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Good times for a change?

What a week, comrades. What. A. Fucking. Week. And I thought Sunday was going to be the feel-good story.

If you ignore every other word of this blog, please take this one piece of advice: if, while drunk on a Saturday night, you volunteer to be a match steward the following day, drink some water. Or some coke that doesn’t have vodka in it. Don’t continue slamming drinks for another couple of hours. Thankfully the food at Avro is as good as everyone says, and the halloumi wraps were an ideal hangover cure.

The day kicked off with Mancunian Unity taking on Brookvale United, who travelled over from Runcorn, all credit to them. It was a resounding 7-0 win for Mancunian Unity, despite Brookvale’s keeper having a great game. I didn’t get to see much of the game unfortunately, as I was hanging about in a hi-viz jacket pretending to be useful.  Celeb-spotting the legends as they were arriving was good fun, although I considered asking a senior steward to throw Andy out for staring at Michelle Marsh.

The main aim of the day was to raise money for the 1895 fund, and the tremendous efforts of everyone involved in organising it paid off. The programmes sold out in no time, the Rebel Scum and Pulling Up Plants t shirts were as popular as they deserved to be, and I’m told that a few people paid well over the admission price on the gate. It was great to see so many young kids enjoying themselves – God knows there’s not been much at Boundary Park in recent years to tempt youngsters away from City and United, despite the Community Trust’s best efforts, so hopefully Sunday might have helped win them over.

The game itself was, as expected, hilarious. Any one of the Legends would still walk into our current first team and be the best player in it by far. Jason Jarrett has clearly got a Dorian Gray-style painting in his attic because he still looks 25. Jonathan Forte was frighteningly good and was subbed at half-time out of pity. He ended up coming back on, though – special mention to Dr Tully, whose ‘reward’ for looking after the sickest patients at the hospital throughout the pandemic was getting to carry Clyde Wijnhard off injured. Richie Wellens was a magnificent shithouse – at one point in the first half he gave his shirt to some random lad in the crowd and sent him on to play, and in the second half he flicked the Vs at Andy and told him to fuck off. The referee played his part, giving the fans’ team a pretty dubious penalty, and the rule seemed to be “If you can get near enough to the Legends then good on you, you can foul them”. Suzanne Geldard reported in the Oldham Times that it ended 18-2; I’ll have to take her word for it, I stopped counting at 6-0.

The party continued afterwards with the raffle and auction, and Kev Williams DJing. The Lancaster Club isn’t there anymore, because we drank it. No wonder Avro have offered everyone who was there free season tickets. I thought the PTB and OASF lads were just celebrating a good day of fundraising. Little did I know. Big shout out to Billy, who travelled over from Galway, played for the fans’ team, then had a drink with us after and bought us a curry. Hope you’ve recovered, mate.

It felt like a real celebration, and rightly so. Everyone involved should be immensely proud of what they achieved. 1267 turned out for the game and thousands of pounds were raised, and there was a sense of unity and pride that we haven’t felt in the club for quite some time. What an amazing day. The week could only go downhill from there, right?

I can’t have been the only person who, once they’d established that Suzanne Geldard’s Twitter hadn’t been hacked and it wasn’t a hoax story, had to go into the toilets at work to have a little cry on Thursday afternoon. The one piece of news we wanted to hear, the one thing we’ve been fighting for at least three years. Oldham Athletic, and Boundary Park, are to be sold to a “longstanding successful local business”, coming under single ownership. The funds are in place and the aim is to complete the sale in less than four weeks. We’ve all read plenty of club statements over the last five years, and this one has definitely been my favourite. It seems too good to be true. I desperately hope it is true. We were all braced for the legal action to drag out for months, for no one to make a formal offer until that was over and done with, for the negotiations and due diligence and fit and proper person tests to take ages. And now we’re being told we might have a new owner in place for the start of the season. Push The Boundary and OASF (who both say they don’t know who the buyer is but they’ve been sitting on this news since Sunday so who know what the sneaky fuckers actually know) are both very happy and optimistic after meeting with Darren Royle, who has been brokering the deal. Mike Keegan and Suzanne Geldard are both saying it’s good news. And they’ve all said that Barry hasn’t been involved in it. Maybe we’re finally getting a break. Lord knows it would be the first time.

So many questions. Who is the mystery buyer? What is ‘The Georgian’ and why are so many of its customers desperate for it to be the longstanding successful local business that’s buying the club? How soon can the takeover be completed? Is the 1895 Fund now being shunted into Matt Dean’s wardrobe fund?

The champagne isn’t getting opened yet (I may have had a few proseccos on Thursday, mind), but, whisper it, the end of the nightmare may be in sight. And we should all congratulate ourselves on making this happen.  Push the Boundary, OASF, everyone who boycotted, everyone who came to the protests, everyone who threw tennis balls [THE BOUNDARY PARK ALERT SYSTEM DOES NOT CONDONE VERY SERIOUS CRIMINAL ACTS LIKE THIS], everyone who wrote or posted something to highlight our plight, everyone who came on Sunday, everyone who donated to or raised funds for the 1895 fund, the whole Rebel Alliance. Victory is in sight, and it’s OUR victory. We put pressure on the Lemsagams, we made it a huge news story, we made it untenable for them to stay, we made it clear that OUR club is worth saving. We’re getting our Oldham back, and if and when the deal goes through, I’ll be outside Boundary Park with a bottle of fizz and my credit card, asking if I can buy a season ticket. Join me, won’t you?

 Written by Arlene Finnigan. Photo by OASF.


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