They may play their rugby in the BB&O Premier Division, but not very long ago Oxford were the county's leading club.

Before the modern league structure and professionalism took hold, Oxford enjoyed a status only a little below England's top clubs.

Their roots go back to 1909 and with their centenary coming up, former player and policeman Richard Tyrell has penned volume one of the club's history.

Entitled 'Green, White and Black', which are the club's colours, Tyrell's first volume takes in the years 1909 to 1959 and he is already working on volume two.

Starting out as Oxfordshire Nomads, the club only became Oxford RFC in 1948 after a merger and it took them until 1951 to move to their Southern Bypass ground.

This book will obviously have more appeal for past and present Oxford members, but there is plenty here to interest the less partisan reader.

Throughout the book there is reference to other clubs starting up and folding and indeed the Nomads were wound up in 1919 after having 18 members killed in World War One.

But the Oxford club were back playing again two years later.

Even in the early days there was a genuine desire for a Oxford to have a club worthy of its city status.

The book reveals there was talk of a 'unified' club as early as 1934, prompting a big debate in the Oxford Times.

Oxford RFC gradually became a reality, although the Oxford Exiles never joined up.

They later merged with Oxford Marathons, who many years later would join with Oxford Old Boys to form Oxford Harlequins.

Now, of course Quins and Oxford have formed the city's rugby partnership, so maybe the Exiles go there in the end.

The detail in this book increases as the years go on with the 1950s seasons easily the best covered.

Chris Price, Oxford captain between 1950 and 1954, said: "I congratulate Richard on the way he has researched so studiously and so diligently to produce this result.

"Certainly I shouldn't have cared to have been the subject of a police investigation by him."

The blow-by-blow narrative style of Tyrell's book may not be to everyone's taste.

But it is a valuable record of a club that have stayed the course.

Although Tyrell may not be targeting the 'stocking filler' market, he deserves to sell his fair share of copies.

The book can be bought for £16.99, which includes postage and packaging.

Send your details and cheques payable to 'Stray Cat Publishing' to 159 Banbury Road, Kidlington, Oxford, OX5 1AL.