Oldham Athletic meeting the opposition.

Oldham Athletic meeting the opposition.

Tranmere’s final Papa John’s Trophy group game comes this Tuesday night as they face Oldham Athletic, a team who knocked them out of the EFL Cup, at Prenton Park.

This competition has had its fair share of criticism recently, with the introduction of Premier League academies into what was a tournament solely for Football League clubs. Thus, I thought it would be interesting to hear the thoughts of an Oldham supporter on the competition amongst other subjects relevant to the match.

I spoke to ‘The Boundary Park Alert System Podcast’ for the latest meeting the opposition feature.

Just to start the conversation off, when did you become an Oldham Athletic supporter and how did that come about? Also, could you tell us a bit about the content that you produce on the ‘BPAS podcast’?

I started visiting BP in the mid to late 80s. We often went with school and my dad used to take us to games. We were just getting good under Joe Royle at the time and once the ‘89-90 came around and the big cups wins, the Littlewoods Final & the FA Cup semi, I was hooked.

I started ‘BPAS’ in Dublin last September, during lockdown and before I moved back to Oldham this summer. I wanted to produce something that addressed the serious plight OAFC are in now and have been in for a number of years. I wasn’t getting that information through any other outlet and it frustrated me, so I figured others felt the same. OUr pod is out every Monday at 7am and covers the games and all the news about the club, protests and off-field issues. There’s never a dull moment. 

Strictly relating to this competition, what are the greatest and worst footballing moments that you’ve experienced with Oldham in the time you’ve followed them?

Having been in Dublin for 10 years and due to the fact that Oldham are just as bad in this as any other, it’s hard to recall much of anything other than mediocrity in this competition! The first thing that springs to mind, however, is when we made the Northern Semi Final against Chesterfield in 2013/14. We Went out on pens but their keeper Tommy Lee was virtually unbeatable in the match, he saved everything! It’s one of those competitions that fans are really disengaged from but that a trip to Wembley and a bit of success in, might just be the catalyst that a club like Oldham needs.

What are your thoughts going into Tuesday’s game? Do you believe that both teams have the quality needed to get the win in the last group stage matchday? 

At this level, anyone can beat anyone. Oldham have already knocked Tranmere out of the EFL Cup this year on pens, but a look at the table suggests that Tranmere are definitely the superior side. Oldham really struggle up front and are always likely to concede. I think if Tranmere put out a strong team, they will win. Oldham don’t have a big enough squad to rest key men, so if Tranmere rest players, I can see Oldham winning. 

The Papa John’s Trophy has changed over time, with Premier League academies coming up against senior sides. What are your thoughts on the current format and is the game at Prenton Park one that you’re greatly wanting to win? 

I’m not in favour of the PL sides entering this competition as I think it devalues it even further. I’d rather see a reserve league back and have North West sides competing at that level again. As for this game; Oldham are in serious danger of relegation this year, so staying up is the number one priority, bar none. Winning or losing this game means nothing in that context but having said that, it’s always nice to beat Tranmere! I’d rather save it for the league though, given a choice.

Finishing our conversation off, what are the off pitch struggles currently looking like at Oldham Athletic given the unrest between the fans and the ownership?

Stalemate, unfortunately. The club have failed to deliver on a number of promises they made in an open letter to fans in September, but that’s no surprise. They only responded to fans because of the increased national media coverage and never intended to deliver. Fans are working hard together behind the scenes to figure out a strategy for the club going forward and to attract new investment. This project has failed and 98% of fans want the current owners to leave, so it’s time to go. Attendances are way down and there’s more protest action planned. Things at BP are grim but we’re working hard and won’t give up.

The unrest between Oldham Athletic supporters and the club’s owner has reached a ‘stalemate’.

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