Family and friends of the late Oxford United legend Joey Beauchamp have purchased a greyhound which will run in his honour when racing returns to Oxford Stadium next month.
Oi Oi Joey will be based with highly respected greyhound trainer Richard Baker at his kennels in Oxfordshire and run for The Joey Beauchamp Syndicate.
The syndicate is made up of 25 of Joey’s closest members of family and friends, who have each contributed towards purchasing the greyhound ahead of Oxford Stadium’s first fixture in almost a decade next month.
Paul Woodburn, one of Joey’s closest friends, is the man behind the syndicate and purchased Oi Oi Joey after he won impressively on debut by nine lengths at Limerick Greyhound Stadium in Ireland.
“Joey came alive at Oxford Stadium,” said Paul. “Football was his career, but greyhound racing was his passion and if we can cheer on Oi Oi Joey with half of Joey’s enthusiasm then we’ll be onto a winner.
“Joey and I would travel straight from his Saturday fixture with Oxford United to the dogs, that’s how much he loved the sport. We both owned greyhounds from a young age and shared our passion for racing together.
“Oi Oi Joey is a fitting name – it’s what Joey would shout at the top of his voice from the Oxford Stadium terraces when one of his greyhounds crossed the line in front.
“It’s devastating what happened, but hopefully Oi Oi Joey can do us proud and create new memories for everyone who misses him so very much.”
The 18-month-old dog made his first visit to the Cowley venue to mark the launch of the Joey Beauchamp Bar inside the stadium’s main grandstand.
The bar has been adorned in Oxford United memorabilia and photos of Joey and opened its doors to the public for the first time on Monday, July 18. It will remain open for all upcoming greyhound racing and speedway fixtures.
Joey’s brothers Luke and Mark joined their father and Joey’s two daughters to cut the ribbon at a private celebration.
“It’s been a really challenging few months for everybody,” said Luke. “Joey was always attending meetings at Oxford Stadium and it’s really fitting the team has decided to open the Joey Beauchamp Bar in his honour to keep Joey’s name alive.
“I really wish Joey could’ve seen the huge outpouring of love from the Oxford and wider footballing communities. He grew up in Oxford, played for his local team and enjoyed nothing more than a night at the dogs with his friends and family.”