This is the long-awaited statue of an Ox that fans are hoping will see United charging up the table.

The much-delayed statue was unveiled outside the Kassam Stadium this afternoon by four-year-old season ticket holder, Matthew Deeley, from Bicester, with the help of a 24-foot crane.

Legendary U's coach and director Jim Smith said he hoped the ox, which stands on a five-foot marble plinth engraved with the words Oxford United, would prove a lucky omen.

He said: "It's beautiful. I think it's classy and it adds an awful lot to this lovely stadium.

"Hopefully it will bring us a bit of luck. Footballers are a superstitious bunch and maybe they will be thinking this could bring us the change of luck we need. I think it could become a focal point for fans and it would look nice with an Oxford United flag draped on it."

The unveiling was greeted by a small number of fans with the organisers saying they kept it a deliberately low-key affair to avoid any safety implications from revealing it on a match day.

Those who attended were impressed.

Tony Crook, 39, from Bicester, said: "It is very impressive. It makes me proud of the team.

"I like the size of it and I think it sums us up really well. It makes the Kassam feel more like the home of Oxford United. Let's hope it brings us some luck.

"It's a shame there weren't more fans here but when people come to the next game I think they'll like it."

Andy Hinchen, 48, from Oxford, said: "It's quality. It's a nice statue. It's personalising the place a bit more which is a step in the right direction, but it would be nice to have more things associated with Oxford United here."

The statue, which was funded by Buildbase, Ridge & Partners, Oxford Stone & Marble and STL Communications, was a condition of planning for the Kassam and fans have been waiting to see what the statue was since it was bought in March last year.

The cost of the statue and plinth was about £25,000.

Brendon Cross, who co-ordinated the project, said: "It's taken longer than we expected but we wanted to make sure the work of art symbolises the football club and epitomises the desire and aggression needed to take the football club forward.

"Everything we have heard about the statue from the fans has been positive. It was never intended to be a high-profile affair, we kept it low key on purpose.

"It would have been nice to unveil it on a match day but with a few thousands fans around there are so many safety implications that it would have made it almost impossible."

Chairman Nick Merry said: "It's a very nice piece of art. I think the fans will give it the respect it deserves."