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Owl Be Back - By Arlene Finnigan

There’s been a lot of negativity around Latics for quite some time, so it’s important that we celebrate the positives where we can, and last Saturday we definitely had cause for celebration. Not the match, obviously, we were terrible again. No, this was a far more momentous event, something we’ve all been hoping for for months. The return of Chaddy the Owl.

Chaddy’s absence has been a glaring example of our decline and the disconnect between the club and the fans. It was like the ravens leaving the Tower of London. Some of us are old enough to remember original Scary Chaddy, who quite frankly resembled something from The Wicker Man. Thankfully he evolved into something more child-friendly and has often been the most entertaining thing about going to Boundary Park. I remember one game where he threw a kid’s shoe on the pitch (I missed how he came to have the shoe, I assume he rugby tackled the kid and pulled it off) and gestured that the lad should run on the pitch and get it. Search for ‘Chaddy Owl Bloomfield Bear’ on YouTube – if our players had showed his fighting spirit and desire to win over the decades, we’d be back in the Premiership by now.

We are, notoriously, the team in England that has gone the longest without something to celebrate, but this overlooks Chaddy’s glorious victories in the mascot Grand National in 2002 and 2003. Winning in 2003 was all the more impressive given that one of his rivals, Sedge the Field Mouse, was actually Commonwealth Games sprinter Allyn Condon, and the race was disrupted by a female streaker. Fred the Red and Moonchester can’t compete with that, can they? Running is very much Chaddy’s sport rather than cycling, as he found out the hard way at Carlisle in 2009. It’s hard to keep control of the handlebars when you’ve got wings for hands, and he ended up in hospital. Apparently it was quite difficult for the paramedics to examine him because owls, of course, do not talk.

Chaddy is more than just a jester and a successful athlete, though. He is an excellent ambassador for the club. When a group of Liverpool fans visited Boundary Park in 2012 as part of the Red Rose Walk raising money for Hillsborough-related charities, our feathered friend was there on a freezing Friday night in December to welcome them, and I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder as a Latics fan as when I saw Beth, one of the walkers, tweet: “So, Chaddy the Owl just groped me. I’ve pulled.” You could not ask for a finer representative.

Seriously, though. Chaddy M.I.A. and no ball boys/girls for the first few months of the season, no pies or drinks at several games, lights not working on the concourses…. They’re not exactly bending over backwards to encourage people to come back, are they? Football journalist Adam Millington tweeted after the Swindon game last Saturday: “Boundary Park is falling to pieces, the roads on the land are awful, the stands look like they haven’t been cleaned in years. It’s symbolic of the rot which has set in. The match-going experience is woeful.” And we know that the ground (like the club) was in decline long before the current regime took over, but things are getting worse and worse and they’re failing on basic, simple things that make it a less depressing place. It’s not fair for a club director to accuse boycotting fans of ‘trying to kill the club’ when their negligence has made visiting Boundary Park an increasingly miserable day out. If you can’t be bothered looking after our club, sell it to someone who will.

But at least we’ve got Chaddy back.

Thank you to Arlene for submitting this week's post

You can follow Arlene, the glory hunter, on Twitter @arlenefinnigan.

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