Sunday, 18 September 2016

Oldham Athletic - Boundary Park (or Park)

Oldham 0-0 Chesterfield

10th September 2016

A kick-in-the-arse off a 500-mile round trip for this one: and the bugger finished nil-nil!

And not even one of those mildly manic end-to-end encounters which wind up scoreless due to hapless finishing by both sets of forwards; nor even one of those absorbing tactical stalemates, which only a neutral can truly appreciate.  This was just a rubbish game; with play generally bogged down in midfield, and neither side seemingly having the guile to carve out any clear-cut opportunities.  

The post-match stats showed both teams to have rustled up a good half-a-dozen shots on target each, but in truth none of these really troubled either goalkeeper.  Although it has to be said both stoppers did their best to inject some entertainment value into what little they did have to do: palming or punching away strikes when gathering in looked a far easier, if admittedly less visually stimulating, option.

Although I appear to to recall someone in home colours (?Billy McKay) striking the outside of a post.  

The visitors had in their ranks the infamous Ched Evans but, one lung-bursting scamper down the Oldham left flank apart, he really succeeded in achieving little of note.  I had seen him turn out for Sheffield United a few seasons back, where he looked lean, hungry and sharp.  Here he just looked lean and hungry.  Whatever forms of preparation H.M. Hotels offer to help inmates integrate back into society, it appears match-fitness is not one such.  

I heard but a single home fan booing the forward on a couple of occasions, but even this individual ceased once he realised no-one else was remotely interested in joining in.  Evans is, of course, presently awaiting re-trial for rape, and whilst not attempting to pre-judge the outcome in any way at all I do wonder if, should he be acquitted, an apology from Jess Ennis may be forthcoming.

Oldham Athletic v Chesterfield - September 2016

Oldham Athletic v Chesterfield - September 2016

The North Stand, Boundary Park

Leading the line for the home-side this afternoon was Lee Erwin, whom I knew well from his time this side of the border.  I also sort of knew his father, or to be strictly accurate, saw his father play a few times.  Dad Harry Erwin had enjoyed a bit of cult status for much of the 1980s; he being a scarily efficient centre-half for the likes of Stenhousemuir and Alloa Athletic.  Although, when I saw him perform he was carrying a few extra pounds and, as many Stirlingshire and Lanarkshire based former seniors did back then, picking up a pension with Linlithgow Rose in the junior grades.  

Son Lee, perhaps best known up here for his part in helping to initiate the post-match rammy which took place after the Motherwell/Rangers promotion play-off match in 2015, had moved south to Leeds United a few weeks after that bun-fight.  Twelve goalless appearances later, he had been punted out on loan first to Bury before, this season, Oldham Athletic.

He had broken his sixteen-month goal drought with a strike against Shrewsbury last time out, but this afternoon he looked totally ineffective, it pains me to say.  I do appreciate the lad is only 21 years old and is still learning his trade, but I feel a move back north to the likes of Kilmarnock or Hibernian looks in the post.

Of the rest of the home lot, the tall rangy Ollie Banks (who had just arrived at Boundary Park from Chesterfield) looked the most accomplished on show.  The composed Charles Dunn impressed, as did former Manchester City and St Johnstone winger Lee Croft, who did his best to inject some urgency into proceedings after he came on to replace Ryan Flynn       

The Oldham fans around me in the Main Stand appeared a singularly downtrodden lot, apparently meekly resigned to sitting through yet another bleak scoreless league encounter: this being the third they had been compelled to endure this season so far.  And it was only mid-September.  

(As I write this blog – a week late, I note without surprise The Latics have just racked up another 0-0, at Coventry this afternoon.  Talk about testing your supporters’ patience.)

Tom Anderson (Chesterfield) & Billy McKay (Oldham)

Lee Irwin with Anderson this time

Quite what Peter Clarke and Charles Dunne have found so
interesting to their left, when all the other players are
intent upon the ball, I have no idea

Ched Evans hits a free-kick over the top....

....whilst Oldham's Josh Law curls one straight into the arms of Spirites' 'keeper Ryan Fulton.

Charles Dunne (Oldham Athletic) & Ched Evans (Chesterfield)

Synchronised Scottish Sock-pulling-up by Paul McGinn (L) & Lee Irwin

Panorama of Boundary Park, Oldham

Panorama of Boundary Park, Oldham

Panorama of Boundary Park, Oldham

Boundary Park is a pleasing jumble of the new and the old, presently boasting three relatively modern stands – the most recent being the trim North Stand, opened as recently as last season.

Perhaps inevitably, it was to the old did I gravitate.  The views were fine from here, even with a collection of pillars.  The stand fails to run the whole length of the pitch, and either side of the construction there is a gloriously messy collection of huts and portakabins.  Plus two cordoned off areas of long since disused terracing, which I just itched to sneak onto.

A view along the seating in the Main Stand.
The seats themselves were comfortable enough,
but were woefully short on leg room.

No entry.

Outside Boundary Park.

A bewildering iron jungle at the corner between the Main Stand and the Rochdale Road End

Boundary Park from along Furtherwood Road

There is something pleasingly reassuring about this retro lettering.

Outside Boundary Park.

The exterior to the recently opened North Stand.


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