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Down from the Glen came the marching men

Storms Isha and Jocelyn may have caused disruption this week (RIP our back garden fence), but Storm Latics is about to wreak havoc on the National League. Batten down the hatches, Wee Guys.

To the surprise of no one, our game at Eastleigh was called off after an 11am pitch inspection, with loads of our fans already on the road down south. So 50 or so of them decided (well, Binman made an executive decision) to take a detour to Northern Premier League Midlands team Rugby Town for their relegation six-pointer against AFC Rushden and Diamonds. 177 people attended Rugby's game vs Quorn (not, to my disappointment, the works team of the fake chicken factory) in December. The attendance last Saturday was 459. Rushden and Diamonds won 2-0, but it'd be hilarious if the bumper gate and bar takings turned out to be the turning point in Rugby's season.

We were somewhat further afield last weekend, having travelled to Dublin to cheer on Watty Graham's Glen in the All Ireland senior club final at Croke Park. They're from Andy's mum's hometown of Maghera in County Derry. Andy's Uncle Michael is their oldest living former player, has been a trustee of the club since the 1950s, and helped to buy and develop their pitch and social club. Andy's cousin's son, Connor Carville, is the Glen captain. It's hard to give an analogy because of the structure of the GAA, but imagine Royton CC playing in a final at Lords, if Royton's population was only 4235, and your cousin's lad was the captain and your uncle built the club. It's a huge deal.

St Brigid's were on top for pretty much all of the game, and with Glen trailing by three points with less than three minutes of normal time left, I thought we were heading for heartbreak again, but I remember thinking "this is going to be up there with the greatest comebacks ever if they do win". Then Conor Glass scored one of the greatest goals I've ever seen in any sport to level it (a goal is three points in Gaelic football). Then Glen put it between the sticks twice to go two points clear. Then St Brigid's pulled one back. Then they got a free, well into injury time, and I could have sworn it was going over to equalise, but it went agonisingly wide, the game was over, and every player collapsed.

I'm too young to remember the Sheffield Wednesday game and the Neil Redfearn penalty, so the closest thing I can compare last Sunday to, in terms of the drama and what was at stake, was when Jack Welsby scored a try after the hooter had gone to win the Grand Final for St Helens against Wigan in 2020. It hits differently when it's family, though. We were drinking with Connor's mum Geraldine before the game and she was visibly shaking with nerves. What a day. What a team. My heart rate will never recover and the match definitely took 5 years off my life, but it was so worth it. Up the Wattys. High Kings of Ireland.

Our perfect cousin. Photo © Mark Marlow.

I had intended to spend Monday doing very little except watch Conor Glass' goal on repeat, but Wadmin had other ideas. Absolutely exceptional video. Our admin>everyone else's admin. Except maybe Worthing's admin.

By all accounts (and if I remember from how he was against us for Solihull Moors), Andrew Dallas is an absolute shithouse. Him and Norwood up front are going to be horrible to play against, and I cannot wait to see it. When asked on Tuesday what Dallas will bring, Micky Mellon said "Class. Quality. Know how. Pace. Scottish." We all hope he's more Bobby Johnstone than Chris Iwelumo, Micky.

After all the excitement at Dallas' signing, it'd be typical Latics for Tuesday's game vs Barnet to be a huge disappointment, right? Well, it was bit disappointing that Dallas wasn't available because we didn't get international clearance in time (for a player on loan from Barnsley, LOL - yes I know he's been playing for Kilmarnock but the SNP lost the referendum last time I checked), but the match, in storm conditions, was a lot of fun.

We settled into the wind and rain quicker than our soft southern opponents, and Conlon's free kick early on wasn't too far away, which is interesting because the Barnet manager didn't think we had any clear cut chances. It was a blatant foul on Norwood for the first penalty, and God bless the Barnet player who was trying to put him off before he converted it. That was only ever gonna bite you on the arse, son. I hear Norwood spent the rest of the game telling him that he was shit, the magnificent bastard.

Fucked around.

Found out.

It was another clear foul on Fondop for the second penalty, and he celebrated the pen being given like he'd just scored the winning goal for Cameroon in the AFCON final.

Credit due to Sheron, whose great tackle as Barnet were breaking from our corner set up the move (and it wasn't the best thing he did in the game). There is not a keeper in the world who would have saved Norwood's thundercunt off the crossbar into the top right corner.

It felt like we were well in control of the game, with the defence looking far more solid and the midfield battling and winning second balls far better than we have been. Hudson made a few great saves, though, which is again interesting given that the Barnet manager said they didn't take any of the many, many opportunities they apparently had that were supposedly enough to win two or three games. Has he been taking lessons from David Unsworth?

The highlight of the game, was, of course, Sheron nearly taking the referee's head off. Fair play to the ref, I'm not sure I'd be getting up after that. You just know if it had been Norwood who'd whacked the ball into his face he'd have assumed it was deliberate and sent him off. If Glen's glorious victory at Croke Park was one of the best things I've ever seen on a sports pitch, then this was one of the funniest. Still think we should have made Sheron MOTM.

Things are moving in the right direction. Sachdev had a very promising debut considering it was his first senior game, the conditions were challenging and he got an early booking for an over enthusiastic tackle. Conlon looks like he might be what we've been missing in midfield and Sheron looked a much better player alongside him. Hammond came on late but looked assured. Get your Wembley hotel booked.

An excellent week sportswise, then. On a personal level, it's been rough. We said goodbye to our mum on Thursday. She hated football and swearing so I'm glad she never read this blog. If you're able to and would like to, you can make a donation in her memory to the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation here.

(Could have really done without Jurgen Klopp announcing that he was leaving Liverpool the following day. Like my brother hadn't had a tough enough week.)

Football, like life, can be cruel, but it can be brilliant, so ignore the naysayers and go ahead and get carried away when things are going well. Get down to Boundary Park today if you can to watch us terrorise another Southern leisure centre. KTMFF.

Words by Arlene Finnigan. Photos © Oldham Athletic.

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