Friday, April 02, 2010
With the Boat Race between Cambridge and Oxford taking place tomorrow, Turls and Lakes take the opportunity to contrast the fortunes of the two city's respective football clubs' fortunes in this season's Conference.
Using the real life milestones from the actual Race, how has the season panned out for the two Varsity clubs?
Town Buoy (5 games)
Having failed to get promoted - again - both Oxford and Cambridge were looking to bounce back into the Football League. After so many near misses, many fans refused to expect anything of their club.
The Oxen got off to an electric start as they recorded four wins and a draw from their opening five games. They hammered relegated Chester 4-0 and beat Stevenage 2-1. The only blip came in an away draw at Kettering.
It was a drab start for Cambridge however, who were torpedoed by the ship-builders of Barrow - sinking to a 2-0 defeat on the opening day.
Inconsistency was rife - with two wins, two defeats, and two draws making up their first six results of the season.
Oxford have exploded from the start line - causing officials to pull alongside them and see if they've attached an electric motor to their boat!
It's a perfect start from the Oxen as they look to put the disappointment of the past behind them. These boys look like they mean business and have already opened up an impressive lead over the U's!
Oh, and it's chaos! Cambridge are all over the place. If they don't start stringing wins together, nobody is going to take their campaign chances seriously this term.
They've already slipped a long way behind Oxford and this could be a very long race for Cambridge.
Mile Post (10 games)
Oxford's electric start wasn't electric after all - it just turns out to be the norm for the Oxen. Another four wins and a draw saw them accumulate 26 points from the opening 10 games of the season.
What made the feat even more impressive is that, in the last five games, they didn't even concede a goal. Beating Luton was the high point of the run, but they will have been disappointed to have dropped points to Forest Green.
Averaging two goals a game, their rivals will be fearful that Oxford could run away with this.
BLAM! Cambridge are back though! It's a stonking 7-0 win over Forest Green, and surely that will see their form ignite. Well, not really. There are just too many draws! Too many draws!
Oxford are still going at an impressive rate of knots here. They don't look like easing up for a second. The rowers must be on some of drug because a start this good hasn't been since Cambridge invited the East Germans to race against them.
The U's are starting to win games big, but they're still drawing too many. They have the occasional burst of speed and then the team just think: "Well, that was rather good, wasn't it Jeeves? Let's take a well earned rest."
Cambridge don't have a cat in hell's chance of catching Oxford if they keep up this pace. That's the question though, isn't it - can they keep it up?
Hammersmith Bridge (20 games)
The next ten games weren't as smooth as smooth as the first ten for Oxford. After thrashing a poor Grays side 5-0, they then had a difficult time in the Midlands - losing at Mansfield and Kidderminster.
They did manage to win six of their ten games though. The Grays victory helped their goal difference as they managed to score 16 goals in their ten-game stretch, and only conceded ten.
With 46 points on the board, Oxford fans were not too concerned by the 'dip' in form.
Cambridge, however, were still stuttering. Collapsing, perhaps, under the weight of expectation. The fans were starting to realise it wasn't going to be their season.
An inability to win games is the key problem, with far too many draws leaving them high, dry, and not very handsome.
Oxford look like they're slowing down a bit. I knew they wouldn't be able to keep that pace up - even if all of them ate 200 bowls of Weetabix before the race.
They're still looking good, but there've been a couple of incidents that will concern the head honchos of Oxford University.
The first came when one of the boys threw up his lunch - looked like a Stag burger - and the other came when a small bird attacked several members of the team. We haven't had confirmation yet, but we're pretty sure it was a Harrier.
Either way, Oxford will be nervously looking their shoulder to make sure Cambridge don't gain on them too much. Although they won't actually be looking over their shoulder - considering rowers don't face the way they're going.
Bit dangerous really. That's toffs for you.
Cambridge don't look they're ever going to really get going. It's like they're rowing in custard, or something equally gloopy. Gloopy is a word, yeah?
Everyone thought that the Forest Green burst of speed would do it, but they were wrong. Massively wrong. Surely their priority now isn't winning the race or even setting a good time, but simply finishing in a respectable time?
Chiswick Steps (30 games)
An identical record to their previous ten games saw Oxford continue to stumble along. Defeats to Luton and Tamworth were eased by a 4-0 thrashing of Grays, but Oxen fans are starting to panic that automatic promotion could slip from their grasp again.
Six wins from ten games is good, but is it Champions good? Only seven goals conceded indicates that Oxford are looking strong at the back, but the warning signs are still there.
Meanwhile, it's all over for Cambridge. There are tears on the faces of the fans. They're now absolutely certain it's all over. At least they're being consistent in their inconsistency,
They seem completely incapable of putting a decent run together and need to be wary of relegation.
Oxford are still maintaining a steady rhythm and speed, but it's a pace that is a lot slower than earlier on in the race.
Fatigue looks to be etched across the faces of the team and panic could set in soon.
It would appear that a member of the crowd threw a Lamb at the Oxford team. I don't think I'll ever understand these varsity types. It certainly knocked the wind out of their sails.
Speaking of which - why have Oxford got that sail? Seems a little unfair to me. I'll consult the rule book and get back to you.
Anyway, they still hold a commanding lead over Cambridge. Oh, and Cambridge are taking on water! They are taking on water!
Our riverside correspondent is saying they've sprung a major leak of discontent and the very bowel of the vessel is starting to move and give way. This could get messy!
Barnes Bridge (35 games)
It looks as if Oxford have bottled it again. Just when the fans needed the players to step up and turn the pressure back on leaders Stevenage, they fail to win any of their five games.
A defeat at home to Hayes & Yeading was the worst point in a terrible run as they drew with Kettering, Tamworth, and Rushden.
More importantly, Oxford drew with rivals Cambridge. The Oxen will know that their rivals will be celebrating the fact they could stop the club being promoted.
If they carry on in this form, it looks as if they will be left to battle it out in the play-offs.
It was also a boring time to be an Oxford fan as the team scored four goals and conceded five. Exciting stuff indeed.
Cambridge though are delighted. Spurred on by that draw against Oxford, they are finally starting to string together some performances!
Six wins and two draws in March have seen them sail up the table. It's too late, but it's an indication of how the players have been holding back this season. Only the threat of relegation has boosted them to a mid-table berth.
The Oxen have pretty much stopped rowing! These are incredible scenes! I don't remember seeing anything like this since one of the Varsity Boys jumped out of the boat because he thought it was on fire.
It's like Oxford have hit some some type of brick wall. Maybe they have hit a brick wall? In which case, the authorities need to take a look at that because it's a serious water hazard.
Fortunately for Oxford, they still hold a massive lead over their rivals, so this 'decision' shouldn't come back and haunt them too much.
I'm still hoping to see someone fire a cannon at their opponents. What's that? This isn't Pirates of the Caribbean? Oh, that's a shame.
It's Cambridge who are in the ascendancy now though. They're going hell for leather and chasing down Oxford. There just isn't enough river! There simply isn't enough river!
They're going for it though, they're really going for it! It's a flat-out sprint to the finish, but surely it's come too late. They're about half a mile down on Oxford, but at least Cambridge are giving it a go!
Verdict: Comfortable victory for Oxford