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The brass bands play and feet start to pound

According to (there’s a website I never knew existed), a contest promoted by Oldham Athletic Supporters Club took place at Boundary Park on Saturday 28th July 1934. The first prize, the princely sum of £5, was won by Delph, with Busk Congregational coming 2nd and Northmoor Methodist 3rd. Today sees a glorious return of brass band music to Boundary Park, as the club honours its past and traditions while looking forward to the future and heralding the new season with a ‘New Era’ procession down Sheepfoot Lane. It’s not gonna be dull under Frankie, is it?

The procession will of course be led by Frank and Judith, accompanied by Oldham’s Deputy Lieutenant Muzahid Khan “representing the Queen” (?!?!?). Greenfield Brass Band will head the procession, and Frank wants them to play so loudly that “the ladies in the maternity ward at Boundary Park hospital [yes Frank, give it its proper name] will be distracted from their labours and wishing they could join us”. I don’t know about you, but I reckon the statements coming out of the club are a LOT more entertaining now. Chaddy the Owl will be in the club shop before the game, but it isn’t safe for him to march down Sheepfoot Lane in the middle of a heatwave with his giant fluffy head. The brass band and singer Maddison Peacock will also be performing the national anthem before the game, which I’m a little disappointed at as I was hoping for Fanfare For The Common Man and The Boys In Blue. Frank wants no flares or fireworks, or banners referring to the past, but he does want “singing, banners and flat caps both on the procession and in the ground”.

I was pleasantly surprised to read that the new fans’ bar, Bar Station Zebra (bravo), on the ground level of the Joe Royle stand, will be open for the Dorking game. Having played a VERY small part in helping to clear out the unit a week last Wednesday (Andy won’t forgive me if I don’t point out that he was one of a handful of people who returned on the Thursday to fill a 20 tonne skip with all the crap that needed throwing out), I didn’t think it’d be ready for weeks. Just goes to show what can be achieved with people working together and actually doing things in the right way. The times really are a-changing. Naturally, according to @SimonPrenders19, Frank and Darren Royle were fitting the portaloos yesterday. Write your own 'shithouse' gag.

On Tuesday, a team of volunteers mucked in (literally) to help clean up Boundary Park ahead of the big day. Mad how the same fans who were ‘trying to kill the club’ a few months are now prepared to give up a beautifully sunny weekday evening to clean bird shit off the seats in the ground. Frank was, of course, pictured helping to fill in the potholes in the car park.

3700 season tickets have now been sold, and over 2000 tickets have been sold for the Dorking game. A new era, a new hope, a new dawn, a new day. It’s going to take time to turn around the neglect and general fuckery we’ve suffered for years, but it feels like a promising start. If you do things properly, if you put in the effort to make it feel like our club, then we’ll do our bit. We’ll buy tickets, we’ll buy shirts, we’ll clean up seagull shit, and we’ll walk down Sheepfoot Lane to see John Sheridan’s aces. With a brass band. Wearing flat caps. After the last four years, it’ll feel like a victory parade. Enjoy it. We’ve earned it. And if all that isn’t enough, there’s the OASF gig at Whittles afterwards to look forward to. The Crash Mats have promised to play a song for Frank, “and a cover of the chuckle bros for the former owners”. (The former owners aren't the ones who spring to mind for me when you mention the Chuckle Brothers, but let's not give that absolute danger the attention he's desperate for.) What a brilliant way to spend a Saturday.

Just don’t fuck it up on the pitch, eh lads?

Written by Arlene Finnigan. Image © The Oldham Times.

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