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Don't you know, pump it up, the Bulls are going up

Ah, football can be brilliant, can't it. Well it can for literally every team other than Oldham Athletic. Hope Street in Prescot was the place to be last weekend, and I'm delighted that I was there to see it.

Cables’ opponents, City of Liverpool FC, were formed in 2015 due to their co-founders wondering why Liverpool didn’t have a non-league team, which must have come as a surprise to South Liverpool and Lower Breck. The Purps, as we’re supposed to call them, are known to some as the Sofa Surfers due to their penchant for playing at other team’s grounds then falling out with them. They were in talks to play at Cables a couple of seasons ago, which fell through. They’ve played at Ellesmere Port (in Cheshire), Bootle (in Sefton), and, having been kicked out by Bootle in February this year due to a breach of the groundshare agreement, saw out the season at Widnes (in Halton). The wait for a non-league team based within the city limits of Liverpool – apart from Lower Breck, and South Liverpool, and countless amateur teams – continues.

Cables had announced that the match had sold out, and people should stay away if they didn’t have a ticket. We got to the ground good and early, as Andy had the sense to realise that a sell-out crowd meant I wouldn’t see much on the terrace, so we should get there in time to get a seat in the stand, which I last sat in about 35 years ago. I got asked if I had any spares outside the ground three times. The kick off was delayed by 15 minutes due to massive queues at the turnstiles. My brother texted me saying “When my dad was there and they were getting crowds of 20 (inc pets), I never dreamed there’d be touts”.

The down side was that, naturally, the queue for the bar was mental. Andy went for a pie and a pint at ten to three and didn’t come back until twenty to four.

He didn’t miss too much in the first half, which was as cagey and nervy as you’d expect in a final with so much as stake. That changed when Max Allen was sent off for lungeing in on Alex McNally late on in the first half. Their captain had already had to go off injured ten minutes in, and the red card proved to be a turning point. There’s never a bad time to score, but injury time in the first half in a final is a lovely time to score. McNally recovered from Allen’s dangerous challenge to put a corner kick into the 6 yard box for James Foley to head Cables into the lead, and in full control of the game.

The game was effectively wrapped up in the 65th minute, and it was fitting that it was yet another assist from winger Kyle Sambor – who’s had a superb season – to set up striker Big John Murphy (to give him his full title) for his 24th goal of the season to seal promotion, which the CoL fans inexplicably celebrated by setting off a purple flare.

It was also fitting that Cables kept another clean sheet, with captain Liam Hollett (playing on with a groin strain) immense at the back and deservedly getting the MOTM award. They haven’t conceded in their last 6 and a half hours of playing, and they’re going up.

📷 Andy Roberts. Hell is empty and all the devils are here.

I should explain that this young man is wearing a bull mask as a nod to Cables’ nickname, the Pesky Bulls (as in Ca-bulls). It’s a relatively recent nickname that I’ve never quite got on board with – they were the Tigers when I were a girl, in reference to their amber and black kit – but you have to accept that you’re a curmudgeon and move with the times. Although some people said it looked more like a horse mask. Maybe it was a nod to Bottom from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Maybe.

It was understandable pandemonium at the end, with jubilant fans setting off yellow flares on the pitch, disgruntled CoL fans throwing their unused purple flares at them, and Cables coach Tony Sullivan having to come over and tell them to behave themselves. It could have turned nasty, but it didn’t, and everyone was welcome to stay on the pitch to watch the victorious players lift the trophy in the stand.

At the scrum at the bar, I had a ‘Dr Livingstone, I presume?’ moment when I heard a definitely-not-local voice saying “I tended bar in college, can I help?”, and turned round to see a 6ft 5 American behind me. “I’m guessing you’re related to Nathan Koehler?” It was his dad, who’d flown over from Georgia with Nathan’s mum for the game. Guess we didn’t have the longest journey to the game. I hope they had a lovely trip.

(We didn’t have the second longest trip either, there was a bloke stood near us at the end who’d travelled from Denmark. Because Cables are a massive club.)

It was a brilliant day, and a perfect end to a thoroughly successful season. And, because Prescot is dead posh nowadays, we celebrated with tapas and a VERY nice bottle of red at Harrington’s. Which is definitely NOT what my dad used to do at the end of the season. Maybe I should have gone the Big Chippy then had a pint of mild at the Guild Hall, for old time’s sake.

Ste Daley has done a fantastic job as manager, and his captain was effusive in his praise for him. This is a special group of players being led by a brilliant coaching team, and I can’t wait to see how they do in the Northern Premier League.

The club were keen to thank the people who are the lifeblood of the club, who have kept it going through thick and thin, and who deserve this success as much as anyone. There were shout outs for the volunteers who cleaned up the ground after the game; for Jess and Vicky; and for the real hero of any club, the secretary.


This being an Oldham Athletic blog, we should pay tribute to St Herbert's, who achieved that most rare of achievements last Sunday: an Oldham win at Wembley. Congratulations, kids. Dead proud of you.


Finally, CEO Darren Royle gave an update on where the club is at in an interview on Thursday. I've had a really busy week in work so I haven't had chance to watch it, but it appears to have absolutely enraged the Irrelevant Element. Good work, Darren.

Life ain't so bad, is it. Days like last Saturday - or last Sunday, if you're one of the parents of the St Herbert's kids, or Thursday, if you're an #oafc Twitter shitposter - are what we live for. Make the most of them. Stay pesky. KTMFF.

Written by Arlene Finnigan

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