David Oldfield

Former Player Remembers: David Oldfield

Speaking to Club Historian John Hutchinson, Australian-born former striker and midfielder, David Oldfield, discussed playing 221 games and scoring 32 goals for Leicester City between 1990 and 1995.
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An England Under-21s international, he also played for Luton Town, Manchester City, Millwall, Peterborough United and Oxford United. Since retiring from playing, David has coached extensively at Peterborough United, West Bromwich Albion, MK Dons, Burton Albion and Queens Park Rangers. He is currently manager at Oxford City.

David began by explaining how he stared his career at Luton Town, 9,000 miles away from his birthplace in western Australia.

He said: “My parents, both teachers, emigrated to Australia in the 1960s. My sister and I were born in Perth, but my family returned to England when I was four-and-a-half because my grandfather became ill. Although I have both a British and an Australian passport, I had English parents and grew up mostly in England. My father’s family is from Melton Mowbray and was a fifth generation thatcher but we moved to north Buckinghamshire.

“I ended up at Luton Town, which was the closest League club, because I was scouted by them when I was 14. I made my debut when I was 18 soon after our 1988 Littlewoods Cup Final win over Arsenal. We had really good players like Mick Harford, Brian Stein, Steve Foster, Mal Donaghy, Danny Wilson, David Preece and Ricky Hill, who had a little spell at Leicester of course. It was a fabulous club doing really well in the top league.”

Whilst at Luton, David received an England Under-21s call up in March 1988. A year later, David moved to Mel Machin’s Second Division Manchester City, helping them secure promotion to the top flight that season.

He added: “In the England Under-21s squad, I had played with several Manchester City players, such as David White, Ian Brightwell, Steve Redmond and Paul Lake. This was a factor in me going to Manchester City. I knew it was a young squad and that I would join a group of similar aged boys with similar ambitions.

“I had a choice between joining Manchester City or West Ham. West Ham were struggling a little bit in Division One and City were odds on to get promotion from Division Two which we did.”

In September 1989, David hit the headlines with two goals in a 5-1 defeat of Manchester United, but two months later, Machin was sacked. A month after that, David signed for David Pleat at Leicester City.

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David Oldfield
David Oldfield

David played a total of 221 games games for the Foxes.

David explained: “We were doing okay, but Mel left and Howard Kendall came in. He brought in quite a few ex-Everton players that he knew and wanted to work with again. One of them was Wayne Clarke from Leicester and a swap deal involving me was arranged to bring Wayne to Maine Road.

“I have to be honest. It was a difficult decision to leave Manchester City because I hadn’t been there too long. I was ambitious and wanted to do my best there. Having said that, it was an easy decision to come to Leicester. I knew about the size of the club. I knew about some of the players as well. Coming to Leicester was such a bonus. It was a big club and also had so much potential. I was sad to leave Manchester City but was very pleased to join Leicester.

“Pleat (who had taken Luton Town to the top flight and who had been Second Division City’s manager since December 1987) was a factor in me going to Filbert Street because I knew that I could develop with him. He knew the game and, although we struggled initially, he was a very good manager. The fact that I was wanted at Leicester also meant that I pleased to move there. It was a good move for me.”

David could not have had a more dramatic Leicester City debut. They were 4-2 ahead with 13 minutes to go, but lost 4-5 against Newcastle United at St. James’ Park.

“That was an amazing game”, David recalled. “I remember we played so well. We definitely should have won. We had some really good players like Gary McAllister. We were all a bit shell shocked afterwards about how we had managed to get beaten. I played up front with Kevin Campbell.

“I came to the Club as a striker but my career was split between being a midfielder and a striker. When I was a youngster, I was a midfield player, but turned into a striker as a young lad at Luton. I went to Manchester City as a striker but at Leicester I migrated back to midfield and enjoyed myself there”.

David’s second season at Filbert Street was a difficult one. With the Club near the foot of the table, Pleat left in January 1991. Gordon Lee took over for the rest of the season.

In the last match of the season, Leicester had to beat Oxford United and other results had to go their way if the Foxes were to avoid dropping into third tier for the first time in their history.

Tony James’ winning goal for City - and West Bromwich Albion’s failure to beat Bristol Rovers - enabled= them to survive the drop. Later that month, Brian Little became Leicester’s new manager.

I was sad to leave Leicester because I knew it was such a fabulous club and it was such a privilege to play in front of the Filbert Street crowd.

David Oldfield

“Brian came in with John Gregory and Allan Evans and the three of them effectively galvanised the Club,” David continued.

“Brian’s training was sharp and enjoyable and the boys really took to it. There were one or two little changes in personnel and everybody flourished under it. There were some strong players there and the recruitment added a bit of energy as well. We just took off and did very well. Brian was so important to that. It was definitely the start of a new era with the Club making real progress.  

“In Brian’s first season, we reached the play-off final against Kenny Dalglish’s Blackburn Rovers. I had done well but got injured towards the end of the season and didn’t play at Wembley. We were beaten 1-0.

“The following season, we reached the final again, this time against Glenn Hoddle’s Swindon Town. We went 3-0 down. We pulled it back to 3-3 and then were beaten 4-3! It was a great occasion and a brilliant game but it was extremely disappointing. We were heartbroken after that one. It definitely hurt. It took us a few weeks to get over that. But we managed to come back, hit the ground running and ended up in the final again the following season, when we beat Derby. I was in the squad but didn’t play in that final when Walshy (Steve Walsh) scored his two goals.”

The following season, with Leicester struggling in the Premier League, Little left the Club for Aston Villa. Mark McGhee replaced him. David finished the season on loan at Millwall.

Thinking back to that season, David remembered: “When Mark came in, he had his own ideas and changed things. I wasn’t in the team and went on loan, for the only time in my career, to Millwall. I enjoyed it down there. I had hoped that something would come from that but it didn’t. In the end, that summer I ended up going back to Luton. I was sad to leave Leicester because I knew it was such a fabulous club and it was such a privilege to play in front of the Filbert Street crowd. But I knew I wouldn’t being playing as many games as I wanted to play.”

After a three years at Luton, where he was their Player of the Year in 1998, David rejoined Little at Stoke City: “After spending those years in midfield at Leicester, I went back to being a striker at Luton. I had three good seasons there. Brian had gone to Stoke City, who were in the third tier then, but it was still a big club. When Brian offered me a contract there, it was a good opportunity.

“Brian was brilliant in that first season. We had such a fantastic start but then we faded. We didn’t realise our potential and Brian ended up leaving. Gary Megson replaced him. He was a different type of manager to Brian. It took us a little time to get going, but then we started to get moving under Gary. There were some good players in the team and you could see the progression. Then the club was taken over by an Icelandic consortium. Gary unfortunately lost his job and an Icelandic manager, Guðjón Þórðarson (whose son was the future Leicester City player, Joey Guðjónsson) came in. He brought in Icelandic players and coaches. It was definitely an experience.

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David Oldfield
David Oldfield

Oldfield enjoyed a successful spell at Stoke shortly after leaving Leicester.

“Stoke was such a fantastic club with great potential. It is fabulous to see how both Leicester and Stoke have changed and developed so much. I have fond memories of Stoke, although there are mixed feelings because we could have, and should have, done better than we did.”

David spent two years at Stoke before moving to Peterborough United in March 2000. He helped them to promotion through the play-offs and had two more seasons as a regular in the first team before moving to Oxford in July 2002.

He continued: “I started my coaching badges at Stoke. I wanted to get some coaching badges done whilst I was still playing. One of my reasons for going to Peterborough was because we had spoken about some opportunities to do some coaching, with maybe the younger boys initially whilst I was still playing and then hopefully developing that when my playing career came to an end. I really enjoyed myself at Peterborough. I learnt a lot at Oxford as well.”

After finishing his league career at Oxford United in 2003/2004, David has developed his coaching expertise. He was assistant manager to Phil Robinson at Stafford Rangers and to Gary Mills at Tamworth. He then managed Brackley Town, before returning to Peterborough with Darren Ferguson, where he managed the reserve team and the youth team.

He became the Under-21s coach at West Bromwich Albion in July 2011 when Roy Hodgson was the manager, before becoming head of academy coaching at MK Dons in June 2014. One of his talents was England's Deli Alli. 

David remembered: “I didn’t stay at MK Dons for as long as I anticipated. The opportunity came up to join with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink at Burton. I had known him socially for a few years through my wife. We had kept in touch and had a similar philosophy about playing the game. He was a superstar striker. He was very pragmatic. It was an opportunity to coach the first team which is what I wanted to do. Luckily enough, we did well at Burton. The players responded well and we managed to get promoted. We were doing well the following year as well. We were top of League 1. Then the opportunity to go to QPR came up, Jimmy decided to go and I went with him.”

Since leaving QPR in 2017, David has been assistant manager at Peterborough United and is currently manager of Oxford City.

David has also been involved in supporting the PFA linked charity ‘Children Today’ which helps to give children with disabilities a brighter future.

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