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Opposition Profile: Oldham Athletic

10 June 2017

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A new feature where we take a closer look at who Rovers will face in League One next season.

Oldham Athletic

Founded: 1895
Nickname: Latics

Founded in 1895 as Pine Villa FC, Oldham Athletic, as they became known, began life playing in the Manchester and Lancashire leagues. Following the demise of rivals Oldham County FC in 1899, Pine Villa FC moved into their stadium, then known as the Athletic Ground, and subsequently changed their name to Oldham Athletic.

Like many other Lancashire clubs, the start of the 20th Century proved to be one of the most successful periods in the club’s history. The Latics gained acceptance into the Football League in 1907 and after just three years, they found themselves promoted to the First Division.

It wasn’t long until Oldham had announced themselves as serious contenders, finishing fourth in the First Division in 1912-13 and reaching the first of their three FA Cup semi-final appearances the same season, losing out 1-0 to eventual winners Aston Villa.

The 1914-15 season would provide the Latics with their highest league position to date, however, at the time, it was little consolation for the Lancashire side as Everton claimed the title on the final day by a single point.

Oldham’s meteoric rise would be halted by the outbreak of the First World War. When the Football League had reconvened in 1919, many of the Latics squad had either retired or died in conflict. They would eventually lose their top-flight status in 1923 and would not return for another 68 years.

The Lancashire side would find themselves plying their trade in the Third Division North for much of the next three decades until, in 1952, George Hardwick steered the club back into the Second Division. Success was to be short-lived as Hardwick’s men were soon relegated straight back to the third tier the following season, having won only eight games.

Much-travelled chairman Ken Bates began his involvement in football with Oldham in the early 1960s and following the appointment of Jack Rowley, turned the club’s fortunes around.

A return to the Third Division from the newly-formed Fourth Division followed shortly after, where the club stayed for the next six seasons. However, inconsistent results and a managerial merry-go-round saw the Latics fail to gain promotion and they soon found themselves back in the fourth tier in Rowley’s second stint in charge.

Jimmy Frizzell, a Scottish-born defender, became Oldham's player-manager during the 1969-70 season and oversaw two promotions with the Latics to take them back to the Second Division for the first time in 21 years.

1982 would see Oldham make a pivotal appointment that would see the good times return to Boundary Park. Former England striker Joe Royle took to the helm and would oversee a period of unprecedented success for the Latics in the modern era.

Royle would lead his side to the 1990 League Cup final as the club went in search of their first major silverware. A narrow 1-0 defeat to defending champions Nottingham Forest at Wembley sent the Latics fans home disappointed, however, more success would quickly follow.

Oldham’s 68-year wait for top-flight football ended in 1991, as they claimed the Second Division crown. They went on to consolidate their place in the top tier and in doing so became one of the founder members of the newly-formed Premier League.

The Latics survived on the final day of the inaugural Premier League season after Crystal Palace failed to win their final game, resulting in Royle’s men staying up on goal difference. However, they would soon feel the Eagles dejection themselves, following relegation to Division One the season after, thanks to a final day defeat at Norwich City.

During the Royle era, Oldham reached the FA Cup semi-finals twice, both times losing to Manchester United after a replay. In 1994, Royle’s men were less than a minute away from winning 1-0 in extra-time when an equaliser from former Rovers boss Mark Mughes for United saw the game at Wembley end in a 1-1 draw and Oldham were soundly beaten 4-1 in the replay at Maine Road.

The Latics were relegated to Division Two in 1997, where they remain to this day.

The Manager: John Sheridan

Born in Stretford, Lancashire, in 1964, Sheridan joined Manchester City in 1981, but never played for the first team, before moving to Leeds United in July 1982. He would go on to make over 250 appearances for the Elland Road side before moving to Nottingham Forest for £650,000. His time at Forest would be short-lived, making just one appearance for the Reds before moving to Sheffield Wednesday.

It was at the Owls where Sheridan would enjoy his most successful spell as a player and gain his only major silverware. His superb long-range effort decided the 1990-91 League Cup final against Manchester United at Wembley, giving the Steel City club a 1-0 victory.

After spells at Birmingham City, Bolton Wanderers and Doncaster Rovers, the midfielder finished his playing career at Oldham, making over 150 appearances for the Latics and acting as caretaker player-manager on two occasions.

In 2006, Sheridan took the reins at Oldham on a permanent basis and guided the club to a play-off position, where eventual winners Blackpool knocked them out in the semi-finals.

In March 2009, former manager Joe Royle replaced him at the Latics and three months later he took the helm at League Two side Chesterfield, who he guided to promotion in 2011.

The following season Sheridan guided the Spirites to the Football League Trophy, however the club’s poor league form saw them relegated back to League Two at the first time of asking.

After spells at Plymouth and Newport County, he was named as Oldham manager for a second time in January 2016, guiding them to League One safety.

The end of the season saw him agree a three-year contract with Notts County, however he lasted little over six months in charge after a club record equalling nine successive defeats.

He re-joined the Latics for a third spell in charge in January and guided them to a 17th-place finish.

The Stadium: Boundary Park

Boundary Park was originally known as the Athletic Ground when it opened in 1896 for Oldham's first professional football club, Oldham County FC, and has a capacity of 13,500.

In 1986, the club installed an artificial pitch in order to generate more income for the club, but they reverted back to a grass pitch at the end of 1990-91 season.

Boundary Park is anecdotally known as being the coldest ground in the Football League, earning the nickname coined by Joe Royle, Ice Station Zebra, after the John Sturges film of the same name. It is the third-highest stadium, at 509 feet above sea level, of any Premier League or Football League club.

Last Season: 17th, League One

2016-17 saw Oldham compete in their 20th consecutive League One season, however the Latics enjoyed little success throughout the campagin.

A poor start to the season saw the Latics bottom of the table at Christmas and ultimately cost then-manager Steve Robinson his job.

The appointment of John Sheridan for his third stint in charge saw a change in fortunes for Oldham and he eventually guided them to a 17th-place finish.

Last Meeting: November 8th 2016

The last meeting between the two clubs came in last season’s Checkatrade Trophy Group D - North, as Oldham Athletic faced Damien Johnson’s development squad.

A first-half Anthony Stokes goal and a sensational long-range effort from Liam Feeney in the second half had twice put Rovers in front, but goals from Freddie Ladapo and Brian Wilson pegged the hosts back on both occasions.

With the scores level at 2-2 after normal time, a penalty shout-out decided the tie. Feeney saw Rovers’ final spot-kick saved by Connor Ripley to send the Latics into the knockout stages of the competition.

***Just 11 days to go until the 2017-18 EFL fixtures are released, on Wednesday June 21st***

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