To say it was chucking it down was an understatement; we were parked up opposite the Navigator’s house in the gloom watching a newly formed fast flowing river cascade down the street and most of the pavement. The drains couldn’t cope with torrent of rain whilst Tesco Pete was in position with the phone zoomed in on his front door. “If he trips and falls in the water as he crosses the road, it’s going straight online,” announced Tesco Pete. Oh, how I’ve missed the camaraderie I thought as the Greetland Shayman chuckled out loud. Suddenly the back door of the car opened, it was the soggy Navigator, scrambling into the dry. He’d come from nowhere and Tesco Pete had missed his chance, mind you he was filming the wrong house!
The rain relented and the weather was transformed as we crossed Pennines; in an instant any thoughts of the game being postponed looked daft as you could see all the way to Runcorn as we made our way down the M62 in the bright evening sunshine. There was a real buzz in the car with constant chatter about the new manager, new players and prospects for the season ahead. The Greetland Shayman had even brought his binoculars and notepad to plan his team and formation of the first league game on Saturday. On our arrival in Oldham the rain started, and it rained like it does on the movies, almost as if someone had a hosepipe high above the stadium. It didn’t stop all night.
Boundary Park is a proper old school football ground with tall floodlights, and complex pathways up and down steps. The player’s entrance into the old main stand isn’t a posh door and reception area, it’s just a hole in the wall directly onto the street that’s covered by a solid blue lump of wood that slides back on rusty iron rails. Inside the ground there is an impressive new stand with function rooms and hospitality area down the side of the pitch named after Joe Royle. The far end has a decent sized covered stand set into the hillside with LATICS written across the blue seats. The old main stand houses the player’s tunnel which unusually is accessed by a good number of steps from pitch level. It has supporting pillars and windshields at either end. The travelling Shaymen were allocated the Chaddy End, a covered stand with a great view down the pitch. Overall the capacity is around 13,000.
The first half was a real game of who done it. An impressive trialist put the Shaymen ahead early in the game but nobody knew his real identity. Tesco Pete was in frenzy and spent time searching the internet whilst other fans enquired about this progress as the half progressed. The Shaymen were playing well too, “Unbelievable, comfortable on the ball, promising, a great left back” were all comments heard amongst the 200 or so travelling supporters.
The second half was more of the same; Oldham didn’t really look like a threat whilst Town passed the ball well and looked comfortable. Before the end of the game Tesco Pete had identified the mystery trialists and was reading aloud their playing histories. There were plenty of substitutions too. The biggest cheer of the night was a rapturous round of applause when the familiar face of Sammi Odelusi came onto the pitch. He was more popular than I’d expected. But when the crowd starting singing “There’s one Josh MacDonald” I realised I must have missed the fact it was a double substitution! Still, Odelusi entertained the crowd with a few slick passes on the soggy surface.
In truth the game wasn’t played at full pace, Oldham had just a few shots on goal and didn’t seem too desperate for an equaliser, but things look really promising for the Shaymen. The final whistle was greeted with a cheer and the refreshing sight of the entire squad and management team on the pitch sharing applause with the travelling fans. It was a good performance and you could see a clear difference to recent seasons.
Driving back to Yorkshire in the heavy rain, thoughts turned to our trip to Ebbsfleet United on Saturday and enthusiasm was high. We lost heavily there last season but the team had shown tonight that the prospects are good for an exciting season and perhaps a good result on Saturday. It’s an early start for us on Saturday morning and an unusual overnight stay in London too as we’ve also got tickets to see Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday. We’re taking Trainspotter John, and that’s going to be a real treat for the residents of London! Although one of us is going to have to share a room with him…
Read more posts by Rob Brown