With Christmas just a month away now the time for giving is upon us (and by that I'm not referring to the way our defence gifted Crawley four goals on Saturday), which means one thing: the Christmas shopping season has begun. Christmas offers football clubs and merchandisers plenty of opportunity to offload their tat on unsuspecting football fans, so expect to see all manner of club-branded nonsense in stores over the coming weeks. So, for the benefit of those of you lucky enough to be buying for an avid Oxford fan, we thought we'd make things easier for you by producing this simple guide of essential OUFC purchases this Christmas, from the sublime to the ridiculous.
What better way to celebrate the third anniversary of Chris Wilder's appointment than by wearing your brand new Lord Wilder t-shirt from Cult Zeros this Boxing Day? Okay, so you might get a little chilly standing on the Kingsmeadow terrace in just a t-shirt, but what's a little frostbite when you look this good? If Wilder's not quite your cup of tea, there are plenty of other options, such as Beano, Clarkey, or how about a snazzy Darren Patterson shirt....maybe not.
12th Man Badge
Probably the ultimate sign of support, the 12th Man badge is an absolute must-have for all Oxford fans. The badges (modelled here by Robbie Hall) can be bought most matchdays at the Kassam (unless they've sold out by now) for £2, with all proceeds going to the 12th Man Fund. Now there's a good cause!
It's hard to believe now, with the club not far removed from a spell in the Conference, but Oxford United were once a buoyant First Division club who had known pretty much nothing but success. Released to coincide with our promotion to the top flight in 1985 – and with a foreword from Robert Maxwell – the book documents the club's rise to the top in glorious colour, and serves as a handy bit of propaganda for Maxwell. If nothing else, it's a nice piece of nostalgia.
On a side note, nostalgia seems to be a popular theme for gift ideas – such as the strangely luminescent 1986 replica shirts that are currently available from the club shop.
Last year the club debuted a rather unusual piece of merchandise: the Oxford United gnome. It must have been popular because this Christmas there are two new members of the OUFC gnome family. As well as the celebrating gnome pictured above, the club has also released the bizarre relaxing gnome – whatever next?! These are too good for the garden, surely?
This has to be an essential item for the visit of our friends from the wrong end of the A420 in March. We might as well make the most of the bragging rights while we still have them! Dopper Designs is an independent webshop selling unofficial OUFC t-shirts with some great designs that you're unlikely to see appearing in the club shop any time soon. If gloating or Swindon-bashing isn't your thing, then perhaps a more patriotic design would suit you, ahead of this summer's Euro 2012 campaign. Profits from sales are apparently donated to the 12th Man Fund as well.
Martin Brodetsky's latest book is an encyclopedic work, documenting the lives of current and former Oxford players, managers and even chairmen. If his previous books are anything to go by it's sure to be compelling reading and I know I'm looking forward to unwrapping my copy on Christmas Day.
And that completes our guide, though we should give an honourable mention to two of the most bizarre bits of merchandise I've ever seen:
An Oxford United 'flat cap/Jockey hat' that appears to have been made out of a flannel.
And this jigsaw puzzle, possibly the most pointless thing ever created, featuring a random picture taken from a match against Southend several years ago. Quite why anyone would waste their time assembling such a thing is beyond me, but for just £15.32 you could be wasting your time with it!