‘What is that all about? There’s no need for it’ I turned and said to my mate after a Carabao Cup defeat in mid August. Oldham Athletic had beaten Tranmere at Boundary Park and I believed that their pitch invasion was a way of celebrating, when nothing had been won. However, it’s since emerged that these pitch invasions are a demonstration of Latics frustrations at their owner. Thus, I really wanted to pick the brain of someone who knew all about the club’s on and off pitch matters from a fans perspective.
@PaddyNoWheels agreed to answer five questions on the club he supports for ‘EthanHoijord.com’ and left no stone unturned as he gave a passionately scaving review.
How long have you been an Oldham Athletic supporter and how was you first introduced to the club?
I’ve been a Latics fan since birth, my first real memories are the season we were relegated from the Premier League in the 93/94 season.
What are the greatest and lowest moments that you’ve experienced following the Latics?
The greatest moments I have had since following the Latics have been in the FA Cup; beating Man City (2005), Everton (2008), Forest (2013), Liverpool (2013) and Fulham (2019). The lowest moments seem to happen on an almost weekly moment these days, although I have to say losing 3-0 at home to Barrow in a Division Four match is about as bleak as it has ever been.
From a distance, the club seems to be in a poor position at the moment considering the problems that you are facing with the ownership. How long has he been in charge of Oldham and why are fans against him and what he has done thus far?
He officially took over in January 2018 but, in reality, he was involved with the club since the previous August. Oldham fans are against him because his whole reign at the football club has been a disaster. We were relegated in his first season, he has appointed his brother as a Sporting Director despite a revolving door of dreadful signings, all of which his brother has been involved in. We have had disputes with key players since he took over; Jack Byrne, Anthony Gerrard, Craig Davies, David Wheater, Gary Woods, Ousmane Fane, Danny Gardner immediately come to mind. We have been through 9 managers, including one (Pete Wild) who turned it down to go to Halifax because he didn’t want to work under these guys. We are one of only three teams in our division under a transfer embargo due to taking out an EFL loan, which means we can only sign players on one year deals; something which the club forgot when they tried to sign Jayson Leutwiler on a two year deal and then were completely aghast when the EFL wouldn’t approve it. The protests this season have really helped in terms of bringing the situation into the media spotlight; the reality is that nothing is particularly going on now that hasn’t been going on for three years, but the Athleticos (group of young Oldham fans) have done a brilliant job getting it highlighted in the media. We have had directors of the club come out on the radio recently and accuse fans of trying to kill the club and this evening we have been treated to a very wordy open letter from Mr Lemsagam in which he does his usual thing of blaming the previous owners, previous staff, the fans (even hinting at there being a racist element to the fans dislike of him). There was a previous 5 year plan, which has clearly been ripped up as he says he is putting together another three year plan to be published soon. The whole football club will benefit from him putting it up for sale and taking his brother with him.
What are your thoughts on the pitch invasions as the fans aim to stir up attention against the way that their club is being run and do you think that fans could do more to get him out of the club? In the long term, if he does leave, would you be able to give a description of the person/company that you’d like to see as owner?
All for it. It’s not for me as I’m 32 years old now, but I completely applaud these young lads for making a stand. As for a new owner, I’d just be quite happy not to have Abdallah Lemsagam involved anymore; any potential new owner has to be a better option than what we have at the moment. Ideally, we would be looking at someone who has the interests of the football club and town at heart. Oldham Athletic is a big part of the borough and, if Latics are doing well, then the town thrives. The last time it happened really was during the cup run in 2013.
How would you describe the current Oldham squad and what are your hopes for the campaign ahead from a footballing perspective?
They are absolutely rubbish, easily the worst squad I have seen in my lifetime. I am a bit of a football snob and genuinely think we should brush aside any team in Division Four but, after seeing us this season, we are a lot worse than I initially thought we would be. We have lost last season’s goal threat of Conor McAleny and failed to shore up the defence, despite Curle signing some defenders over the summer (who have spent more time on the treatment table than the pitch). We will probably have enough to keep ourselves out of the relegation spots at the end of the season, but it is going to be a lot closer than I initially realised. We are fortunate that only two teams go down and there are some absolutely rubbish sides in this division, but it will be tight…… especially if we end up with a points deduction at any point.
Abdallah Lemsagan pictured at the home of Oldham Athletic.