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You really were the greatest sight

Goodbye, Stretford’s Rose. May you ever shout ‘GET THE FUCK IN’ in our hearts. We were all so, so desperate for you to pull off another Shezurrection, but you can stride into the sunset with your head held high.

Shez didn’t have to come back. He was enjoying his retirement. He told the Undr the Cosh podcast last year that he wasn’t interested in returning to management; he felt that those days were behind him, and he’d just become a grandad and wanted to spend as much time with his granddaughter as he could. Nearly two decades on from him continuing to play for us against medical advice when we were in desperate need, he chose to give up that time with his family to try and work a miracle, during the worst season in our history, with a squad put together by the worst football director in the Football League. We were dead and buried at the bottom of League Two, but if anyone could save us, maybe the Lord could.

And it really did look like he might pull it off for a time. In February, after Shez took over, the players were unrecognisable and were suddenly capable of putting in immense performances. The atmosphere during the Bradford game, which we won 2-0 to take us out of the relegation places for the first time in months, was among the best I’ve experienced. We’d been rooted in the relegation zone for most of the season; it took the Lord just 5 games to lift us out of it. I’m told the atmosphere at the do at Heyside Cricket Club with John and Darren Sheridan after the game (which I had a ticket for, and I’m still pissed off that I couldn’t make it) was even better. Shez had agreed to the evening months ago, before returning as head coach. Most people would have pulled out after rejoining the club in a professional capacity, especially given the shitshow the club was at the time and how volatile his bosses were. Not Shez, though. The Lord was not above spending an evening on the beers with his adoring people.

Sadly, the mountain was too high and too steep, and the tools he was given to climb it just weren’t good enough. Mike Fondop looked like the big target man we had been missing up front, but we lost him to injury after just two games. The Great Stevenage Robbery gave us a brief glimmer of hope, but the damage was done long before The Sixth Coming, and the squad we had couldn’t sustain the initial surge in form. When our fate was on the verge of being confirmed at home to Salford, and the club directors who got us into that unsalvageable mess were nowhere to be seen, it was Shez who was on the pitch, calmly speaking to the people peacefully protesting on the pitch, telling them he understood, asking for a chance to try to achieve the impossible in the remaining minutes. Not berating them, not accusing them of committing a SERIOUS CRIMINAL OFFENCE. He got it. He was as gutted as we were.

I kind of wanted him to walk at the end of the season, because I didn’t want him to have to deal with the Lemsagams’ shit any more, but he said he felt that it was his responsibility to get us back into the League, and he wanted to put things right. No one could have done that under the Lemsagams. Maybe he knew something was imminent. When the Rothwell family were unveiled as our new owners, both Frank Rothwell and Darren Royle voiced their confidence in him and said they wanted the supporters to be patient and give him time to turn things around. And God, we wanted him to be the one to turn it around. It would have been the ultimate Shezurrection, a foul-mouthed phoenix rising from the flames of the National League. Sadly, it wasn’t to be.

It's fitting, though, that his final stint with us helped save the club from the certain oblivion it was heading for. Remember how Frank keeps saying that he was inspired to see what he could do for the club after being so impressed by the Athleticos’ wall of noise during the Orient game? The Athleticos who were banned from bringing their banners by the previous regime? Who were, like so many of us, driven away by the utter contempt shown to them by the club under the Lemsagams? They came back, like a lot of us did, because of Shez. They threw themselves into getting behind the team, like a lot of us did, because Shez asked them to. There was only one man who could have done that with the Bollock Brothers still at the helm. He gave us a spark of hope, and it lit a distress signal that attracted a rescue mission. We’ve had more successful managers, but he easily matched them in terms of loyalty and dedication, and maybe his final intervention was, in its own way, one of the most important in our history.

Here's to you, Johnny Sheridan. Oldham will always love you more than you can know. May you have the happiest of retirements.

Image © @lookersgirl

Written by Arlene Finnigan


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I noticed in your photos that they are somehow blurry. I advise you to correct this defect as it is very noticeable. You can also add video content. You can do all this in mac video editor. If you want, you can contact me, but you can try to do everything yourself. It is completely free, simple and multifunctional.

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Hi Xarvos777! Thanks for taking the time to read a blog from well over a year ago. A lot has changed at Boundary Park since then! We're on our third manager since John Sheridan left, the pitch has been upgraded, the floodlight bulbs have been replaced and a lot of players have come and gone. You should come to our game vs Gateshead this afternoon and see for yourself! There's fuck all wrong with the photos BTW. All the best.

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