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Change my pitch up!

The podcast might be taking a break, but like Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic, We Never Stop. As you read this, Matt Dean is probably having a pina colada on a beach and Alex Reid may well be trying to take his cat into a nightclub in a rucksack, but I’m still here, paying tribute to my fellow grafters, the ground staff, who’ve been busy preparing for our swanky new pitch.

The old turf had one last job on Sunday, as Boundary Park hosted the Manchester Remembers charity match. All money raised from the game went to five charities set up in the aftermath of the Arena bombing in 2017: Chloe and Liam Together Forever Trust, Liv’s Trust, The Megan Hurley Foundation, The Remembering Nell Foundation and Eilidh’s Trust. You can still donate £5 by texting 22MCR to 70085. It was an emotional afternoon, with Rowetta singing You Got The Love as the teams came out and 22 balloons released as the names of those who lost their lives in the attack were read out.

The game itself was what you’d want from a charity game: high scoring, chaotic, ex pros taking the piss out of celebrities. I believe the Legends beat the Celebs 7-5, but it was a bit hard to keep up with the score; there was no scoreboard, the electronic boards having been removed, presumably in preparation for the work to be done on the pitch. I had no idea who most of the celebs were and struggled to pick out who was who on the Legends teams, except of course for the number 62. Seeing Andy Ritchie scoring in front of the Chaddy End again was definitely the highlight of the afternoon.

I don’t want to be the churlish arsehole complaining about poor organisation at a charity event, but I’m told the ridiculous queues for the kiosks in the Joe Royle stand are a regular occurrence at our league matches. Explaining to the stewards that it wasn’t safe for the queues to be blocking the turnstiles and fire exits proved fruitless. Where’s Health and Safety Baz when you need him? Seriously, though, it’s something that needs sorting for next season.

On Monday, work began on installing our new, ultramodern, state of the art hybrid pitch. Cheers, Oldham Council. It’s apparently the biggest overhaul of the playing surface in over 25 years, and we’re also renovating Chapel Road and Little Wembley and installing new dugouts, new drains and a new irrigation system. MASSIVE CLUB.

Head groundsman Dean Pickering has been keeping us up to date with the developments on Twitter. On Wednesday, we were informed that “we are now onto removing the upper rootzone with all the old desso fibers in”. I have no idea what the ‘upper rootzone’ or the ‘desso fibers’ are, but it all looks and sounds terribly exciting. I’m only disappointed that Frank isn’t driving the tractor.

Photo © Oldham Athletic

It’s strangely satisfying and cathartic, seeing the old pitch being ripped up. Quite a nice visual metaphor for the massive overhaul the club is undergoing. Getting rid of things that have been unfit for purpose for years and making long overdue improvements. Tearing out the old, tired legacy of decades of neglect and sowing the seeds of a brighter future. And, y’know, it’s good fun watching someone on a digger.

Have fun whatever you’re planning to do with your Latics-free weekend. I’m off to Liverpool for a Eurovision party at a Royal Navy facility and I cannot wait. I’ve no idea whether OAFC Veterans and Armed Forces Supporters Group have organised a similar party in the fans’ bar, I hope they have. May your day be as fabulous as mine. KTMFF.

Written by Arlene Finnigan

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