United chairman Sumrith 'Tiger' Thanakarnjanasuth wrote the following notes in the Bristol Rovers programme:
Good afternoon everyone wherever you are reading this programme as we take on Bristol Rovers. It is unbelievable that this is our first home game in the league since Boxing Day, a whole month ago, but I suppose one of the things we always knew about this season was that it was going to be unlike any other.
It was interesting to speak with Karl earlier in the week and for him to talk about having to somehow keep our recent momentum going even when there have been no games. The team had won five games in a row including the Papa John’s Trophy game at home to Cambridge last week, a fantastic way to end 2020 and kick off a brand-new year. Meanwhile, the board, Karl, Mark Thomas and I have been working so hard during this January transfer window to try to bring in new players and we are constantly talking to each other in a bid to strengthen our squad.
Sadly, bad weather meant no game last weekend and that gave the players a different sort of challenge. They have to take the positives: don’t see it as a chance to become rusty, see it as a few extra days to shake off knocks and bruises and be ready for what is going to be a very tough schedule from here on in. We have faced so many challenges this season already and I am sure we will cope with plenty of new problems between now and May. We will face everything together, like we always do.
I am sure every fan reading this has faced plenty of tests and challenges over the last 12 months and I am pleased to see the Kassam Stadium being used as a vaccine centre. Somebody messaged me and asked whether it would interfere with our matches and I had to laugh because if we have learned one thing during this pandemic then it is that there are far more important things than football. I am sure we can happily work alongside the stadium company, but the biggest thing is for this terrible virus to be dealt with as quickly as possible; we will support anything that makes that happen.
On a similar subject, I enjoyed watching the calls that our players have been making to three fans who were nominated for their incredible work during the Covid crisis. The first one saw Matty Taylor call Laura Sanders and talk about the way she has worked in the most difficult conditions and at times put the health and safety of other people above her own. So many of our supporters have done that and watching that interview made me feel so proud of this football club and everyone who works for, plays for or supports it.
You can also play your part by helping to support your club from your living rooms and by buying your Oxford United merchandise from our online club shop. Although Christmas is over, it’s the January sales and there a plenty of great offers available.
It’s another big game today and another big chance to win three points, but whatever the final score we are always one game closer to our ultimate goal: to be united at matches again.