OXFORD United players won some big smiles and dropped a few presents on their annual visit to Oxford Children’s Hospital.

The team came bearing gifts yesterday for children who will be spending their Christmas this year on a ward.

Gifts such as colouring books, Lego and toy cars had been donated by football fans as well as the footballers themselves.

Peter Rhoades-Brown, business development manager and ex-United player, said this was his 35th Christmas visit to the hospital.

He said: “I used to visit when I was a player myself and when I retired, I continued. I want to continue making children happy, especially at this time of the year.”

United captain John Mousinho said bringing the team to the hospital was a great way to interact with the community that they play for.

He said: “It’s the one visit that everyone can count on to uplift the children. We can never imagine what these young children are going through so it’s important that we meet them. Our wages come from the community and this is one of the ways that we can give something back.”

Archie Penny, a 17-year-old boy from Chipping Norton, has been a patient at the children’s hospital for more than a month.

His mum Josephine said she was grateful for the visit, especially as family had not been in yesterday.

She said: “It’s lovely, it’s really nice that they have come round to spend time with children who are not feeling the best. When children are not feeling good it’s nice for people from the outside who are able bodied to visit them.

“The hospital isn’t a scary place: people don’t want to visit the hospital because they are afraid of illness but for a disabled person, it makes a huge difference to be visited.

“It was great that the footballers came today because Archie hadn’t seen any other family, and he always loves visits.”

Some children even got to play a little football with some the players.

Striker Jon Obika, who has been playing for the team over the past two seasons but is currently out of action recovering from a knee injury, said: “It’s so good to see them smile.

"We understand what it’s like to look up to someone and I’m glad I can be a part of that.”