Oxford United face Forest Green Rovers in the second round of the Papa John's Trophy, and U's Chairman 'TIger' wrote the following notes for the match programme:
I wanted to start today by saying a massive thank you to everyone who attended Saturday's game against Hull.
The club asked fans to come along and respect the new rules that would be in place because of Covid protocols and if I am honest, we did not know how well it would go. There were a few nerves because we hadn’t been able to test the procedures, and although we were confident that everything would work, we knew that we would need the co-operation of the fans as well.
So thank you to the 1,000 supporters who not only created an atmosphere way beyond what a crowd of that size should generate but also wore masks, followed safety announcements and respected everyone around them. Why were we worried? It’s the Oxford United family and we look after each other.
I am so jealous because watching from my home in Thailand I could sense the atmosphere and would have loved to be there in person. It’s strange to think that one of the most iconic games in the club’s history was watched by only 1,000 people but because of the success, we now know we can expand that number and keep growing crowds.
That does not mean that it will be easy and that life will be smooth from now on. I think 2020 has taught us to expect problems and that situations change so quickly, so there will always be a note of caution around our plans, but it does seem that we are moving quickly now and my biggest hope is that before the end of the season we can be united: all of us.
A draw against the team at the top of the table should not be underestimated and I thought the team played very well in the first half and were probably the better side. The second half was more even but there was some excellent defending, and you could see how much it meant to all the players not to lose the game in front of the fans.
Finally, I want to say a thank you to a group who have been overlooked, as so often. Saturday’s game was a great thing, but it was only possible with the hard work and the teamwork of everyone behind the scenes. Niall McWilliams heads that team, but whether it is Michelle and the safety team, Andy Taylor our Covid officer, the turnstile operators, the programme sellers, the stewards, the communications team who got the messages across so clearly, or individuals like Darrell on the scoreboard and Nathan on the PA system: EVERYONE worked so hard and should be very proud to have contributed to Saturday.
Enjoy the game, wherever you are.
You can download the full programme at www.matchdayfix.com/oufc