Running an eye over Oldham Athletic
Oldham’s start to this season has been odd. They have performed remarkably away from home, with more points and more victories on the road than any other club in the division (6 wins, 2 draws and 2 losses). It has been 8 defeats in their 11 home games that have kept Oldham in the lower reaches of the table. If their home form had matched their away form, they would be top of the league. Only Exeter (with 40) can better Oldham’s 33 goals scored this season in League 2.
Their away scalps have included Exeter, Bradford, Cambridge and, most recently, Newport. Oldham are clearly a force to be reckoned with when they are not at home. No team in League 2 has had fewer draws than Oldham this season!
Oldham are managed by the former Leeds and Liverpool striker, Harry Kewell. The Australian came to Oldham in 2020 after managing Crawley Town and following his dismissal by Notts County (after just 10 weeks in charge at the club). In 2012 Kewell was named in Australia as their finest footballer ever.
Oldham haven’t hesitated to ring the managerial changes in recent years. Kewell, who was appointed in August 2020, is the 12th different man the Latics have had in charge since Lee Johnson left in February 2015. Nobody has lasted a whole season since then.
Oldham’s danger men include this season’s top scorer, the left sided forward Conor McAleny (No 18) and centre forward Danny Rowe (No 9). McAleny, who was at Everton early in his career, has netted 9 times in the league this season. Attacking midfielder, Dylan Bahamboula (No 24) has provided the most assists.
On a hill where you can see the centre of Manchester, Oldham play at Boundary Park, the 3rd highest ground in the EFL. At 160 metres above sea level, only The New Lawn (162m) and The Hawthorns (168m) are higher. Boundary Park is so-called as it lies on the north-western boundary of Oldham.
Oldham have more local rivals than most. The stadiums of Rochdale Salford City, Huddersfield, Burnley, Bolton, Accrington, Blackburn & (until their expulsion from the league) Bury are all EFL teams within a 20 mile radius. Most Oldham supporters see Rochdale as their chief rivals these days but these rivalries are often eclipsed by hatred of two other teams who play less than 10 miles away – Manchester United and Manchester City.
In their history over the last 100 years Oldham have spent most of their time in the 2nd and 3rd tiers of the EFL. This is their 3rd spell in the 4th tier – they had a few seasons around 1960 and a short spell around 1970. After the latter there were under the stewardship of two of their longest serving managers – Jimmy Frizzell and Joe Royle. Their fortunes culminated in 3 seasons in the Premier League in the early 1990’s. Joe Royle moved to manage Everton and, since that time, it’s been mostly downhill.
The town of Oldham, at its peak, was the most productive cotton-spinning mill town in the world. But the industry declined during the 20th century and the last mill closed in 1998. Today, its population of over 100,00 is mostly residential.
Famous Oldhamers (as people from Oldham are called) include presenters Phillip Schofield and Nick Grimshaw, actors Eric Sykes, Christopher Biggins, Bernard Cribbins, Dora Bryan, soap stars Shobna Gulati and Anne Kirkbride, physicist and science educator Brian Cox, and comedy duo Cannon & Ball. The town was also home to the bands Inspiral Carpets, N-Trance and Barclay James Harvest, as well as Take That’s Mark Owen.