Tom O’Dea discusses his team Oldham Athletic
Hi my name is Tom I am 39 years of age and I work as an indoor Postal Worker. I have been a Oldham fan all my life and it was my older Brother who really got me into watching the team. Seeing him going to games and his enthusiasm but the 1989/90 season in which we reached the League Cup Final and FA Cup Semi Final really gripped me. Also watching the highlights of us beating West Ham 6-0 (the famous St Valentines Massacre) on my 7th birthday. Then the summer of Italia 90 I had well and truly caught the football bug. The following August the first home game of the 1990/91 season, my Dad took me to my first ever home game – we beat Leicester 2-0 when I was stood in the Rochdale Road End which was that full we got moved to the main stand.
I still have the Tangerine scarf my Dad gave me at that game today. It was the year we won the second division championship and got promoted to the top flight. I was lucky to be at Wembley in 1994. Port Vale was my first away in 1996. I started doing away games from 2001 onwards, spending many Saturday afternoons watching the boys all over the country and a few times abroad.
It’s been a mixed one. I’ve attended four games and until the takeover was completed I chose to boycott home games under the previous owners. Bamber Bridge was a 0-0, our first game which was more about the players just having a run out, getting into shape and knowing each others games, strenghs and weaknesses. Wigan at home by all accounts we played well first half, but second half heads dropped and we changed things around and Wigan won 3-1
Bradford Park Avenue we lost 2 0, it was a great performance but most of the more experienced players didn’t really play and I wouldn’t expect many of that team to be anywhere near the starting XI against Torquay. Mansfield we lost 3-0 and you could see why they will be a team pushing for promotion. Radcliffe I was late arriving, we won 2-1 and I missed all the goals! But it was our best performance pre-season. we played well, looked decent and organised. Fylde we lost 2-1. It wasn’t a great performance, showed we are still a little weak in midfield, and we still need some speed, pace and creativity in the team.
I try not to look too much into pre-season but it’s also clear where we need to improve and still need to bring a few more players in.
The most high-profile player has been the return of striker Chris Porter who scored 28 goals for us between 2005 and 2007, he is now aged 38. Liam Hogan who was captain of last season’s National League Champions Stockport has signed, along with fellow team mate Lois Maynard, who can play in both midfield and defence. Jordan Windass, a midfielder and son of former player Dean Windass, has signed from Bradford Park Avenue.
Former midfielder Dan Gardner has returned to the club from Doncaster and brings much needed experience. Zaine Sebastian Francis Angol has joined from Hartlepool, he has played for numerous clubs at this level. Defender Nathan Sheron from Harrogate has also signed and goalkeeper Magnus Norman from Carlisle. Also midfielders Luke Burguess and Ben Tollitt who can both play out wide. At present we also have a number of trialists at the club, two of them are vastly experienced players Leon Legge and Charlie Cooper.
I think the signing of Liam Hogan is a fantastic one. Early impressions show to me something we have lacked for a while and that is a real leader on the pitch who doesn’t look afraid to get stuck in and also shout his mouth off. Despite his age I think there is still goals in Chris Porter at this level. I don’t expect him to start every game or play a full 90 mins week in week out. He could also be used as an impact player and brought on if needed.
Mike Fondop joined in January, playing two games before he got injured. His second half performance at Newport scoring two goals, showing not only that he has goals in him but can cause problems for defences. Young Harry Vaughan made an impression last season, as did young Will Sutton who was thrown in at the deep end. Junior Luamba scored a couple of important goals last season. Adam Tollett has scored two already this pre-season and first impressions of Angol look promising. Hopefully see much better performances this year from Hallum Hope and Harrison McGahey.
EXPECTATIONS FOR 22/23
A month ago I’d have settled for survival and getting rid of the Lemsagams Brothers (Then the Owners). Now they have gone and we have fresh owners, the stakes are higher and some peoples expectations have gone through the roof. For me I would love us to be crowned champions or at least make the play offs. Being realistic we still have a lot work to do on the pitch, therefore I take a top half finish, a good cup run and get some stability and normality back at the club, and get everything running correctly so we can get it right both on and off the pitch.
The manager is John Sheridan and he is now in his sixth spell in charge at the club. The guy is a legend here. Last season he came in January, we looked dead and buried in his first couple of games, started to turn things around and sadly performances dipped injuries kicked in and we couldn’t avoid the drop. It was a big ask but the damage was done IMO at the start of the season and replacing Keith Curle with youth team coach Selim Benachour. Last season we played more of a direct style under Shez, in a relegation battle I can accept it’s all about just winning and grafting one out..
Having watched us pre-season I hope this isn’t his plan for this season. I accept in the National League we will face teams who will park the bus or play for 1 nils or draws. We need to break teams down, attack them, try to play them off the park. We have strikers but feel we haven’t been clinical enough in attack, I also feel we have looked both weak and lightweight in midfield. We need someone to dictate and boss the midfield to win those second balls, help break teams down and be creative.
We have signed Dan Gardner so at this level he knows will be a massive boost, with both Burguess and Tollitt available I’d love to see Shez put emphasis on using both wings. Hopefully Shez will play two strikers in attack not necessary in a 4-4-2 formation, I worry he may just play a single striker at times. Another option may be to use Windass and Angol as wing backs. My worry is most of the squad are quite oldish, we don’t have a lot of pace or speed.
This wouldn’t be mine but based on friendlies so far Norman, Clarke, Francis-Angol, Hogan, Mcgahey, Stobbs, Gardner, Porter, Hope, Sheron, Tollitt.
I think at least 600 plus, and it was announced yesterday they will now be running a coach for away fans (which should happen every game but due to the previous owners and the on-going takeover) Seems lots are staying over on the Friday and the 7.3am train from Manchester seems to be full of Oldham fans. We also have a couple of fans who live in Torquay. It’s been a fixture we wanted for years ideally in a higher league and glad it’s in the summer. Plus, the Oasis (Oldham supporters in South) who bring a good few also.
Having watched us pre-season and always the optimistic I will predict a 2-1 Oldham win, kick off the season in a style, although it’s worth noting we haven’t won an opening day fixture since beating Stevenage away 4-3 in 2013.