The Kassam Stadium and Oxford United logo

The Kassam Stadium, Oxford

Oxford United FC vs. Millwall FC
Carabao Cup 2nd Round

One of the most striking features of Oxford United's terminally incomplete Kassam Stadium is that it's still a three sided stadium. It looks like a throwback to the post-Taylor Report era of the early nineties where it was all too common to see teams playing in front of half built stadiums. The only difference here being that they actually bothered to complete the building work.

Exterior of Oxford United's Kassam Stadium
A heavy police presence for the arrival of Millwall.

Mess with the angles a little more and Oxford could have had the distinction of being the first sports team in the world with an isoceles stadium. Of course the sight lines for spectators would have been horrible and teams attacking the west end of the ground would have found it incredibly difficult to play with any width, but that's their problem to figure out.

Statue of a bull outside The Kassam Stadium
If Oxford had a latin motto on their badge I'm sure it'd translate as 'fierce and well endowed'.

Anyway, what is the most striking feature of The Kassam Stadium, is the unnervingly anatomically correct statue of an ox. For some reason in March 2008, with the club en route to finish a spectacular ninth in The National League, the board decided that time to be perfect to erect a bronze statue of an ox outside the stadium, instead of, you know, signing a few more players who could help you finish higher than ninth.

Close up of the bull statue's penis outside The Kassam Stadium
See? Look at that thing. Won't somebody please think of the children?

I get it, there's an 'ox' in Oxford, and an ox on the logo. Good one guys. But surely you'd have been better off creating something to commend a club legend, like the Atkinson brothers, Jim Smith, or Robert Maxwell (unless I've got it all wrong and it's meant to be a caricature of how Joey Beauchamp probably looked during the one season in his career where he didn't play for Oxford).

It was clearly a huge occasion for the club, since the unveiling was not publicised because of apparent health and safety concerns if the unveiling took place on a match day. When the average attendance that year was 4,728, the lowest since 1981, I don't think people crowding round the statue of an ox would be that concerning. I can only assume they were worried people might have their eyes poked out by the statue's rather graphic sculpting of a penis.

View of the pitch at The Kassam Stadium
Nice Vue.

Wikipedia states that an ox is a commonly castrated adult male cattle. Castration makes the animals easier to control, apparently (might be worth a try with some humans). By taking the decision to create this sculpture, balls and all, Oxford have managed to create a statue of a bull, which has even less relevance to the club than Michael Jackson had to Fulham. Was it really that hard to find someone willing to sculpt John Aldridge instead?

South stand at The Kassam Stadium
Nothing captures enthusiasm in a city like a Tuesday night EFL Cup tie.

I guess it's only fitting to talk about a sculpture that captures much of the same pent up aggression as a stereotypical Millwall fan. Thanks to their spotless reputation in the world of football, it was a pleasure to discover, upon arrival at the stadium, that we might not be allowed in because only people who were on the Oxford United database could buy tickets at the ground. It's a Carabao Cup tie away to Oxford, it's hardly West Ham in the Champions League World Cup final.

Fun fact: Oxford have a steward who used to be a member of the ICF, which I assume meant West Ham's Inter City Firm and not the International Curling Federation. Less fun fact: He wasn't allowed to steward the away end.

North stand at The Kassam Stadium
Apparently the best place to put Millwall fans is as far away from everyone else as you possibly can.

Fortunately the club weren't stupid enough to turn down paying customers, or risk disappointing a puppy dog eyed Swiss tourist in my company. This also meant taking a trip to the club shop. And I say taking a trip because unlike every other sports stadium in the history of time, Oxford decide to attach their club store to the neighbouring retail park, instead of the stadium.

Why make it accessible to everyone when you can just hide it round the corner of a cinema? You can't even see it from the stadium, or anywhere. I can only assume they're ashamed of the range of merchandise on sale, although the away kit is rather fetching.

James Henry scores a penalty during Oxford United vs. Millwall
James Henry strokes home a stoppage time penalty with the precision of someone who extracts bull semen for a living.

It was nice to see both squads full of Reading alumni, capturing the spirit of the Thames Valley Royals. Amongst them were Jamie Mackie, who plays football like he's constantly on the run from somebody trying to murder his family, led the line for Oxford, Jón Daði Böðvarsson (try writing that on an English keyboard), who scored twice for Millwall, and James Henry, who took the game into a penalty shootout with a stoppage time penalty that should never have been awarded anywhere.

Still, the Oxford fans who had been complaining about how biased the referee was towards Millwall for the whole game were suspiciously quiet after that. But maybe they left when Oxford pulled it back to 1-2, like many people around me. Weird.

Useless information about The Kassam Stadium

Address: Grenoble Road, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX4 4XP
Capacity: 12,400
Pitch Type: Grass
Ticket Price: £12 (East Stand)
Programme: £2, 16 pages

Oxford United FC ticket from 2019/20 season

Oxford United FC 2019/20 season programme