Oldham Athletic v Preston North End
Saturday, October 6th 2012, 3pm
An early start from Kent, for my daughter and I. But there was plenty of anticipation, as given recent form there was every chance that Preston would get something from the match, and the reviews of the ground meant that there was plenty to look forward to. After a brief detour to the Croydon area to collect two colleagues, the journey by car continued smoothly with no delays apart from a brief spell of stop/start as is usual on the Cheshire gap on the M6.
Once I had accessed the M60, the ground was located very easily by exiting the Manchester Orbital at the junction for Chadderton and thence following signs towards Rochdale. Just before reaching the start of the A627(M) we spied the traditional looking floodlight pylons to our right and homed in on them.
Parking was a doddle, on a large area of hard standing next to the ground for £4, and as we had arrived early there was no queue to get near either.
As the guide indicates, Boundary Park is a 3 sided affair, which whilst looking odd, it does from the outside, give you an early glimpse of those rows of empty seats soon to be filled for a derby match. and my senses of anticipation were only heightened at such a sight, complete with those lovely old floodlight pylons.
Another excellent plus of the set-up at Boundary Park is the away seating being unreserved. So the early bird catches that worm of getting seats that afford good views, with an aisle seat for the little-one so she can still see most of the action even when all and sundry suddenly stand up.
Sadly, from that point, it went downhill; the much praised pies that I was looking forward too? Well when I went to source food well before half-time I was told that they had run out of ALL hot food completely, which I thought was pretty poor planning and catering. Some of the stewarding seemed banal, with one individual at one point insisting that my 8 year old daughter actually sat down. To keep the peace we co-operated, but it seemed utterly daft to pick on a child who wasn't obstructing any-ones views, when there were some 800+ of our more "yobbish" support jumping up and down to our right.
The fayre on the pitch was decidedly poor too, although we would be slightly biased as we got hammered by a 3-1 score-line that flattered us, especially as our goal 'ghosted' in at pretty much the last dying embers of the game.
Atmosphere too was pretty disappointing; I was expecting more 'banter', but the home fans only found any voice at all after their second goal went in.
At the final whistle we headed for our car, and joined the queue to get out of the narrow exit, which was to be expected, but once clear and on the open road, we sailed out of town with ease.
Not the happiest of days. Oldham hadn't won any match at home all season, till Preston turned up and happily obliged with a very lacklustre performance indeed. Coupled with the shabby catering, less than family-friendly stewarding, and less of an atmosphere than might have been expected left a disappointing taste in the mouth.
Overall though, we had a good chinwag in the car up and down. Just a shame about the 90 minutes in the middle of the day!
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