|Full name||Oldham Athletic Association Football Club|
|Nickname(s)||The Latics, Oldham|
|Founded||1895, as Pine Villa F.C.|
|2012–13||League One, 19th|
Oldham Athletic Association Football Club is a professional football club based at Boundary Park, on Sheepfoot Lane in Oldham, Greater Manchester, England. The club currently competes in the Football League One, the third tier in the English football league system. They have been in this league since their relegation from the old Football League First Division in 1997. It is incorporated as Oldham Athletic (2004) Association Football Club Limited, but is more commonly known as Oldham Athletic or by its nickname The Latics.
The history of Oldham Athletic A.F.C. begins with its founding as Pine Villa F.C. in 1895, which played in local Manchester and Lancashire leagues. When rivals Oldham County F.C. folded in 1899, Pine Villa F.C. moved into their stadium, the Oldham Athletic Ground (now known as Boundary Park) and changed their name to Oldham Athletic. They were Football League runners-up in the 1914–15 season, the last before the outbreak of the First World War, but were relegated from the Football League First Division in 1923. They reached the 1990 Football League Cup Final and won the Football League Second Division title in 1991, ending 68 years outside the top tier of English football. They secured their top division status a year later to become founder members of the new Premier League, but were relegated after two seasons despite reaching that year's FA Cup Semi-finals.
Since the late-1990s Oldham Athletic have grappled with poor performance, a high turnover of managers and an ageing stadium. The club's limited company was formed after a period of insolvency in 2003–04. In February 2004, the club's immediate future was secured when a group of United States-based expatriate British businessmen, led by Simon Blitz, bought the club, forming Oldham Athletic (2004) Association Football Club Limited.
Pine Villa Football Club was formed in 1895, though the club changed its appearance and name in 1899 to Oldham Athletic Football Club. The club immediately gained professional status and played in both the Lancashire Combination and Lancashire League. Unlike many clubs, Oldham Athletic gained quick success and gained acceptance into the Football League in 1907–08. After three years in the Second Division, the Latics gained promotion to the First Division.
Within a couple of seasons, Oldham had announced themselves serious contenders, finishing 4th in the league in 1912–13, and reaching the F.A. Cup semi-finals the same season, losing out 1–0 versus Aston Villa. In 1914–15, the Latics reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup but were knocked out once again after a 0–3 replay against Sheffield United. In the league that season they almost won it all; The Latics lost the league by one point, as close as they have ever come to winning the league. The Latics early success was only halted by the First World War.
Following the return of competitive football after the First World War, Oldham Athletic struggled to find their early success before they returned to the Second Division in 1923 – it would be another 68 years before they played top division football again.
Many of the players from their former squads had either retired from football or had been killed in the war. Their highest success came in the 1929–30 season as they finished in 3rd, missing out on promotion by finishing two points behind Chelsea F.C. From then on they slowly but surely fell down the league table, until a final placing of 21st at the end of the 1934–35 season saw them relegated to the Third Division North. They found life in this new division much more to their liking, coming 7th in their first season and following this with three seasons in the top five. Promotion back to the Second Division looked like it might just be a possibility, but the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 brought an end to League Football. Players' contracts were terminated, and relying largely on guest players, the club was to play in the war-time Northern League until August 1946.
Following the return of competitive football there was to be no immediate success for Oldham Athletic. They finished 19th in the first league season after the war and manager Frank Womack resigned. In spite of reaching a more respectable 6th place under his successor Billy Wooton in 1949, it wasn't until the appointment of George Hardwick as player-manager in November 1950 that the club found any real form.
Hardwick's appointment came at a cost, with a £15,000 transfer fee paid to Middlesbrough. This was a huge amount at the time, especially for a third division club, but it was to stir up the town and its fans, who now looked forward to seeing a man who had been captain of England only two years previously in charge of its club's fortunes. In Hardwick's first full season in charge they finished 4th after topping the table for a considerable time. Home gates stayed high, with an amazing 33,450 watching a 1–0 win over local rivals Stockport County in March 1952, after a January game in the snow had established a new club scoring record when Chester City were beaten 11–2. Eric Gemmell scored seven of these to establish an individual club record for one game which still stands to date. The season after, Oldham Athletic proudly finished champions of the division and won promotion to the Second Division. With an ageing squad and little money to recruit however, the season that followed was a massive disappointment. Only eight games were won, Oldham finished in last place and quickly returned to the Third Division North, where a first equally disappointing season saw them finish no higher than 10th.
Hardwick resigned in 1955 and between then and 1960, they continued to struggle, finishing below the top 20 on three occasions. With a 15th place finish in 1958–59, Oldham became a founding member of a newly formed Fourth Division. In the following season they finished in the 23rd position – their lowest position in the entire League, and had to apply for reelection, which they passed as the League chose to drop Gateshead, who had finished above them, in favour of newcomers Peterborough United.
Ken Bates entered the picture at Oldham Athletic in the early 1960s, and along with the appointment of manager Jack Rowley, the club's fortunes turned for the better. During the 1962–63 season, Oldham Athletic again gained promotion to the Third Division as Rowley left as manager. Over the next six seasons, Oldham struggled with consistency in the league and at the manager position—with Les McDowall, Gordon Hurst and Jimmy McIlroy all spending time at the managerial position.
In the 1968–69, Jack Rowley once more returned as manager. With their inconsistency, Rowley and Bates could not save the club from a last place finish and inevitable relegation. Midway through the 1969–70 season, Rowley and Bates both left the club as Jimmy Frizzell became the Latics manager—a position he held for the next 13 seasons.
Jimmy Frizzell, a Scottish-born defender, became Oldham's player-manager during the 1969–70 season. In the 1970–71 season, Oldham saw their best result since 1962–63 as they finished in third place, earning promotion back to the Third Division. After a mid-table finish in their first season, the Latics missed out on promotion—finishing in 4th place, seven points behind league champions Bolton Wanderers. In the 1973–74 season, the Latics finished in 1st place and return to the Second Division for the first time in 21 years. Oldham's trip back to the Second Division was more successful than their previous appearance. During Frizzell's remaining time at the club, the Latics remained in the Second Division, but with little FA Cup and Football League Cup success.
In June 1982, the club appointed Joe Royle as manager and a new era was underway. Royle's side finished 7th in his first season in charge and fall to 19th spot finish in his second. In the 1986–87 season, Oldham narrowly missed promotion to the First Division finishing three points behind Portsmouth and losing in the inaugural playoffs.
Royle's Latics reached Wembley Stadium in the 1990 Football League Cup Final versus Nottingham Forest, where they lost 1–0. The next season, Oldham did not have the same cup success, but instead found success by winning the Second Division and returning to First Division for the first time in 68 years. In their first season back in the top flight, the club finished in 17th and became one of the founding members of the newly-formed Premier League. Though after two more seasons at the top level, Oldham faced relegation yet again and during the following season, the Joe Royle era at Oldham Athletic came to an end, as he left the club for Everton.
During this era, Oldham Athletic reached the FA Cup semi-finals twice, both times losing to Manchester United after a replay. In 1994 Oldham Athletic were just a minute away from winning 1–0 in extra time when a Mark Hughes equaliser for Manchester United saw the game at Wembley Stadium end in a 1–1 draw, and Oldham were crushed 4–1 in the replay at Maine Road. Many fans of Oldham in the years since described the last minute equaliser by Mark Hughes as a decline that Oldham have never recovered from. Oldham failed to win any of their 7 remaining league games in the Premier League and were relegated on the final day of the season after a 1–1 draw at Norwich City.
Oldham's side of the late 1980s and early 1990s featured several players who were then sold to much bigger clubs. Mike Milligan, a highly rated young Irish midfielder who was a product of Oldham's youth system, was sold to Everton for £1million in 1990, but returned to Boundary Park a year later after an unsuccessful season on Merseyside. At the same time, Oldham sold Milligan's fellow countryman Denis Irwin to Manchester United for £625,000, and over the next 12 years the Cork born defender won a host of domestic and European honours. Earl Barrett, another defender who played a crucial part in Oldham's cup runs and promotion success, was sold to Aston Villa for £1.7million in February 1992. At the time he was one of Britain's most expensive defenders, and would go on to win a League Cup winner's medal at Aston Villa (just missing out on a title medal) as well as playing more than 200 top division games before finally retiring in 2000.
Graeme Sharp took over as Oldham's player-manager on the departure of Joe Royle in November 1994, but he was unable to mount a promotion challenge and the pressure continued to build up a year later when Oldham narrowly avoided relegation. Relegation to Division Two happened at the end of the 1996–97 season, just after Sharp had resigned to be succeeded by Neil Warnock.
As one of the biggest clubs in Division Two for 1997–98, and being managed by Warnock who had achieved no less than five promotions with other clubs in the last 11 years, Oldham Athletic were tipped for an immediate return to Division One, but they finished a disappointing 13th in the league and Warnock resigned. Veteran striker Andy Ritchie took over as player-manager, but he too failed to mount a promotion challenge and was sacked in October 2001 to be succeeded by Mick Wadsworth.
In 2001, Oxford based businessman Chris Moore purchased Oldham Athletic, vowing to take the club back to Premier League football within five years. Wadsworth quit as manager in the summer of 2002 to make way for Iain Dowie, who transformed Oldham's fortunes on the pitch as they made their first serious challenge for promotion in Division Two. Oldham finished fifth and their promotion dreams were ended in the playoffs, and their fans were furious when Moore decided to end his interest with the club—leaving behind large debts and a weak squad, and after selling the better players at a fraction of their market value at the time. For a while it looked as though the club would go out of business, but a takeover deal was soon completed.
In 2004–05, Simon Blitz and two other partners, Simon Corney and Danny Gazal, purchased Oldham Athletic, trying to rescue the club from possible liquidation. While trying to repay debts, Oldham struggled for several seasons—barely avoiding relegation once more in 2004–05. In the 2006–07, Oldham's fortune turned for the better once more as the club narrowly missed out on promotion —losing to Blackpool 5–2 on aggregate in the play-off semi-final. After two years with the club, manager John Sheridan was sacked on 15 March 2009, immediately being replaced by former manager Joe Royle. After being offered the job on a permanent basis, Royle rejected the offer and announced that he would be leaving the club after the final game of the season. Darlington F.C. boss Dave Penney was announced as Royle's successor on 30 April 2009, though Royle still was in charge until season's end.
Dave Penney was dismissed as Oldham manager on 6 May 2010, with his assistant, Martin Gray, taking over as caretaker manager for the final game of season 2009–10. During June 2010, Paul Dickov was named as Oldham Athletic player-manager signing a one year contract, and left his position as manager on 3 February 2013. As of the 2012–13 season, they are presently clinging onto their League One status.
Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
In the history of the club, only three managers have won a league title: George Hardwick (Division 3 North, 1953), Jimmy Frizzell (Division 3, 1974) and Joe Royle (Division 2, 1991). Frizzell also won promotion from Division 4 in 1971 (3rd place), as did Jack Rowley from the runners-up spot in 1963.
However, arguably the most successful manager in the club's history is David Ashworth. Appointed in 1906, he guided them to the Lancashire Combination Championship and promotion to the Football League in his first season. After just 3 seasons in Division 2, in 1910 the club won promotion to the top flight of English football following a 2nd place finish. For the next four years Ashworth maintained the club's smooth progress. They finished season 1913–14 in 4th place, only for Ashworth to move to Stockport County, leaving his successor Herbert Bamlett to take the team to its best ever league placing the season after, when they finished runners-up to Everton, missing out on the League Championship by just one point.
Meanwhile, at the end of World War 1, Ashworth emerged as manager of Liverpool, guiding them to the League Championship in 1921–22, after they had finished 4th in his previous two seasons. Although he then took what seemed to many to be a strange decision, moving back to Oldham in a brave but failed attempt to save them from relegation in 1923, he remains the only Oldham Athletic manager ever to have won the Football League Championship with any club.
After playing at what was originally called Athletic Ground, the ground was opened for Oldham's first football club—Oldham County F.C. In 1899, after County had folded, Pine Villa moved into the ground and renamed the club and stadium. The stadium is located on the Oldham side of the conjunction of Oldham, Chadderton and Royton, and has a current capacity of 10,638. The stadium currently only has three stands, with one undergoing construction as the original was demolished in June 2008. Before the demolition of the fourth stand, the stadium had a capacity of 13,624.
In February 2006, the club unveiled plans for reconstruction of the stadium. After initially being rejected by Oldham Council, the decision was overturned with permission for the entire ground to be redeveloped. The ground was expected to seat 16,000 and cost approximately £80 million. On 5 September 2008, Simon Blitz announced on World Soccer Daily podcast that due to the economic problems in England, the development of the stadium was placed on hold temporarily.
On 22 July 2009, the club and Oldham Council unveiled plans for an entirely new, £20 million stadium to be located in Failsworth. The club made an agreement with BAE Systems to purchase a 30-acre (120,000 m2) piece of land, on which the club plans to build a 12,000 capacity arena along with other leisure and corporate facilities.
On 28 July 2011 the Council offered the club £5.7 million to help with their redevelopment fund of Boundary Park, which would involve redevelopment of the Broadway Stand, time will tell whether the club will accept the Councils offer.
Initial preparatory work began on the site for the new North Stand at Boundary Park in mid-May 2013. The proposed stand is to have a 2,500 capacity for spectators and will contain various other non-matchday facilities such as a health and fitness suite and supporters bar. The stand is scheduled to be constructed during the 2013-14 league season and the club hopes it will be completed for the beginning of the 2014-2015 season.
As their more regular traditional rivals such as Manchester City, Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers and Stockport County are no longer regular opponents, the Latics have maintained local rivalry, particularly in more recent times, with West Yorkshire clubs Huddersfield Town, Leeds United and Bradford City.
Dislike for Manchester United is also very common and often eclipses more traditional rivalries amongst Oldham supporters, partly fuelled by the FA Cup Semi Final meetings in 1990 and 1994, and partly due to the large number of Manchester United supporters living in the Oldham area.
Conversely, Oldham Athletic have a long-standing supporters friendship with Eintracht Frankfurt of Germany. Eintracht Frankfurt have a small following who often make the journey to Oldham Athletic games at Boundary Park.
Latics originally started out playing in red and white hooped shirts with blue shorts, bearing strong similarities to the Oldham Rugby League Club colours. The red stripes were eventually replaced with blue, before this was in turn replaced by a white shirt with the blue stripe down the middle, this shirt was rumoured to have been influenced by the Ajax Amsterdam shirt of the times. In the mid-1960s, under the ownership of Ken Bates, the strip was changed to tangerine shirts with blue shorts. In the mid-1970s the club adopted an all blue shirt, and these colours have been worn ever since, with the exception of the red and blue hooped shirt that was used the late 1990s. This shirt proved unpopular amongst supporters and caused kit clashing problems, resulting in opposition teams occasionally having to wear Oldham's away kit. The club brought back the colours from the 1960s as an away kit for the 2007–08 season and this proved to be popular amongst the supporters. Home and away shirts currently bear the slogan "keep the faith" as a result of the financial turmoil the club faced in 2004. On 27 April, it was announced on a new website set up by the club (wearelatics.co.uk) that there is to be a new crest for the club. This new badge is going to be shown on the new away kit for the 2011–12 season, and be introduced to the home kit for the following season. The badge contains the traditional blue and white colours, however there is no longer any red visible; there is still an image of an owl, yet it is no longer atop a football.
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