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Wake up BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

The fans forum this week was an opportunity for Micky Mellon, Darren Royle, Gary Brabin and Luke Rothwell to explain exactly how the wheels came off last season, and this they did. I didn't want to go because, as I explained to Brabin in one of the more bizarre buttonholings he'll ever experience, I was sick to death of Oldham fucking Athletic Football Club and would give it no bandwidth at all till the fixtures came out and I had to apply to Mrs Holdaway for the relevant Saturday passes and permits. "No, Brabin" says I. "Not a single microwatt of my energy is coming your way till I know exactly when Ebbsfleet away is next season."


"And yet," says Brabin, "here you are."


I can add nothing at all to Suzanne's superb and uncannily comprehensive summary of the event in The Oldham Times. My summary is much shorter. What we saw last season was a dysfunctional squad who started to understand the demands of the management and coaching team but not quickly enough to make it into something. When the business end of the season came, when everyone had something to play for, we were short by miles in every department, every facet of the game.


The best, most relevant question of the night was: "What really happened in the dressing room on Christmas morning?" The least relevant question was about solar panels and wind turbines. That was me, gang. I asked about environmental sustainability right at the death, to take the award for least relevant question right when no one could top it. Thanks for playing everyone. Goodnight.


I've seen some tremendous online takes on what Mellon said, the best of which was that he blamed the fans for the home form. He did not. What he actually said - it's included in Suzanne's summary for those who can read, and it even comes with a video clip if you're still wondering - was that opposition managers reckon Oldham fans can have a negative effect on their team. I didn't go to Boundary Park last season, but I saw plenty of away games when some of those who travelled got on the players' backs unnecessarily and counter-productively. There are essays to be written and doctorates to collect for dissertations on the psychology of football fans, but the change I've seen in the 40-odd years I've been watching is that people have torn down the fourth wall of football. What fans say to each other is one thing, but nowadays some people think it's okay to say it directly to the players. It started with Mick Wadsworth and has intensified ever since.


At the risk of sounding like the drony podcast Zen lads, we need to find a way of expressing our displeasure that stops short of the personal and/or counter-productive. You save that for the pub afterwards, the coach home...whatever. We need to find forms of words and gestures between "You're not fit to wear the shirt" and "I fucking love you".


The context of Oldham Athletic has changed and our behaviour (by which I mean YOUR behaviour, Bradley) needs a bit of a refresh to reflect it. For only the third or possibly fourth time in the past 25 years, we have a chance of going up.


How about this? How about when we play shit and get beat, you just walk out instead of screaming at the players? You're the first to complain if they don't come over to "acknowledge the fans" (whatever the fuck that means), and then when they do come over you tell them they're stealing a wage or whatever. The one thing more disappointing and annoying than getting beat and playing shit is the performative, attention-seeking lads - it's always lads - who make a big show of themselves by screaming abuse at the players. Just fuck off out of it. Please.


Back at the OEC, and Brabin was not expecting a visit from the Ancient Mariner here. "Brabin," says I. "You don't understand what you're dealing with here."


He's staring straight ahead, desperately avoiding eye contact. I am clinging to his lapels.


"You don't understand Brabin," says I. "It's 33 years since we got promotion - the last time we did anything in football was 33 years ago, Brabin." I was probably crying into his immense shoulders by this point, and he cradling my sobbing head.


"Thirty-three fucking years, Brabin. We're the worst...sob...football...sob...club...sob...in the world...mahoosive sob."


I think my point was that we're not expectant fans. We're not expectant in the way you'd expect a group of fans to be whose club has the biggest budget in the league by miles. That's irrelevant to the outlook of Oldham Athletic fans. We stopped expecting when Tony Blair and Nikki Minaj were things. We yearn.


"The problem isn't the expectation, Brabin," continues I. "It's the yearning Brabin. I don't blame you for not understanding, but please understand that we're needy, not expectant. They're different things, Brabin."


Roy prised me away at this point and managed to shepherd me out into the Boundary Park night.

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