CLUB FOCUS: North Oxford Conservative Club

After winning promotion in their first season in the Critchleys Upper Thames Valley League, North Oxford Conservative Club are geared up to rise to the top of the league, writes MATTHEW BRUCE.

The club finished third in Division 3 last season to go up to the next tier, and club secretary Kevin James admitted that immediate success came as a surprise.

“We thought we’d hold our own in the league because we’ve got some good players, but I’m not sure we expected to do so well,” he said.

“We were right up there all season and we actually should have won it to be honest, but we just fell away at the end.”

James believes the team was able to make such an impact due to the support of North Oxford Conservative Club in Summertown where they are based.

He said: “On the pitch, it was all due to a lot of dedication from the players and everyone involved, but off it the club were a big help.

“Most of us are members there and when we decided to form a football club they set us up, bought the kit and paid our affiliation fees.

“They still lay food on for us every week and it’s acted as a really great base for us.”

Building on solid foundations, this season the club has strengthened further and has made some notable additions to the squad, including former Oxford United star Joey Beauchamp.

His arrival has had an instant impact, as he came off the bench to score twice on his debut and netted in Sunday’s 12-0 win over the Village Inn.

“We all grew up together so he’s just another one of the lads,” said James.

“You can tell he played at a higher level and he will really bring something to the team, but he’s starting as a sub at the moment because you can’t just come in and take someone’s place!”

Manager Anthony Davies added: “The lads all knew him before he was at Oxford, back when he was kicking a ball outside his mum’s house.

“He’s always up for a laugh and he joins in with all the banter, so he fits in really well.

“Even in this league you can see that his whole game is just geared up for a much higher level and you can see he’s still got it.”

Davies has lofty ambitions for his side, who are fifth in Division 2, and he believes they are capable of securing back-to-back promotions.

“We’ve got promotion in our sights,” he said. “We’ve targeted the Premier Division in the next three seasons and with the class of player we’ve got why not?

“A lot of our players play Oxfordshire Senior League and Hellenic League football every Saturday so these are good players.”

But beyond simply achieving success on the field, Davies believes the club could play a positive social role as well.

He added: “I think the biggest problem is that there are not many youngsters coming through, they’d all rather sit at home playing video games.

“If the young players we have here now can get involved more, then hopefully they’ll pass that on to their friends and get them involved.

“If we can get just one youngster out of their bedroom and playing football then we’ve done our job.”

CLUB founder Tony Lane sadly passed away on November 11 after a two-year battle with bowel cancer.

He will be sorely missed by all the players, committee members and all who knew him at the club.