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You know this league, very humdrum, boredom, boredom

There are some positives to take from last Saturday, right? A clean sheet and a point away from home, that’s not bad, is it? Well, yes, actually, yes it was bad. By all accounts, if the Woking game was toilet, the Ebbsfleet game was a chemical portaloo on the last night of the Leeds festival. And someone ran at it and knocked it over while you were in it, for a laugh.

We were spared the horror of actually watching it. We had to be in Manchester to get a train and nowhere was showing it. At the time, it was pretty infuriating being told by multiple pubs (including one particular manbaby creche with computer game rooms, that had specifically advertised that they were showing it) that they couldn’t possibly put our game on one of their ten screens, not even on one of the screens that it was clear that no one was watching. Apparently if you want to watch a National League game in a pub in Manchester city centre during the Six Nations, you need to book a booth a week in advance. Tory fucking Britain.

It became clear from following the match on social media that it was a blessing, though. “If you had a sip of wine every time our midfield gave the ball away you’d be about four pints in by now” was one of the more upbeat WhatsApp messages. From the ‘highlights’ on YouTube, it looks like Hudson kept us in the game and might have been the only player to come out with any credit. The defending was crap, it was far too easy to put crosses in, and the midfield were invisible again. Norwood should have done better when one on one with the keeper in the first half, and unfortunately got injured trying to put away one of the other three chances we had. Mellon thought that Fondop was unlucky to not score. Maybe he should have borrowed Hudson’s boots again.

That’s twice in successive games that we’ve struggled against teams deep in a relegation battle. As Grant on the Lower League Look podcast so eloquently put it, “you shit the bed against the bottom teams”. He’s not wrong. It’s something we need to sort out. Can we not cope with wee guys raising their game against the mighty Oldham Athletic? We need to.

Obviously losing Norwood to injury is a huge blow, with the general consensus being he’s done his hamstring and will be out for 6-8 weeks. We shouldn’t panic though. As good as he is, if him being out is a death blow to our season when we’ve got Dallas, Garner, Fondop, Reid and Hope who can all cover up front, then our squad are clearly a worse bunch of bottle jobs than we feared. Step up, lads.

Once again, there’s been more pride inspired off the pitch than on it. Frank has had a torrid time in the Atlantic, at one point losing seven miles and having to drop para-anchor due to the weather, but he’s back on track and still hoping to make it to Antigua in time to spend Valentine’s Day with Judith. (Hope he has a wash and a shave before he takes her out for tea.) He was on Sky Sports on Thursday and sounded in characteristically great spirits. The club have announced that it’ll be a quid to get in for the Kidderminster game (and have had the sense to make it all ticket), so he’ll get the welcome home he deserves. He had to drop para-anchor again yesterday, but he saw a whale, so that’s nice.

In the week, Micky Mellon was on Granada Reports talking about the work he does with schoolkids in EdStart schools across the northwest, talking to them about resilience and team work. EdStart schools provide education to kids who don’t cope in mainstream schools, so it sounds like a challenging job. Fair play to him. (Don’t make a gag about how he should concentrate on instilling resilience into our players. Come on. You’re better than that.)

Maybe having a free weekend has come at the right time for us. Kind of like a fire break. (Remember that phrase from lockdown? Ah, what a time.) Time to regroup, focus, remember that we’re Oldham Fucking Athletic and we should be battering teams who are fighting relegation, then hammer Boreham Wood on Tuesday. KTMFF.

Written by Arlene Finnigan. Photos © Thomas Lee Stacey.

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