Oldham Athletic A.F.C.
|Full name||Oldham Athletic Association Football Club|
|Founded||1895, as Pine Villa F.C.|
|2017–18||League One, 21st of 24 (relegated)|
Oldham Athletic Association Football Club (nicknamed Latics) is a professional association football club based in the town of Oldham, Greater Manchester, England. The team compete in League Two, the fourth tier of English football, and play home matches at Boundary Park.
The history of Oldham Athletic A.F.C. begins with the founding of Pine Villa F.C. in 1895, playing in the Manchester and Lancashire leagues. When rivals Oldham County F.C. folded in 1899, Pine Villa F.C. moved into their stadium and changed their name to Oldham Athletic. They were Football League runners-up in the 1914–15 season but were relegated from the Football League First Division in 1923. They reached the 1990 Football League Cup Final and won the Football League Second Division title in 1991, ending 68 years outside the top tier of English football. They secured their top division status a year later to become founder members of the new Premier League but were relegated in 1994.
Pine Villa Football Club was formed in 1895, though the club changed its appearance and name in 1899 to Oldham Athletic Football Club. The club immediately gained professional status and played in both the Lancashire Combination and Lancashire League. Unlike many clubs, Oldham Athletic gained quick success and gained acceptance into the Football League in 1907–08. After three years in the Second Division, Latics gained promotion to the First Division.
Within a couple of seasons, Oldham had announced themselves serious contenders, finishing 4th in the league in 1912–13, and reaching the F.A. Cup semi-finals the same season, losing out 1–0 versus Aston Villa. In 1914–15, Latics reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup but were knocked out once again after a 0–3 replay against Sheffield United. In the league that season they almost won it all; Latics lost the league by one point, as close as they have ever come to winning the league. Latics early success was only halted by the First World War.
Following the return of competitive football after the First World War, Oldham Athletic struggled to find their early success before they returned to the Second Division in 1923 – it would be another 68 years before they played top division football again.
Many of the players from their former squads had either retired from football or had been killed in the war. Their highest success came in the 1929–30 season as they finished in 3rd, missing out on promotion by finishing two points behind Chelsea F.C. From then on they slowly but surely fell down the league table, until a final placing of 21st at the end of the 1934–35 season saw them relegated to the Third Division North. They found life in this new division much more to their liking, coming 7th in their first season and following this with three seasons in the top five. Promotion back to the Second Division looked like it might just be a possibility, but the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 brought an end to League Football. Players' contracts were terminated, and relying largely on guest players, the club was to play in the war-time Northern League until August 1946.
Following the return of competitive football there was to be no immediate success for Oldham Athletic. They finished 19th in the first league season after the war and manager Frank Womack resigned. In spite of reaching a more respectable 6th place under his successor Billy Wooton in 1949, it wasn't until the appointment of George Hardwick as player-manager in November 1950 that the club found any real form.
Hardwick's appointment came at a cost, with a £15,000 transfer fee paid to Middlesbrough. This was a huge amount at the time, especially for a third division club, but it was to stir up the town and its fans, who now looked forward to seeing a man who had been captain of England only two years previously in charge of its club's fortunes. In Hardwick's first full season in charge they finished 4th after topping the table for a considerable time. Home gates stayed high, with an amazing 33,450 watching a 1–0 win over local rivals Stockport County in March 1952, after a January game in the snow had established a new club scoring record when Chester were beaten 11–2. Eric Gemmell scored seven of these to establish an individual club record for one game which still stands to date. The season after, Oldham Athletic proudly finished champions of the division and won promotion to the Second Division. With an ageing squad and little money to recruit however, the season that followed was a massive disappointment. Only eight games were won, Oldham finished in last place and quickly returned to the Third Division North, where a first equally disappointing season saw them finish no higher than 10th.
Hardwick resigned in 1955 and between then and 1960, they continued to struggle, finishing below the top 20 on three occasions. With a 15th-place finish in 1958–59, Oldham became a founding member of a newly formed Fourth Division. In the following season they finished in the 23rd position – their lowest position in the entire League, and had to apply for reelection, which they passed as the League chose to drop Gateshead, who had finished above them, in favour of newcomers Peterborough United.
Ken Bates entered the picture at Oldham Athletic in the early 1960s, and along with the appointment of manager Jack Rowley, the club's fortunes turned for the better. During the 1962–63 season, Oldham Athletic again gained promotion to the Third Division as Rowley left as manager. Over the next six seasons, Oldham struggled with consistency in the league and at the manager position—with Les McDowall, Gordon Hurst and Jimmy McIlroy all spending time at the managerial position.
In the 1968–69, Jack Rowley once more returned as manager. With their inconsistency, Rowley and Bates could not save the club from a last place finish and inevitable relegation. Midway through the 1969–70 season, Rowley and Bates both left the club as Jimmy Frizzell became the Latics manager—a position he held for the next 13 seasons.
Frizzell and Royle eras
Jimmy Frizzell, a Scottish-born defender, became Oldham's player-manager during the 1969–70 season. In the 1970–71 season, Oldham saw their best result since 1962–63 as they finished in third place, earning promotion back to the Third Division. After a mid-table finish in their first season, Latics missed out on promotion—finishing in 4th place, seven points behind local rivals and league champions Bolton Wanderers. In the 1973–74 season, Latics finished in 1st place and return to the Second Division for the first time in 21 years. Oldham's trip back to the Second Division was far more successful than their previous visit. During Frizzell's remaining time at the club, Latics remained in the Second Division, but with little FA Cup and Football League Cup success.
In June 1982, the club appointed Joe Royle as manager and a new era was underway. Royle's side finished 7th in his first season in charge, but fell to 19th in his second. In the 1986–87 season, Oldham narrowly missed promotion to the First Division finishing three points behind Portsmouth and losing in the inaugural playoffs to Leeds United, when previous seasons would have seen them automatically promoted.
Royle's Latics reached Wembley Stadium in the 1990 Football League Cup Final versus Nottingham Forest, where they lost 1–0. The next season, Oldham did not have the same cup success, but instead found success by winning the Second Division and returning to First Division for the first time in 68 years. In their first season back in the top flight, the club finished 17th and became one of the founding members of the newly formed Premier League. After two further seasons at the top level, Oldham faced relegation yet again and during the following season, the Joe Royle era at Oldham Athletic came to an end, as he left the club for Everton.
During this era, Oldham Athletic reached the FA Cup semi-finals twice, both times losing to Manchester United after a replay. In 1994 Oldham Athletic were less than a minute away from winning 1–0 in extra time when a Mark Hughes equaliser for Manchester United saw the game at Wembley Stadium end in a 1–1 draw, and Oldham were crushed 4–1 in the replay at Maine Road. Many fans of Oldham in the years since have described the last minute equaliser by Mark Hughes the start of a decline that Oldham have never recovered from. Oldham failed to win any of their seven remaining league games following the semi final and were relegated on the final day of the season after a 1–1 draw at Norwich City.
Oldham's side of the late 1980s and early 1990s featured several players who were then sold to bigger clubs. Mike Milligan, a highly rated young Irish midfielder who was a product of Oldham's youth system, was sold to Everton for £1,000,000 in 1990, but returned to Boundary Park a year later after an unsuccessful season on Merseyside. At the same time, Oldham sold Milligan's fellow countryman Denis Irwin to Manchester United for £625,000, and over the next 12 years the Cork born defender won a host of domestic and European honours. Earl Barrett, another defender who played a crucial part in Oldham's cup runs and promotion success, was sold to Aston Villa for £1,700,000 in February 1992. At the time he was one of Britain's most expensive defenders, and would go on to win a League Cup winner's medal at Aston Villa (just missing out on a title medal) as well as playing more than 200 top division games before finally retiring in 2000.
Graeme Sharp took over as Oldham's player-manager on the departure of Joe Royle in November 1994, but he was unable to mount a promotion challenge and the pressure continued to build up a year later when Oldham narrowly avoided relegation. Relegation to Division Two happened at the end of the 1996–97 season, just after Sharp had resigned to be succeeded by Neil Warnock.
As one of the biggest clubs in Division Two for 1997–98, and being managed by Warnock who had achieved no less than five promotions with other clubs in the last 11 years, Oldham Athletic were tipped for an immediate return to Division One, but they finished a disappointing 13th in the league and Warnock resigned. Veteran striker Andy Ritchie took over as player-manager, but he too failed to mount a promotion challenge and was sacked in October 2001 to be succeeded by Mick Wadsworth.
In 2001, Oxford based businessman Chris Moore purchased Oldham Athletic, vowing to take the club back to Premier League football within five years. Wadsworth quit as manager in the summer of 2002 to make way for Iain Dowie, who transformed Oldham's fortunes on the pitch as they made their first serious challenge for promotion in Division Two. Oldham finished fifth and their promotion dreams were ended in the playoffs, and their fans were furious when Moore decided to end his interest with the club—leaving behind large debts and a weak squad, and after selling the better players at a fraction of their market value at the time. For a while it looked as though the club would go out of business, but a takeover deal was soon completed.
In 2004–05, Simon Blitz and two other partners, Simon Corney and Danny Gazal, purchased Oldham Athletic, trying to rescue the club from possible liquidation. While trying to repay debts, Oldham struggled for several seasons—barely avoiding relegation once more in 2004–05. In the 2006–07, Oldham's fortune turned for the better once more as the club narrowly missed out on promotion—losing to Blackpool 5–2 on aggregate in the play-off semi-final. After two years with the club, manager John Sheridan was sacked on 15 March 2009, immediately being replaced by former manager Joe Royle. After being offered the job on a permanent basis, Royle rejected the offer and announced that he would be leaving the club after the final game of the season. Darlington F.C. boss Dave Penney was announced as Royle's successor on 30 April 2009, though Royle still was in charge until season's end.
Dave Penney was dismissed as Oldham manager on 6 May 2010, with his assistant, Martin Gray, taking over as caretaker manager for the final game of season 2009–10. During June 2010, Paul Dickov was named as Oldham Athletic player-manager signing a one-year contract. On 3 February 2013, he left his role as manager despite having recently knocked Liverpool out of the FA Cup the previous week. On 18 March, the club hired Lee Johnson to become the newest manager and, at the time of his appointment, was the youngest manager in the Football League at 31 years old. The club narrowly avoided relegation for the 2012–13 season, finishing 19th and just three points above the drop zone. The club fared better in Johnson's second season, finishing mid-table at 15th.
In January 2015, it was reported that Oldham was attempting to sign Ched Evans, an accused rapist. The move faced a significant public backlash, even from politicians, while a petition against the signing gained 60,000 signatures and Verlin Rainwater Solutions withdrew club sponsorship. Oldham ultimately decided not to sign Evans due to "unbearable pressure" while condemning the "vile and abusive threats, some including death threats, which have been made to our fans, sponsors and staff".
As of January 2018, Moroccan football agent Abdallah Lemsagam agreed a deal with the club's majority shareholder Simon Corney, which ends his 14-year association with Oldham Athletic. Corney bought the club along with Danny Gazal and Simon Blitz in 2004, saving the club from potential liquidation. Gazal and Blitz left in 2010, with Corney staying as majority shareholder.
Lemsagam currently owns 97 per cent of the football club, while the Supporters Trust maintain their 3 per cent stake. The takeover does not include Boundary Park's North Stand which the club do not own but have use of on matchdays. Oldham have faced a number of winding-up orders in the two years prior to this deal for non-payment of their tax bills and saw their ground raided by HMRC in November 2017.
Oldham Athletic were relegated to League Two on 5 May 2018.
- As of 26 July 2018
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Out on loan
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Oldham Athletic have a ladies team who play in the Greater Manchester Women's Football League.
Board of Directors
- Chairman: Abdallah Lemsagam
- Chief Executive: Vacant
- Directors: Simon Brooke
- Company Accountant: Grace Nuttall
- Football Secretary: Richard Cooper
- Head of Media: Luke Ingram
- Media Executive: Clyde Connolly
- Head of Commercial: Ian Laithwaite
- Commercial Executive: Simon Brooke
- Ticket Office Manager: Robbie Higgs
- HR/Accounts: Thomas Matley
- Stadium & Events Manager: Rob Smyth
Notable former managers
In the history of the club, only three managers have won a league title: George Hardwick (Division 3 North, 1953), Jimmy Frizzell (Division 3, 1974) and Joe Royle (Division 2, 1991). Frizzell also won promotion from Division 4 in 1971 (3rd place), as did Jack Rowley from the runners-up spot in 1963.
However, arguably the most successful manager in the club's history is David Ashworth. Appointed in 1906, he guided them to the Lancashire Combination Championship and promotion to the Football League in his first season. In 1910, after just three seasons in Division 2, they finished in second place and won promotion to the top flight of English football. For the next four years Ashworth maintained the club's smooth progress. They finished season 1913–14 in 4th place, only for Ashworth to move to Stockport County, leaving his successor Herbert Bamlett to take the team to its best ever league placing the season after, when they finished runners-up to Everton, missing out on the League Championship by just one point.
Meanwhile, at the end of World War 1, Ashworth emerged as manager of Liverpool, guiding them to the League Championship in 1921–22, after they had finished 4th in his previous two seasons. Although he then took what seemed to many to be a strange decision, moving back to Oldham in a brave but failed attempt to save them from relegation in 1923, he remains the only Oldham Athletic manager ever to have won the Football League Championship with any club.
After playing at what was originally called Athletic Ground, Boundary Park was opened for Oldham's first football club—Oldham County F.C. In 1899, after County had folded, Pine Villa moved into the ground and renamed the club and stadium. The stadium is located on the Oldham side of the conjunction of Oldham, Chadderton and Royton, and has a current capacity of 13,512. Before the demolition of the north stand in 2008, the stadium had a capacity of 13,624. The new north stand has recently opened with many new facilities available. This was done in a bid to gain extra revenue in a troubled cash stricken period for the club since Moore's departure.
In February 2006, the club unveiled plans for reconstruction of the stadium. After initially being rejected by Oldham Council, the decision was overturned with permission for the entire ground to be redeveloped. The ground was expected to seat at least 16,000 and cost approximately £80 million. On 5 September 2008, Simon Blitz announced on World Soccer Daily podcast that due to the economic problems in England, the development of the stadium was placed on hold temporarily.
On 22 July 2009, the club and Oldham Council unveiled plans for an entirely new, £20 million stadium to be located in Failsworth. The club made an agreement with BAE Systems to purchase a 30-acre (120,000 m2) piece of land, on which the club plans to build an initial 12,000 capacity arena along with other leisure and corporate facilities. Oldham Council initially backed the plans for the new stadium after Council chiefs voted in favour of pushing forward with a land deal, but later offered the club £5.7 million to help with the redevelopment of Boundary Park, which would involve building a new North Stand on the site of the former Broadway Stand.
Initial preparatory work began on the site for the new North Stand at Boundary Park in mid-May 2013. The stand has a 2,671 capacity for spectators and contains various other non-matchday facilities such as a health and fitness suite and supporters bar. The new North Stand partially opened against Sheffield United on 17 October 2015, with maximum capacity operation and corporate facilities in use on 26 December 2015 vs. Doncaster Rovers.
Support and rivalries
Notable Oldham Athletic fans include comedy duo Cannon and Ball, professor Brian Cox, Ex-Manchester United footballer Paul Scholes, This Morning Presenter Phillip Schofield, Ex- Leeds Rhinos and England rugby captain Kevin Sinfield, The Courteeners rhythm guitarist Daniel "Conan" Moores, glamour model Michelle Marsh, Hollyoaks star Alex Carter and comedian Eric Sykes.
Boundary Park is less than 10 miles (16 km) from the nearby stadiums of Rochdale, Manchester City, Bury and Manchester United, with the stadiums of Stockport County, Huddersfield Town, Halifax Town, Burnley, Bolton Wanderers, Accrington Stanley and Blackburn Rovers all within a 20-mile (32 km) radius.
Although some of their more traditional local rivals such as Bolton Wanderers, Huddersfield Town, Blackburn Rovers and Stockport County are no longer regular opponents, the Latics have maintained rivalry with near neighbours Rochdale and Bury.
Dislike for Manchester United and Manchester City is also common and often eclipses more traditional rivalries amongst Oldham supporters. This is largely fuelled by Oldham's proximity to Manchester, with a sizeable number of people in the borough choosing to support one of the Manchester clubs rather than their local club. The dislike for Manchester United was also partly fuelled by the FA Cup Semi Final meetings in 1990 and 1994, of which Oldham lost both in a replay.
Conversely, Oldham Athletic have a long-standing supporters friendship with Eintracht Frankfurt of Germany. Eintracht Frankfurt have a small following who often make the journey to Oldham Athletic games at Boundary Park.
Latics originally started out playing in red and white hooped shirts with blue shorts, bearing strong similarities to the Oldham Rugby League Club colours. The red stripes were eventually replaced with blue, before this was in turn replaced by a white shirt with the blue stripe down the middle, this shirt was rumoured to have been influenced by the Ajax shirt of the times. In the mid-1960s, under the ownership of Ken Bates, the strip was changed to tangerine shirts with blue shorts. In the mid-1970s the club adopted an all blue shirt, and these colours have been worn ever since, with the exception of the red and blue hooped shirt that was used the late 1990s. This shirt proved unpopular amongst supporters and caused kit clashing problems, resulting in opposition teams occasionally having to wear Oldham's away kit. The club brought back the colours from the 1960s as an away kit for the 2007–08 season and this proved to be popular amongst the supporters. Home and away shirts currently bear the slogan "keep the faith" as a result of the financial turmoil the club faced in 2004. On 27 April, it was announced on a new website set up by the club (wearelatics.co.uk) that there was to be a new crest for the club. This new badge was shown on the new away kit for the 2011–12 season, and was introduced to the home kit for the following season. The badge contains the traditional blue and white colours, however there is no longer any red visible; there is still an image of an owl, yet it is no longer on top of a football.
- Football League First Division (tier 1)
- Runners–up (1): 1914–15
- Football League Second Division (tier 2)
- Football League Third Division North / Football League Third Division (tier 3)
- Football League Fourth Division (tier 4)
- Runners–up (1): 1962–63
- Lancashire Combination
- Champions (1): 1906–07
- Record League victory: 11–0 vs. Southport, Division 4, Boundary Park, 26 December 1962
- Record FA Cup victory: 10–1 vs. Lytham, 1st Round, Boundary Park, 28 November 1925
- Record League Cup victory: 7–0 vs. Scarborough, 2nd Round, Boundary Park, 25 October 1989
- Record League defeat: 4–13 vs. Tranmere Rovers, Division 3 (North), Prenton Park, 26 December 1935
- Record FA Cup defeat: 0–6 vs. Huddersfield Town, 3rd Round, Leeds Road, 13 January 1932 and 0–6 vs. Tottenham Hotspur, 3rd Round, White Hart Lane, 14 January 1933
- Record League Cup defeat: 1–7 vs. Sunderland, League Cup, 2nd Round, Roker Park, 24 September 1962
- Record home attendance: 47,671 vs. Sheffield Wednesday, FA Cup, 4th Round, Boundary Park, 25 January 1930
- Record home league attendance: 45,304 vs. Blackpool, Division 2, Boundary Park 21 April 1930
- Longest unbeaten league run: 20 league games between 1 May 1990 and 17 November 1990 League 2
- Most League appearances: 525 Ian Wood, 1966–1980
- Most overall appearances: 582 Ian Wood, 1966–1980
- Most League goals: 141 Roger Palmer, 1980–1994
- Most overall goals: 156 Roger Palmer, 1980–1994
- Most League goals in a season: 33 Tom Davis, Division 3 (North), 1936–37
- Most capped player: 25 Gunnar Halle – Norway, 1991–1996
- Record transfer fee paid: £750,000 Ian Olney, Aston Villa, June 1992
- Record transfer fee received: £1,700,000 Earl Barrett, Aston Villa, February 1992
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- "New North Stand - News - Oldham Athletic". OldhamAthletic.co.uk. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
- Oldham Athletic official website
- Trust Oldham (Supporters Trust)
- Oldham Athletic Mad
- Oldham Athletic Books (Oldham Athletic: On This Day & Oldham Athletic: Miscellany)
- Independent media sites