Did anyone go the circus at Boundary Park over the May Day weekend? Yeah I know we were away at Tranmere. Lol. Bit on the nose, that, wasn’t it? An actual big top circus tent, all lit up, being put up directly behind the ground, almost as soon as our relegation was confirmed? Too much, lads. (I guess the same could be said of the Plane Comedy nights at the OEC, but they’re really good, you should check them out.)
I bought a ticket for Tranmere when they went on sale, in a happier, more innocent time, when I thought we might be safe by then and I might want to go. In the end I decided that staying in the pub in Liverpool was a much more attractive prospect than travelling to Birkenhead, watching us play like utter dogshit while being goaded by the Tranmere fans, and then being kettled by the police. Had a lovely afternoon. Then on the way home, a young lad who’d been the game challenged Andy to down his can in one, then when Andy gave him a can to do the same, he puked up all over the tram. I can only offer my sincere apologies to whichever poor sod had to clean it up. I hope that young man has learned a valuable lesson.
Onto our last game in the Football League for the foreseeable future, then. Given what we’ve been put through this season (obviously we’ve been through near-relentless misery for about 3 decades, but especially this season), you might think the club might want to reward the fans, maybe compensate us a little for the endless ocean of shit we’ve been dragged through. You might think that, if you’d had no experience of, read nothing about, or heard nothing about Oldham Athletic. In a clearly-Barry-Owen-written club statement (STOP! STATEMENT TIME!), they announced on Wednesday, three days before the match, that there would be no pay-on-the-day for the Crawley game, tickets would have to be bought before midnight on Thursday, no further tickets could be bought for the North Stand, and no alcohol would be sold inside the ground. They also reminded us that “it is still a criminal offence to enter the field of play as well as to throw objects onto it”, downgrading it from the “serious criminal offence” they claimed it was less than two weeks ago.
Given the peaceful protest on the pitch at the Salford game, this isn’t that much of a surprise. Lots of us were half-expecting the match to be behind closed doors. The lack of alcohol in the ground might be a blessing for some of us, given that they haven’t sold wine in the Rocky for years, and pissy lager and malfunctioning toilets are not a good combination (why yes, I am quite the little princess, demanding both a bar that sells wine and toilets with running water). How exactly are the measures they’ve announced going to stop a pitch invasion, though? The people most likely to be prevented from going to the game by making it all-ticket are older people who don’t go to every game, pay on the day as and when they feel like going, and might not read the internet. I’ve no idea why the club think it’s important to limit the amount of people in the North Stand, but I think I can guess, and I suspect it’s fuck all to do with safety. And it’s quite frankly insulting to infer that the people (overwhelmingly teenagers) who ran on the pitch to make a point with the banner did so because they were pissed.
There was nothing in the statement about closing off any parts of the North Stand, so I was a little surprised, when passing the ground on Wednesday, to see that the seats in the block nearest the Chaddy End appeared to have been covered. I’m sure that if you have a season ticket in one of those seats and the club expects you to move on Saturday, they will of course have contacted you as a matter of courtesy to inform you of this. We’re a professional football club. We do things in the right way here.
On Thursday, the OASF issued a statement saying they had contacted Oldham Council, and “The Council were clear that the Safety Advisory Group has not imposed any measures on the club”. The actions the club have taken have got nothing to do with safety and everything to do with belligerence, stubbornness and attempting to save face and deflect blame. They want to silence you. Don’t let them. Get down to the main entrance before the game on Saturday and make your voices heard loud and clear. This regime is killing the club. We’re going to save it. Keep the pressure on them to keep to their word and get out. They apparently don’t want your money inside the ground, so don’t give it to them. Give it to the bucket collection outside, and think very carefully about whether you really want to fund this owner any further. We’re going down, and sugar, we’re going down singing.