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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dreams and Aspires

Oxford secured their return to the Football League after a four year absence on Sunday with their Conference play-off final win over York.

With the Oxen now targetting challenging in next year's League Two,
Nobes looks at how former Conference play-off winners have fared.

Oxford United were 3-1 victors over York City at Wembley at the weekend

2003 - Doncaster Rovers

Rovers were winners of the first ever Conference play-offs in 2003 against Dagenham. That ended their five year spell in the Non Leagues. On their return to League Two, Donny surprisingly stormed to the title.

2004 - Shrewsbury Town

Salop had been relegated to the Conference in 2003 but immediately bounced back by beating Aldershot in the play-off final. They struggled on their first season back - but the appointment of Gary Peters helped ensure they survived.

2005 - Carlisle United

The Cumbrians lost their place in the Football League in 2004, but immediately regained it as play-off final winners over Stevenage. Back in League Two, they ended up sweeping aside their opponents to take the title and a second successive promotion.

2006 - Hereford United

Relegated in 1997, Hereford took nine years to return to the Football League under Graham Turner. After beating Halifax in the play-off final, they finished 17th on their first season back. They then won promotion - finishing 3rd in the following campaign.

2007 - Morecambe

The Lancashire side are the only club not to have previously played in the Football League and won the Conference play-offs. They finally made it into the 92 in 2007, and achieved back-to-back 11th place finishes before qualifying for this season's play-offs.

2008 - Exeter City

The Grecians spent five seasons in the Conference after relegation, but returned to the Football League after beating Cambridge in the play-off final. They made it successive promotions by finishing 2nd in their first season back.

2009 - Torquay United

After two seasons in Non League, Torquay returned to the Football League last May beating Cambridge in the play-off final. The Gulls had a difficult first season back, but improved as the campaign progressed and eventually ended up in 17th.

The omens appear pretty good for Oxford on their Football League return therefore. Two of the play-off winners won the League Two title, and another won promotion. Hereford also went up to League One in their second season back.

Of the other Football League teams who bounced back, Shrewsbury and Torquay both made swift returns and struggled initially.

Perhaps the Oxen's extended spell in the Conference will - like Exeter - stand them in better stead in the long term?

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