21 march 2006

Varsity football match returns to prime location near Boat Race

Spectators will once again be able to watch the battle between Oxford and Cambridge in both rowing and football on 2 April, as the Varsity Football Match is returning after a five-year absence to its location on the banks of the River Thames, near the Boat Race.

Throughout the 1990s the annual match was played at the home of Fulham FC, Craven Cottage, on the same day as the Boat Race. Redevelopment of the Fulham stadium to meet the demands of premiership football meant alternative venues had to be found in the last five years, which included the homes of Oxford United, Queens Park Rangers, West Ham and Cambridge United. On 2 April this year, though, the match returns to the Fulham FC stadium.

The stadium lies on the Middlesex bank of the Thames, a mile up from the traditional start of the Boat Race at Putney, so the Varsity Football and the Boat Race will once again coincide in both location and date.

Oxford and Cambridge Football Clubs have met on 121 previous occasions, and in 2005 Oxford edged into a narrow lead by 47 wins to 46 (with 28 draws). However, the matches are usually close and keenly contested and the Oxford players will need to be at their best to prevail again this year.

Recent years have seen Oxford University Association Football Club enjoying considerable success against its arch rival. The records show that although Cambridge won four games in a row in the mid 1980s, they have managed only one win since then.

Club Senior Treasurer, Richard Tur, said: 'Both University Football Clubs are very grateful to their hosts over the last five years, and now everyone is delighted to be back at Fulham FC. There is no better venue and date for the Varsity match than at Craven Cottage on Boat Race Day.

'Naturally I hope that Oxford will prevail, but win or lose, it promises to be a great Varsity day out. I hope that as many people as possible will attend, not only to support their own University, but also to sustain and participate in a glorious tradition. Tickets are now on sale and ticket sales are vital to the success of the Varsity Match, not only this year but for the future.'

Tickets for the match, which kicks off at 1 pm on 2April, are £10 for adults and £5 for children. The tickets include a match programme, Riverside Stand seating for the match, and prime viewing space on the Riverside Terrace for the Goldie and Isis Race (due to start at 4pm) and the 152nd University Boat Race (due to start at 4.35pm). There will be burger kiosks and beer bars and other entertainment such as a jazz band, and Fulham FC are also able to offer executive boxes and rooms for groups who wish to book a meal between the football and the rowing.

The Fulham FC Ticket Line is on 0870 442 1234, or tickets can be bought online at Way Ahead. Tickets are also available from OUAFC (richard.tur@oriel.ox.ac.uk).