IT’S a familiar scenario at the outset of what promises to be another compelling season of college football as the chasing pack look to wrestle the Premier League title from a Worcester side out to retain their crown for the third time in succession. With flame-haired goal machine Mike Hobbiss having graduated, this could be the year where the likes of New College begin a new Oxford football dynasty of their own. For New’s captain Tom Howell, thoughts of what might have been last season still linger. “Many of our boys still feel robbed of the league last year after a shocking linesman decision cost us three points against Worcester” he said. “We will be fighting for top spot again this year but still expect Worcester to be the team to beat.”The other Premiership side to watch will be St. Anne’s, whose remarkable 2006-07 season ended with promotion from Division One as champions and a Cuppers final appearance after an odds-defying run. Having proved their strength in defeating Premiership opposition last season, captain Ryan Fox is confident that his side can cope with the step up in class this year.“It’ll be real test to deal with the quality of the Premier Division” he said, “but with last year’s cup run behind us, there’s no reason why we can’t at least hold our own. We’ve also retained almost all of last year’s side, so with a few decent freshers we should have enough strength in depth to last the season.“A great deal depends on our giant striker Ed Border, who was the driving force behind last season’s success. As well as being a fantastic target man, he’s also one of the most skilful players in college football, so it will be an important season for him.”The First Division is shaping up to be Oxford’s most competitive this year, with almost every side looking to make a decent stab at promotion. Relegated St. Catherine’s, St. Hugh’s and Keble will want to make a speedy return to top flight football, whilst the likes of Somerville, Magdalen and newly-promoted Exeter will be keen to deny their more esteemed rivals promotion to the elite league.Exeter can draw on a fine Cuppers run last year where they defeated Premiership sides Catz and Teddy Hall, before succumbing to eventual winners Brasenose. “We managed to beat Hall 8-0 in the cup” said captain Daivd Lee, “so we shouldn’t be written off in Division One this season. We’ll take things one game at a time, but with Jon George, who bagged 23 goals for us last season, we’ll be more than a match for anyone in this league.”For Keble, however, anything less than promotion is not an option after being relegated last year despite only finishing two points of third spot. “The end of last season was very frustrating” says captain Sebastian Singh. “We’re definitely not going to underestimate this division, but we should have enough quality and strength in depth to go straight back up.”
Work is underway to renovate the Sports and Civic Center, which will include an expansion and upgraded amenities. By MADDY VITALEThe Ocean City Sports and Civic Center is a popular venue for athletics and special events and has been for years.However, from the look of the outside and inside of the building, it was clear that it needed a bit of TLC, city officials said.Which is why construction crews are transforming the dated building with a $2.2 million renovation to showcase what it can and will look like.The center, at 6th Street and the Boardwalk, will become a more functional facility with an expansion project and facelift.The city put money toward it in its 2019 capital plan. Over the years, the Sports and Civic Center has served as both an athletic complex and also an entertainment venue as well as a staging area for special events on the Boardwalk.Although the project has been in the works for a while, the finished product — anticipated in February — will be worth the wait, explained Michael Allegretto, aide to Mayor Jay Gillian.“The city team is very pleased with the current progress of the Sports and Civic Center addition,” Allegretto said. “The new amenities will certainly make the building a better facility for our local and visiting sports teams. I can’t wait for the project to be completed and the public gets to experience the improved facility.” An architectural rendering depicts the new overhang that will be added to the Sports & Civic Center’s entrance as part of a major renovation. (Courtesy of City of Ocean City)Allegretto explained what everyone would see when viewing the exterior and also gave an idea of what it will look like on the inside.“From the outside you can see the addition for office space and much needed storage for all of our activities,” he said. “From the inside you can see the bathrooms and locker room spaces really taking form.”On Friday afternoon, construction crews were working on the interior. The building plays an important role in the city’s sports scene and as a venue for special events. The complex has been rented out year after year by college sports teams for practice. Villanova University’s football team has practiced at the stadium in recent years. Mayor Gillian has said in his plan to improve the complex, that with added amenities and being more aesthetically pleasing, it will make it more attractive to the sports teams that use the building during their workouts at the adjacent Carey Stadium high school athletic complex.In 2019, city officials unveiled an architectural rendering of what the updated Sports and Civic Center project would look like during a City Council meeting.Specifically, there will be new locker rooms, bathrooms and a concession area. An overhang will be added to the entryway to protect people from the rain and also to improve the building’s overall appearance.The complex at 6th Street and the Boardwalk is being expanded to make it more functional for athletics and special events.