Continuing our series looking at Famous Fans, this week it is a family affair as we catch up with Jim and Tom Rosenthal.
Jim is one of the most familiar faces in sport after a distinguished broadcasting career that has seen him cover everything from World Cups to the Champions League and now host the FA Cup draw on ITV. His son Tom, who turned 24 this weekend, is an up and coming comedian who has appeared at the Edinburgh festival; stars in the hit TV show Friday Night Dinner and the new cult comedy Flat News.
Both father and son have shared a lifelong love of Oxford United but, and we'll come on to it later, it might not have worked out that way had Jim, doing what he considered the honourable thing, had his way.
For Jim it is a passion ignited at an early age: "I have been a fan since I was eight. I was born in the city and my dad took me to the old Manor Ground back in the days when the club was in the Southern League. A seed was sown and it has never left me since then. My family were never really into football, they were more academic, but I was always ready for a kickabout."
It is perhaps not a surprise to learn Jim's love of sport began at school and has grown. He explained: "I went to Magdalen College School which was a rugby school but football was always my first love. I love all sports and played for the county at hockey. I was a goalkeeper and had trials for the England team, but once I started working my weekends became more restricted and I played less sport.
"When I moved to London we actually had a BBC Commentary team for a while in the 70's and 80's. There was a fiendish amount of chat in those games as you'd imagine. We had some professionals playing for us as well but the likes of John Motson, Alan Parry and Martin Tyler would all play. It was a low standard but the analysis of games would take us hours!"
Jim famously allowed his love of the U's to overflow at the League Cup final of 1986. As captain Malcolm Shotton lifted the League Cup at Wembley Jim, anchoring ITV's commentary team, donned a yellow and blue horned hat to show his true allegiance: "I have never been too sure about that impartiality idea. I think it is unrealistic and a bit fanciful. If you are not partial and you don't feel it then why are you covering sport? In retrospect I made one or two errors. Career-wise that wasn't great in 1986, but as an Oxford fan, I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
"My one fantasy was to see Oxford in the top division, and those were great days for the club but my saddest times were watching the club decline. That was heartbreaking."
Now a director of his boyhood team, Jim has every faith in the current management team at the Kassam Stadium: "I honestly believe that we are in a good place right now. The current regime is as good as I have ever seen, probably better. The club has dreams of Championship football and we have a great young manager in Chris Wilder. He is doing a fantastic job and the club is moving forwards in every way."
That love of the U's has been passed down a generation. You would have expected Jim to indoctrinate his son with all things Oxford from an early age, but in fact he has allowed Tom to choose his own colours:
"I think he feels deeply about the club. He was born near QPR's ground and I told him to support the team closest to where he was born, but I took him there a few times and he just didn't feel it. Then when he was about six he said he wanted to be an Arsenal fan.
"It was just as Arsene Wenger started to change the whole perception of the club. He watches Arsenal a lot still but I like to think that he feels close to Oxford as well, and it's not just to keep his old dad happy. He is a philosophy graduate and you need to be pretty philosophical when you follow Oxford and Arsenal."
Son Tom appreciates his father leaving him free to make that decision and told us: "In a way he was right to take me to QPR because supporting your local team is best, but I just didn't have an affinity to them and I have this deep family bond to Oxford. I went to loads of games at the Manor with my dad and I love the human element and the real community spirit that there is at every Oxford game. I do still love watching Arsenal just to see the standard of football, but it is a very different game."
Tom may even have made his dad's dreams come true had his own footballing career gone a different way. He explained: "I was on the books at Oxford as a kid, doing a year in the Academy. I enjoyed it but wasn't going to make it even though I still enjoy playing. I play every Sunday but am a wimp when it comes to tackling. I am like Paul Scholes, I never quite got the hang of that part of the game.
"I did a show in Edinburgh and we had a game of Comedians against the Critics. I'm not saying that it was intentional but I kicked one of the critics pretty hard so I must have a bit of a mean streak. We had Milton Jones on our side and he was probably the pick of the bunch. He has a certain Messi quality about him. We also played against a Stenhousemuir XI and beat them."
You sense that both generations of the Rosenthal family are going to be on our screens for a long time to come as Tom prepares for a busy 2012: "I am planning a show for Edinburgh again and currently working on something called Flat News for the BBC. It goes online every Thursday and has been well received.
"We then start rehearsals in February for the next series of Friday Night Dinner. I get weekends off during those which is great as there are some big games; Manchester City and Chelsea at home for Arsenal and Oxford at home to Swindon, which is a massive game.
"I can't imagine anything better than sitting with my dad watching a huge game of football like that."
See Tom in Flat News in the BBC iPlayer or You Tube, or follow him on Twitter @rosentweets.
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