FOOTBALL is not all about Wembley wins and open-top bus rides, writes The Oxonian.

Most of us will never get to experience that side of the Beautiful Game, but will be far more familiar with Sunday mornings atop the shoulders of a teammate, frozen fingers trying to clip the nets to a cold metal goal frame while the Gaffer rings round to try and find that elusive eleventh player.

Sunday football is fantastic. Weighing up whether to have that extra pint (‘I’m playing in the morning, just get me a Foster’s’), pitches either threadbare in summer or solid in February, the fight to get the only pair of socks that had been washed from the week before. All human life is here.

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I was talented enough as a player to play in the Morrells Oxford Sunday League Division Five. We would train once a week, for an hour on a Thursday evening, then retreat to the local pub for two hours to discuss tactics and team selection (‘Baz can’t make it, going to a wedding. Jeremy is struggling due to childcare. Oh, and there are only three corner flags left’).

To be honest, we didn’t even train that regularly once bad weather set in, preferring to rely on our natural athleticism and superior fitness skills to give us the edge against the likes of The Fox at Barton, or the posh kids at Marston Road. It was great and just occasionally real football would break out.

My team was Stadhampton and I vividly recall lending a hand to mow the pitches, paint the clubhouse and help put lights up in the tree line. It was the village team really, but I was a flash foreign import, welcomed into the gang despite coming from the other side of the A40.

It took them maybe a dozen games to work out that I wasn’t actually any good, but it didn’t seem to bother the Gaffer, provided I got him a beer on those long Thursday nights.

We didn’t win too many games and I hear younger readers ask why we bothered? Well, football at that level is about friendship. My cousin was in the same team, his brother-in-law was the striker, and we are all still mates, because of that season of misses and mellow fruitlessness. Football does that. It brings people, brings communities, together.

And so it made me sad to see the news this week that someone had broken into Stadhampton’s clubhouse, and stolen equipment and caused damage to the building. Who would do that? Why would you want to undo the hard work that people put in week in, week out? We’re not Wiltshire.

So, Oxfordshire, I thought you might like to help. If you would like to chip in a fiver to help Stadhampton get back on their feet, then is the place to be.

People have rallied round and been very kind. Think of it as paying your subs, without the pain of actually having to play.