So.... Has Oxford Uni table football died?

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El Capitan
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So.... Has Oxford Uni table football died?

Post by El Capitan » Sun Jul 18, 2010 9:02 pm

I was chatting about this with Boris / Joe... does anyone play there anymore? It appears that Oxfoos.co.uk hasn't been updated in a long time.

Bad times :(

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Re: So.... Has Oxford Uni table football died?

Post by tom_k » Sun Jul 18, 2010 9:21 pm

I've lost track - I think it's still going on, but duke/temple didn't go in for cuppers (i.e the whole of Trinity term) so I've not played a Uni match since may ( I think).

As an old members/pub team, it's actually a bit of a let down - I can't remember the numbers, but we only played a fraction of our games last season. Usually the response is that they can't be bothered fielding a team when they 'know they'll lose' or they can't be bothered going to the duke for an away match (which again, they'll assume, probably inaccurately, that they'll lose).

I'm sure Graeme will pipe up for the Student side, they've got DYPs etc on Thursdays at Catz IIRC etc, but there's little interaction between town/gown .. which is a shame.

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Re: So.... Has Oxford Uni table football died?

Post by Graeme » Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:16 pm

We still play, we don't have the number of players or league teams that we used to though. We are still holding DYPs every Thursday (although they're at Merton or Somerville rather than Catz). We still have the league and Singles, Doubles and Team Cuppers, plus matches with Warwick and Cambridge every year. We should have had an Old Boys match this year too although we didn't get it organised in the end.

I know the website hasn't been updated for a long time, we were hoping it would be worked on last summer, now I'm hoping it will be worked on this summer.

I can understand old boys' frustrations and sadness at how OUTFC has fallen, I accept some responsibility for this but quite honestly the decline was to some extent inevitable even before I became involved. It seems like the departure of most of the university's good players within a couple of years had a big impact on the league and the player base (as well as the organisation and effective running of OUTFC) because those one or two good players at a college were really the core of the college team and once they left the teams would often drop out of the league. It's very hard to get those teams back unless you happen to get an influx of a few keen players into those colleges. At the time I didn't realise how big effect the top players had on the player base but now I'm convinced it really was important.

Even with a huge effort by the committee members to visit colleges and try to get new players involved we couldn't have kept up the number of teams in the league. I'm not saying we couldn't have tried harder or done better because clearly we could but I think nobody understood why we were losing so much interest or how to reverse it. I have done an ok job at maintaining interest at Merton but should have done more university-wide.

I just find it depressing when you do your best to get someone interested, make sure they are enjoying playing, encourage them to come to events and then they decide to stop playing altogether, which happens a lot even with players who are really promising and really keen because there are so many other things to be doing at university. I don't hold it against anyone in this position but as OUTFC declines more the problem becomes self-perpetuating and more and more potential players are lost because playing table football becomes less and less appealing. It's a struggle for the remaining players to find the motivation to get new players involved when so often it comes to nothing.

Every year we make an effort for Freshers Fair but despite signing up hundreds of people the conversion rate to active participants is poor. The current committee is basically the people who play, who are on the committee really because they have to be. This leads to further decline because the committee doesn't have the motivation or organisation that it has in the past.
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Re: So.... Has Oxford Uni table football died?

Post by El Capitan » Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:29 pm

A sad turn of events, but there is a beating heart, so fingers crossed.

I think you are doing the right thing by holding the weekly events. When there is no longer a "critical mass" at each college, it is imperative that rather than split an already small player base, you combine it in one venue.

The focus then becomes the promotion of that one venue as "the place to be".

Every college should have a poster up near the table which lets people know that these sessions are on, and hopefully you will attract the few keenest players down from each college and the scene can survive.

I would actually suggest this over a league unless you have the necessary player base of regular committed players. There is no successful league in the UK outside of Oxbridge for exactly that reason, yet single venues thrive in their own little corners of the UK.

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Re: So.... Has Oxford Uni table football died?

Post by Dancing Defence » Mon Jul 19, 2010 5:08 pm

Graeme,

One thing I found during my time as Secretary is that personalising emails(rather than sending out mass group ones) really helps. If a player personally knows you / committee want them at the DYP / in the league it makes them feel 'more wanted'.

Good luck with it all!
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Re: So.... Has Oxford Uni table football died?

Post by Pete F » Tue Jul 20, 2010 9:08 am

Tom_K wrote:I've lost track - I think it's still going on, but duke/temple didn't go in for cuppers (i.e the whole of Trinity term) so I've not played a Uni match since may ( I think).

As an old members/pub team, it's actually a bit of a let down - I can't remember the numbers, but we only played a fraction of our games last season. Usually the response is that they can't be bothered fielding a team when they 'know they'll lose' or they can't be bothered going to the duke for an away match (which again, they'll assume, probably inaccurately, that they'll lose).
Yup. Aside from current students there is a handful of older players still around Oxford - myself, Tom, Dave Carter, Stan, Mike Hart, and I think John Blanchard, Cath Brown and Chris Bethell, though I haven't seen them in a while.

The Oxford league has tended to allow a team of ex-members to play against the colleges, initially at the Duke, then at the Temple (RIP), and now back at the Duke again - but whereas two or three or four years ago the quality of the best college teams would be similar, now it's a bit of a cakewalk. Merton and Somerville have had teams reasonably willing to play, but most other colleges haven't had the commitment to play tougher games. Of the seven fixtures in Hilary Term we had four no-shows/claims and three wins IIRC. So we decided it wasn't worthwhile entering Cuppers. That was partly because we weren't getting competitive games and would have more fun getting together for a knock-around, but also because the quality of the college teams was low enough that we'd very probably win. Not that any of us are particularly good - indeed, in Cuppers 2009 we were outplayed by a strong St Anne's team in the final.

I think Graeme, Brodie and Lea have done a pretty good job promoting Oxfoos in recent terms - it's not the uni scene that's broken, it's in the colleges. None of them have more than two committed players any more (at the very most), so there's no internal rivalry - back in the day at Trinity or Catz there'd be six or seven players at the table most evenings, of whom probably two or three would be serious about playing beyond that level. Graeme's right in saying that the best players from four or five years ago left all around the same time, which has a knock-on effect for encouraging other players in each college to get involved.

It is a shame that the website hasn't been up-to-date, but there have been regular emails, Cuppers competitions etc., and weekly DYPs have usually taken place even if it's just been the core players you would expect as the year's gone on. Graeme - I would certainly not look to put any blame on you! Back in Michaelmas there were at least six or seven new players who came along to the first DYPs but their interest seems to have waned, which is a shame. And I'm not sure there's an easy solution to that - we can't just magic up a crop of new, interested players to be pro-active in each college.

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Re: So.... Has Oxford Uni table football died?

Post by The Doctor » Wed Jul 21, 2010 7:17 am

Bring back blocky?

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Re: So.... Has Oxford Uni table football died?

Post by Graeme » Wed Jul 21, 2010 11:35 am

Lots of colleges still have blocky-foot tables (predominantly owned by Isis). There was never any kind of mass-conversion.
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Re: So.... Has Oxford Uni table football died?

Post by Boris » Wed Jul 21, 2010 2:52 pm

I thought Oxfoos or ISIS had bought around 10x conversion kits after Gatwick in 2005?

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Re: So.... Has Oxford Uni table football died?

Post by Shovo » Wed Jul 21, 2010 4:03 pm

There are more than 10 colleges, Boris.

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Re: So.... Has Oxford Uni table football died?

Post by brodie » Wed Jul 21, 2010 7:11 pm

I think having no venue with more than one table has contributed too. Since Catz got rid of one of theirs (and added a glass top to the other), DYP groups have shrunk from 8-15 down to 4-7, probably because new players find it less dynamic playing the same people multiple times in a row. Although we tend to play differently with newcomers there, no snaking/pin shots etc, I think because they turn up in such small groups (one or two at a time) they are offput slightly by everyone else being of a reasonable standard.

As for different colleges attitudes, I find at Somerville there are only just enough players to make a team, despite us having 2 Oxford players, whereas Merton (with one Oxford player) has multiple teams. I think the reason for this is some colleges have moved their tables away from bars/games rooms, so it just isn't as social an activity anymore. Unfortunately there isn't really much that can be done about this

I agree completely with the idea of an old boys team being involved in the league, unfortunately several teams were not in agreement this year, but i think as long as the old boys want to play they should be able to
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