Returning Players: Chris Hargreaves

Welcome to Last Word on Footballs ‘Returning Players’ Series. In this edition, we take a look at midfielder Chris Hargreaves.

Hargreaves joined Oxford United from Brentford in 2005 but suffered relegation to the Conference League with the U’s. He left to join Torquay United but returned to Grenoble Road and helped the club secure promotion back into the Football League.

Returning Players – Chris Hargreaves

First Spell at Oxford United

An experienced player, Hargreaves had turned out for several Football League clubs during his career including Hereford United, Plymouth Argyle and Northampton Town. Having made over 150 appearances for the Cobblers, he spent one season at Brentford before joining the U’s.

However, the midfielders’ debut season at Grenoble Road ended in disaster as the U’s suffered relegation into the Conference League on the final day of the season, becoming the first English side to go to into non-league having won a major cup competition.

The experienced midfielder was a key part of the squad. Despite the club’s demise, Hargreaves scored once and laid on four assists from 39 appearances in all competitions. His only goal came on the opening day of the season in a 1-1 draw against his former club Grimsby Town.

The following season, he turned out 41 times and added five goals. However, Oxford failed to secure promotion back to League Two despite leading the division for large parts and going the first 18 games unbeaten. The U’s ended their campaign with defeat in the play-off semi-final.

Teams That Hargreaves Played for in Between

After his release from Oxford by the late Jim Smith, Hargreaves joined Torquay United. The midfielder made over 100 appearances in two-and-a-half years at Plainmoor and scored the first goal in a 2-0 win as Torquay won promotion to League Two via the playoffs. Hargreaves netted ten times in total for the Gulls, including three in League Two.

Return to Oxford for Hargreaves

At 37-years-old, Hargreaves returned to Oxford. Despite his age, the midfielder was in demand, but he chose Oxford as he looked to right the wrongs of relegation and secure promotion back to the Football League under new manager, Chris Wilder.

Despite only playing ten times, Hargreaves and Oxford returned to League Two with victory in the playoffs over York City. Although the midfielder didn’t have as much of an impact on the pitch, his experience around the dressing room helped to drag the U’s back to the fourth tier of English Football.

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