Tuesday, 3 March 2009
Oldham Athletic v Leeds United Mar 2nd 2009
The Happy Chocker, Welly and I left Yorkshire in good spirits for our traverse of the Peninnes to the Red Rose county. Hopes were high of another Leeds victory against promotion rivals as we picked our way through the heavy traffic on the M62. In the car a raging debate over which is the highest ground in the football league was in full swing which eventually the HC gleefully claimed victory, via his mobile google, in proving that The Hawthorns is the highest place to watch Football in the football league. Welly was still convinced it was Oldham.
I dropped my erstwhile trivia experts at the ground and headed for the Executive Lounge. The present Mrs Marching on Together's journalist Uncle had provided a pass so that I could mingle with players, gentlemen of the press and Oldham officials before the match.
The first recognisable face was Dean Windass stalking the room with his mobile welded to his ear. When he'd finished I introduced myself and reminded him that in a previous life I had played against him when he was a teenage star at North Ferriby United. Now I could tell be his face that whilst recognising that dim and distant part of his past he wasn't too pleased with a 50 year old fan announcing the fact that he'd played against him and he made his apologies and left. It soon became apparent that he had more pressing worries as he had only made the bench for the evenings game and his "Premier League player ego" was taking a battering.
I wished Casper good luck as he appeared from the dressing room, maybe should have advised him to keep his legs shut? Neil Kilkenny then popped out to chat with old Oldham friends. I enquired if we was fit "No not really but I'm playing" he honestly answered in an unmistakable Aussie accent. After a quick chat with Adam Pope & Andy Ritchie (Radio Leeds) I found Uncle Tony to thank him for the invite.
After exchanging views on the match and the universe with Uncle Tony I left the lounge to catch up with the HC, Welly and brother Chris who had made the trip from deepest South Wales. On the way out of the lounge I bumped into Stuart Pearce looking for the Directors box presumably running the rule over Fab's progress.
The away end wasn't full but the faithful who had prised themselves from their sofa's to watch the match were in good voice. Oldham's fans were suitably decked out in Pink scarves, wigs and anything pink in support of the breast cancer charity, Pink Link and a look a like for Olive off "On the Buses" was collecting for the worthy cause amongst the hordes of whites fans.
So we'd had some fun before the match but all of that was about to stop as the match started with Oldham in their now famous shocking Pink kit. The first half was woeful as both teams treated the ball like a hot potato as it pinged between both teams as if they would have points deducted if they kept possession longer than 5 nano seconds...........so the Leeds fans settled for trying to break the decibel record for the ground with a good medley of all the old favourite songs. The Happy Chocker had queued for a Chilli pie for both of us..................now this pie must have been 2500'F in the centre ( why is that?) so we both learnt a new skill in trying to sing MOT whilst juggling scorching hot chilli around our mouths without taking the skin off the roof of our mouths! The only thing of note in the opening 20 minutes was the Leeds fans response to the weedy Oldham winger collapsing in a heap after being hit in the face by the ball.........."That's why your wearing Pink" they bellowed.........even the Oldham fans were chuckling. As the half ended an elongated rendition of "European champions" kept the whites fans amused.
So we didn't have much to discuss at half time but the words rubbish, garbage, awful and woeful abounded in everyones discussions around us. We had the pleasure in standing near two fans who had decided that Beckford was lazy and a f****** waste of time? This is the same Beckford who won us the game on Saturday? The other one was waging a one man war on Bradley Johnson. Now even Bradley's Mother would have known that her son was having a mare but nothing justified the vile that was directed his way. It amazes me how vitriolic some fans can be to players on their own team?
So in order to spice up proceedings in the 2nd half I confirmed to HC that this game had 0:0 written all over it.................and it worked as a minute later Oldham were in front after another comedy of errors in the Leeds defence starting with Delph losing the ball then Parker passed up the chance of clearing the ball before it found it's way to Hughes at he back post who steered the ball through Caspers legs into the goal. The Oldham fans in the two stands they populated erupted in joy as Hughes celebrated in front of them. Their joy was short lived as Leeds determination kicked in and within a minute we were level after Becchio rose above the pink shirts to plant a firm header into the Oldham net. Surely this was just the spark the match needed and for a time it looked as if we were in for a repeat of Saturday's nip and tuck game.........but it never quite happened. We had the better of the chances and anyone of Delph, Becchio, Beckford or Snoddy could have snatched the winner but on a night when the final ball decision of the team in white always seemed to be the wrong one it was perhaps fitting that the game ended all square. Mr Windass came on for the last 5 minutes but his only contribution was to get flagged for offside and not touch the ball once. If he's got a cat or a dog at home I hope they were hiddy when he got in or they would have got an almighty kicking!
Leeds battled well again but whilst I can't be disappointed with a point from this game I also have the feeling that it was 2 points lost and more worrying was the lack of cohesive football on view. I thought Kilkenny and Douglas rose above the general malaise along with Rui and Naylor at the back but others including Delph had a night they will soon forget.
The infamous Oldham car park was as difficult to get out of as ever and by the time we were on the M62 the game was well and truly forgotten and remarkably Football was not mentioned for the the rest of the trip home..............says it all really.
Onto Bristol away on Saturday and another test of our play off credentials. We need to avoid getting drawn into trench warfare as we were in this match if we are to progress. Can't wait.