Sleeping With The Enemy: An Oldham Fan Living In A Liverpool World

What do you do when you're a lifelong Oldham fan surrounded on all sides by Liverpool FC and you want your 18 month old daughter to keep the faith? You hope the Latics pull off an almighty shock in tonight's F.A Cup tie and salvage her football soul.
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What do you do when you're a lifelong Oldham fan surrounded on all sides by Liverpool FC and you want your 18 month old daughter to keep the faith? You hope the Latics pull off an almighty shock in tonight's F.A Cup tie and salvage her football soul.

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If only it was thus

What do you do when you're a lifelong Oldham fan surrounded on all sides by Liverpool FC and you want your 18 month old daughter to keep the faith? You hope the Latics pull off an almighty shock in tonight's F.A Cup tie and salvage her football soul.

You always want the best for your kids, but you should try to give them a freedom of choice. The only thing I will force on to my 18mth old daughter is something I feel strongly about, and that is that you can only support the team of your birthplace or that of your parents.

Obviously, being born in Boundary Park (the hospital, not the ground) and as a current Oldham season ticket holder, I’m already planning for the weekend road trips. Maya will don her Latics hat, gloves, scarf  and the several layers needed to visit one of the coldest grounds known to man and we will burn down the M62 for a normal Saturday 3pm kick off.

There’s just one thing standing in the way, fate. Liverpool always seemed to influence my life in some way. In the 80s my uncle studied up there, and although an Oldham supporter, I was a fan of John Barnes as he was class and looked a bit like me (more so now I weigh 19st).

In the 90s Joe Royle took us to the top flight and our first game was at Anfield where we led through an Earl Barrett goal before we lost 2-1 with Barnes scoring the winner. I went to all the home games I could but couldn’t afford to go away although there was loads of time to get to Anfield as (obviously as a founding member) we’d always be in the Prem!

In 1995, the year after Oldham were relegated from the Premier League, I moved up to Merseyside as a poor student back when poor people were still allowed to go to university. As the gap widened between the have and have-nots, it was highly unlikely I’d ever see us play them in their own yard.

Living in the land of the enemy, it’s hard not to feel surrounded by LFC fans. Most of my mates in the city, all of Lisa’s family, the next door neighbours, even my own little brother.

In the new millennium I met my girlfriend, Lisa, a red and a former neighbour of their reserve keeper Mike Hooper. Everything was still fine at this point, she loosely followed Liverpool and put up with my foul moods every weekend during the Dave Penny era.

Then in June 2010 two great things happened, Paul Dickov took charge at the club and Lisa gave birth to our daughter at Liverpool Women’s Hospital (maybe not ranked in that order, but we’ll see how this season goes). A decision had to be made - do I make Maya follow in my footsteps and a life of disappointment and sparse success? Or risk it and allow her to make her own and possibly the wrong choice?

Living in the land of the enemy, it’s hard not to feel surrounded by LFC fans. Most of my mates in the city, all of Lisa’s family, the next door neighbours, even my own little brother. All enticed by a resurgent team headed by a returning king, it’s hard not to be swayed by a club who may once again see the glory days of fourth place. The only thing I could do was to tell her that fate had decided her choice of team.

At just a month old Maya saw her first football match. As chance would have it Latics reserves had got through to the Lancashire Senior Cup final against Liverpool reserves. It was perfect; if we won she was a blue and if the reds won, well come on. Surely with the might of Warren Feeney & Pawel Abbott upfront, along with four other 1st teamers, against a load of youngsters we could beat these? After travelling to Leyland and losing three nil, I decided best 2 out of 3 (well it wasn’t really a proper game).

Some of you may ask ‘What about Everton?’ Well they had their chance and we beat them 1-0 at Goodison in the FA cup, retrospectively back in 2008. I had great pleasure rubbing friends bitter blue noses in it the day after that game, especially as I’d predicted the score line beforehand and they pissed themselves laughing. If only I was more willing to gamble on results with money rather than the allegiance of my child.

Maybe Dickov will be the new Royle and Kuqi the new, old Ritchie. Maybe Maya will just like Oldham anyway.

And so now fate brings us to this, the F.A. cup 3rd round Liverpool vs. Oldham on Jan 6th and the magic of the cup. A game that should secure the fate of my club for another few seasons at least and a game that may determine the fate of my daughter’s future. It will also decide whether I’ll need to have another kid that we make sure is born at Boundary Park.

I’m a realist but with it being Christmas if kids can believe in Santa then I can believe we can pull off a shock. I’m hoping that with Suarez potentially banned, a cheeky bid for Torres will come off and he’ll partner Carroll, meaning Latics won’t have to worry about defending. Maybe Dickov will be the new Royle and Kuqi the new, old Ritchie. Maybe Maya will just like Oldham anyway. Maybe it will be best 3 out of 5.

NB: I recently found out my dad used to support Man City and I’m now hoping Maya doesn’t do a Jack Charlton and exploit the ‘granny’ rule.

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