac and cheese pie one more time I swear I will scream
  40. Watching the fans pour in from the car park to the fast-filling stands
  41. Sitting in my seat and starting the best part of the day. ‘Good afternoon and welcome to the Match Live’ as we start coverage on the website
  42. Going pitchside to get some pictures
  43. Rosie Dodds insisting on a cuddle.
  44. A fan asking ’is it too late to add a birthday to the PA for half time?’
  45. Two very strange ladies by the dug out who always ask if I am wearing my lucky pants. Superstitious? Me?
  46. Returning to the press area on the third floor
  47. Bloody stairs
  48. Car Park Bingo. Each of us pick a colour car which will be struck first by a wayward effort at goal. Winner takes the pot. Julian Hitchman once won this by nominating his own car
  49. The famous Oxford United Tea Ladies and Gent making sure everyone is in the right seat and pouring me a cuppa in my ‘Mr Angry’ mug
  50. Seeing Kath Faulkner get soaked while tying the Goal Cam to a stanchion in a downpour
  51. The teams coming out. Starting my Match Report (still comfortably the best part of my working week unless 50 happens)
  52. Seeing the late fans doing the ‘half running but still trying to look cool’ walk to try and get in before kick off
  53. Seeing late away fans waving to their mates in the stands
  54. The famous Oxford United Tea Lady shooing people with no passes out of the press room. Nicely. 
  55. The sheer bliss of the blast of the whistle. Game face on
  56. That buzz from the fans as the game settles into its routine
  57. Football
  58. Sitting between BBC Oxford and the away team commentary team, trying to block them out so I can concentrate..
  59. Julian Hitchman (‘Mr Silly’ mug) telling me about his morning run or last night’s curry or asking whether I believe in Bigfoot, while I am trying to concentrate
  60. The sheer, unadulterated joy of being at the Kassam Stadium and being part of a game of football
  61. Making notes of the time of Marcus Browne’s first nutmeg so we can send him the video.
  62. The shimmer of light applause when the subs warm up for the first time
  63. Watching Karl on the sidelines
  64. Looking the wrong way when a goal is scored because I have been distracted by a swan or a fire engine
  65. The clack of seats as people beat the half time queues for a Bovril
  66. The swapping of notes in the press area
  67. Steve Daniels arriving to give me the photos from the first half. Me adding them to the Match Live and Gallery while Jules tells me that someone has fallen over in the half time entertainment and that maybe he will have Chinese not curry tonight
  68. Jules being my eyes and watching the start of the second half because I haven’t finished the Gallery 
  69. Darrell Fisher coming round with his iPad with the attendance on
  70. The distinct panic on his face if anyone scores a goal during this time, followed by a mad scramble to get back in to the PA Box to change the scoreboard
  71. The crowd rising if the team need them
  72. The team responding
  73. The screaming lady to my right 
  74. The moment I have to commit to my final match report. “United had to settle for a point…”
  75. Josh Ruffels ruining it by scoring the winner and making me willingly rewrite the report 
  76. The brutal adrenaline rush of having to complete both the Match Live and the Match report at the precise moment the ref ends the game. NOTHING comes close to this feeling and it is the single biggest thing I miss right now. Other than 50
  77. Sweet Caroline
  78. Balancing the laptop in the cradle of my arm as we join the flow of fans on the stairs back down. Note to self. Don’t do that when we go back. Silly.
  79. Leaving the decompresssion chamber of the lift lobby which divides the exiting fans from the excited staff. Once through the coded door there is such a buzz as we celebrate a win. Or deep, deep misery if we have lost (I think. Can’t remember)
  80. Bustling past the ballboys as they grab their coats in the corridor and I rush to the interview room
  81. Shaking hands with my opposite number- ALWAYS be respectful, always be helpful because one day you will be on their patch and need their help too
  82. Shaking hands with Karl and heading for the TV interview room. The brief discussion we always have. “See anything?” “Nothing bad. You OK? No need to mention that decision, just talk about the game…”
  83. The walk from TV room to pitchside for radio and newspaper interviews. Often interrupted for handshakes and hugs from family or Tiger/Zaki as I try and keep things moving
  84. Entering the dressing room to pick the two players for press duty. The happy smiles of the goalscorers or the resigned shrug from John Mousinho if we have lost. It’s always Mous if we lose. Sometimes he just waits outside the door for me. Saves time.
  85. Waiting, patiently, for players to finish their showers and come and do interviews or go and collect their Man of the Match
  86. A message from Tiger on the Whatsapp. Usually signed off with ’4.45 in Bangkok. Hv a good night’ 
  87. The newsroom busyness of the media office where galleries are completed, images are uploaded, headers are updated and my many typos are corrected. Thanks Martin
  88. Nods, handshakes and ‘well dones’ as one by one the players start to slip away
  89. The incredible number of visiting players who have to ask how to get out because they can’t remember how they got to the dressing room four hours earlier. Astonishing.
  90. Rob Dickie seeing me wait for final interviews. ‘Still doing nothing, Chrissy?’
  91. The moment when the media team finally sign off the last job and lean back in their chairs. ‘Everyone done? Then let’s go home. Bang average work again you lot. Well done.’
  92. Walking past the Manager’s office where staff from both teams will be having a beer together.
  93. Messaging my son. ‘Coming home?’ “Nah. We won. Out Out”
  94. Leaving the stadium and picking my way through small knots of people getting one last photo with their favourite player
  95. 20 minutes in the car on my own on the way home to collect my thoughts and worry about what we missed, videos uploading on the laptop, safely seatbelted into the passenger seat so it can encode videos all the way home
  96. Two hours of editing, uploading, tidying up and planning, all the time accompanied by the phone beeping and players asking for pictures for their social media. Mostly Malachi. (NB at away games this is done in the back of a KIA Seed!)
  97. The quiet satisfaction of finally clicking the laptop closed, matched by the clicking of a beer cap dropping from the first bottle. A day’s work done. Another match done and dusted. Game Face Off.
  98. The Manager phoning me for my thoughts
  99. Putting the phone on silent
  100. Silence
  101. You

 

Chris Williams is the club's Communications Manager. Views in this article are his own not necessarily those of the club. 


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