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My will power at the lowest Ebb

Words by Anthony "Macca" McNamara

For me, at least, Saturday, 25 November 2023, was about as wholesome a day as a grown man can experience. Having completed the morning errands, which consisted mainly of scrambling to ensure my daughter wasn’t the last to arrive for her ballet and gymnastics lessons yet again, I headed to my mum and dad’s in the bosom of the Ribble Valley for a long-planned day of boozing, Chinese food, and the craic.

Meanwhile, as I contentedly guzzled my way through multiple bottles of San Miguel, Satan himself was squatting above the Pennines, cheeks pulled generously apart, and was curling out one atrocity turd after another directly on top of OL1 2PA.

A medieval artist's impression of Satan about to do an atrocity turd, flanked by Main Stand Moaners

Keeping track of events on one of the club’s most precious institutions – the OAFC Twitter (fuck off, I’m not calling it X) hashtag – I wasn’t surprised to learn that we’d started poorly. We always start fucking poorly. Nor was I surprised when we went a goal down. We're Oldham Athletic. It's disorientating when we don’t go a goal down. But then Norwood FINALLY equalised (albeit from the spot), and the clouds seemed to part as generously as Satan’s buttocks had 70 minutes earlier.

Because I’m a gullible twat and incapable of learning even the most basic lessons, I allowed myself to believe that Norwood's converted penalty would spur the team into belated action and a mostly horrifying afternoon might still conclude with smiles on Yonner faces. LMFAO, what a dickhead.

In a fit of Typical Latics almost too cartoonishly predictable to be real, Satan settled deeper into the squat and dropped another explosion of hate deuces on to our one-million-pound pitch.

I mean, at least there was something darkly comical about Ebbsfleet’s fourth. Watching our players stumble and crash into each other as Dominic Samuel sauntered through them, laughing his tits off as he went, had a Benny Hill-esque slapstick quality.

To be honest, I felt sorry for Mellon in his post-match interview. He had the clinically shell-shocked look of a man who’s just stumbled across Nadine Dorries’ private collection of Boris Johnson-themed erotica. A man who’s had his head forced into the abyss and fears he may never know joy again. Welcome to Oldham, Mickey. You don’t have to be mad to be here, but if you stay long enough, you’ll end up with some form of psychiatric disorder anyway.

Perhaps Mellon could and should shoulder some of the blame for Saturday’s crime against valour, but I’m minded to shift my crosshairs in the direction of the players. We know that most of them are capable of individual brilliance, and everyone is allowed to have an off day every so often, but that on Saturday wasn’t an off day.

It was protracted, craven spinelessness.

Less so the club’s history and tradition. It might help our current crop if they learn to put the fans (sorry, supporters) front and centre of their Instagram-addled minds. On the off chance any of them reads this, a little history lesson for you:

From standing as one of Europe’s Industrial Revolution boomtowns, the collapse of the cotton industry dealt a near-fatal blow to the town that gifted humanity with the tubular bandage. In the years that followed, it earned the moniker of “left behind”, that insidious term that betrays capitalism’s enthusiasm for abandoning communities no longer deemed economically viable.

And yet the people of Oldham persevered, retaining a dignity and hardiness that is not better exemplified anywhere else than in the raucous stands and terraces that Latics supporters routinely adorn with a ferocious blue and tangerine passion. In short, you are privileged to play in front of these people.

We also have plenty among our fanbase for whom following Latics represents a sizeable portion of their monthly income. Men and women, young and old, who go without in other areas of their life to be there, willing the team on. Willing YOU on. In return, they ask only one thing – that of the 10,080 minutes of your working week, you give everything for just 90. I don’t think that’s unreasonable.

On Saturday, however, it was apparently too much to ask. But I suppose an ability to play football to a satisfactory standard is no indicator of moral fibre.

It’s all the more sickening that the massacre at the hands of the Kent Floodlight Cup Winners 1969–70 came on the back of the extraordinary display at Hairdo FC. It proved that these players are able to turn up, but only when they can be arsed. And on Saturday, they couldn’t. Just like they couldn’t at Fylde.

Make no mistake, this capriciousness will keep us out of the top seven this season. Left unchecked, it’ll keep us in the Vauxhall Conference for many more years to come.

So, onto Boredom Wood today. A team that has lost three of their last five and slipped to 17th (remember when we used to complain about finishing 17th in League One? Lol.) Another team that represents a leisure centre, can’t buy a win, and will bring about 12 fans. It is a game that carries all the grim inevitability that we have come to endure from this bafflingly ill-fated club.

But who knows? Maybe the players will decide they can be arsed. I fear that’s about as much as we can hope for with this lot.

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