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Isn't it good, we've signed Norwood

Good morning, sailors! Underway! Shift colours! HMS Piss The League is leaving harbour. Full steam ahead.

Our final preseason friendly ended in disappointment, but it was a decent performance against a strong Mansfield side who’ll expect to be challenging for promotion out of League 2, especially in the first half. We both created chances, they took theirs, we didn’t take ours. We switched off at the back to allow Akins to open the scoring, he doubled the lead early in the second half, and it was a great finish from Oates to curl the ball into the far corner from the edge of the area to make it 3-0. There’s still work to do, both on and off the pitch. No wine, vodka or gin in the Rocky and the women’s toilet by the fans’ bar still isn’t fit for purpose. Sort it out, Darren.

We’ve made a fair statement of intent with our signings over the summer, and that continued in some style on Thursday. Having unveiled Brennan Dickenson with a suitably silly video earlier in the day, Wadmin outdid themselves with a video that basically waved the club’s dick at Barnsley, Wrexham and Tranmere. No way James Norwood signs for Oldham! Oh yes he fucking does. You don’t need a midfield with this set of strikers. Play 3-2-5, win every game 7-2 and piss the league by Easter.

It's not a huge exaggeration to say that this signing has sent shockwaves through English football. Norwood’s last competitive game was at Wembley. He scored 11 goals last season in a Barnsley team that finished 4th in League One. The Barnsley fans wanted him to stay. Wrexham and Tranmere were both after him. And he chose us. Thoughts and prayers with the Tranmere fan who tweeted “Update – James Norwood still hasn’t stopped laughing at thought of playing in-front of the Brass band flat cap wearing chairman in non league.” I still haven’t stopped laughing at your tweet, mate. (He did hold his hands up and admit he’d “had a mare”, to be fair.)

Liam Hogan talked about the club’s ambitions in an interview in the week, saying “The mission statement will be for us to try to achieve those promotion places”. That’s great but go easy on the ‘mission statement’ management speak, Liam, I get enough of that shite at work. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to win the league on April 6th vs Rochdale.

We didn’t get confirmation that HMS Piss The League would be setting sail today as scheduled until Monday, when Southend and the National League confirmed that our opening game against them would take place at Roots Hall as planned. Confirmed 5 days before the game. At 6pm. When it’s a near-500 mile round trip from Oldham to Southend. An utter shambles of a situation. I understand that they wanted to give Southend every chance to get the game on, but the National League should have intervened sooner. It’s ridiculous that travelling fans who had arranged transport to Southend still didn’t know whether or not they’d wasted their money 5 days before the game. (Obviously we still sold out our allocation of 660, because we’re massive.)

The bulk of the blame, obviously, lies with the failed regime at Southend. It’s typical of their mismanagement that, with no safety certificate in place and the ground clearly in disrepair, it didn’t occur to their owner to request an away game for their first game of the season. Or to, y’know, make the ground fit for purpose in good time. All credit goes to the Southend fans who volunteered to clean Roots Hall up and get the game on today, and we stand in solidarity with them in their fight to get their club back.

Photo from the Custard Splat Podcast

Apparently, Ron Martin has said that the protests at his mismanagement of the club are deterring potential buyers. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? We know that’s bollocks, and that supporters fighting for the future of their club show a club’s potential. Frank’s said on numerous occasions that he was inspired to get his family to buy the club and the ground by the passion and enthusiasm of the Athleticos. The same Athleticos who were told by the previous regime that they had to remove their banners from the ground. Keep the pressure on, Shrimpers fans. Even if it means getting banned for “promoting dislike” of your club.

The Southend Supporters’ Group have put out a statement saying that “Saturday should be a celebration of all that is good about our football club and its crucial place at the heart of our community”. They haven’t called for a boycott or protests at the game, although they have said that they respect those that want to protest and also thanked OASF for their offer of support. The Southend Fan Protest Group have said that they will be boycotting and protesting at the chairman’s house. It’s a shame that there hasn’t been any coordinated action organised before the game, it seems like a missed opportunity, but we have to respect the Southend supporters’ decision. Personally, I think united, organised direct action worked pretty well for us. Whichever way they decide to go, I hope it works out for them.

(It’s fine if you think this is a ‘pathetic love-in’, by the way. You’re entitled to your opinion. I’m equally entitled to not give the tiniest fuck about what you think about showing solidarity with fellow football supporters, or, while we’re at it, your crappy opinions about the Women’s World Cup.)

And having said all that, I think the best way we could support the Southend supporters in their efforts to put pressure on Ron Martin to sell up would be to batter them 8-0 today and galvanise the campaign to oust him.

Off we go, then. Fare thee well, HMS Piss The League. Fair winds and following seas. It’s going to be quite the journey. KTMFF.


Written by Arlene Finnigan. Photos © Oldham Athletic.

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