On Tuesday 24 January, Oldham Athletic will throw open its doors to the public and allow entry to the game against Peterborough free of charge.
As there will be a number of people who will take advantage of this offer to make their first visit to Boundary Park or to return after a lengthy period of absence I thought it was worth providing a guide to the place.
Firstly, you will notice that I have just referred to the ground as Boundary Park. You might have read that it has been renamed Sports Direct Dot Com Park. Whilst we are very grateful to Mike Ashley for any cash he may be giving us, it’s called Boundary Park. It has always been called Boundary Park and it always will be. It’s a hell of a mouthful anyway, so just stick with the old school version and blend in.
I would never speak on behalf of anyone else without getting their express permission but as a season ticket holder, I would like to welcome you to Boundary Park and everyone I have spoken to is of the same view. There seems to be a handful of fans who have an issue with people getting in free when we have paid up front. These are few and far between. I want to see Boundary Park full with a great atmosphere. I am fed up with half empty stands. I want you to come, enjoy yourself and come back. If you can help cheer us on to a victory that would be even better.
If you used to come to games, you will remember the car park behind the Broadway stand. You will probably remember that you could drive up, hand over some cash and park on there. You can’t any more. The car park will be half empty, it always is. If you want to hand over your hard earned money to take one of the empty spaces you will be turned away. Don’t ask me why but I am sure there is some bizarre logic in there somewhere. There’s plenty of free parking within a ten minute walk though, so don’t worry about it.
Speaking of that side of the ground, there is a fancy new stand there now. It is supposed to have a supporters’ bar in it, but it hasn’t (though it is has been going to open soon for well over a year so that’s something to look forward to). Despite this it is actually a good stand. There are bars below the stand itself and even TVs where you can check on other scores at half time. Viewing is good and despite the moanings of some, you don’t tend to get wet, especially if you are near the back.
There’s even a fancy bar-code entry system these days though I am guessing that with free entry, you won’t get to experience this cutting edge technology.
You may have heard of the Athleticos who do a good job of trying to create a decent atmosphere. If you fancy getting involved, head for the large section of the Rochdale Road End (now the Jimmy Frizzell stand though you wouldn’t know it). If you have got kids who would like to see Chaddy the Owl and partake in special activities like face painting, you should give the small section of the RRE a try. This is the family stand and you will find yourself with other likeminded parents.
For returning fans, I am afraid the Chaddy End is no longer an option. This is now the away end. It’s a real shame as the heritage of the club has been diluted by that decision but it is what it is so you will need to try somewhere new. You’ll be able to see how much noise the handful of Posh fans will be able to make with those famous acoustics.
I would ask that you try to show some understanding to those of us who go on a regular basis. As I have said, most will be delighted to have you there but we do have our quirks. If you invited me into your home you would probably be a bit miffed if I walked straight into your lounge and sat in your favourite armchair. Likewise, some of us have our favourite seats that we have reserved for the season. Unhelpfully, there aren’t reserved stickers on season ticket seats so you might be asked to move. Many fans won’t be precious over a particular seat but if someone is, just go with it.
As you will, no doubt have seen, we have John Sheridan back in charge. Shez did an amazing job of keeping us up last season and we are all hopeful he can do so again. There’s been a bit of bad press about him over the last few days but as long as you don’t dress like a referee it is unlikely that he will call you a **** and you could always take him some of your unwanted Christmas presents for him to pass on to his kids.
If you want to know who the star players are, it won’t take me long. Connor Ripley is the keeper. He’s on loan from Middleborough and he is fantastic. We’ve got one of the best defensive records in the league and that is largely down to him and our captain Peter Clarke. Clarke is also our top scorer despite being a centre half. Other than that, we have returning heroes in Anthony Gerrard (cousin of the one you have heard of) and Aaron Amadi-Holloway. They were both instrumental in our form in the 2nd half of last season and are back after 6 months away.
I had better address the elephant in the room. Whilst there is a new sense of optimism following the return of Shez, there is a chance (clearly an outside chance) that it might be a bit shit. If it is, please try to get behind the team. Remember that you have been given free tickets so try to give a bit back. Don’t tell everyone around you how bad it is, we already know I promise.
It won’t be though, it will be great. We are on a 1 game winning streak at home and the law of averages suggests that we are due to score a load of goals.
One last thing, some of you will support a different team, heaven forbid, you might even support one that has the word Manchester in it. That’s fine (it’s not, you should support your local team but I will ignore that) but please leave that at home for the evening. There is no reason to tell everyone around who you really support. You are there to support Oldham for the night. It will only lead to people thinking you are a bit of a cock and none of us want that.
Actually, it wasn't the last thing. There will be a minute's applause after 9 minutes for one of our fans, Dot, who passed away at the end of last week. If you could join in it would be much appreciated.
Enjoy the game folks and hopefully we look forward to welcoming you back on Saturday when we entertain Bradford and make it 3 home wins on the bounce.