Oldham Athletic v Tranmere Rovers
Saturday, November 10th 2012, 3pm
1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):
This was always going to be an interesting one; Rovers were top of the league and Oldham is one of our shortest away trips. It was also to be my first away game of the season, so I was really looking forward to it, and bought the tickets a long time in advance.
2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?
The day did not get off to the best possible start as, typically, our coach arrived 20 minutes late! However, the journey to the ground was an easy one for the five coaches and multitude of cars that made the short journey from Merseyside; just over an hour, and the floodlights were visible from just off the motorway, so an easy ground to spot. Obviously, travelling by coach meant that we had no problem with parking, but there was a large muddy area right in front of the stadium for cars, with coaches parked to one side.
3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?
Having arrived later than intended, and with large queues already at the turnstiles, we decided to decline any pre-match exploration of the local area, and, after mingling outside for a while, and after buying a programme, went in.
4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?
As aforementioned, the floodlights were easily visible from a long way away, but upon arriving, I must admit that I was not particularly impressed. Firstly, the ground itself has evidently seen better days and, despite the charm of the old stands, having to ascend a muddy hill on the way to the away end is never a good first impression!
As this was only a short trip for us, the visiting support had been designated the entire away end (Rochdale Road), and we turned out in good number, with over 1,250 filling half of the stand (the other half had been closed for some reason). The missing stand, whilst provoking a few chants of “where’s your stand gone?,” and leaving the ground exposed to freezing blasts of wind, does give a nice view over the peak district. Also, with only two stands available for home support, this meant that these were both full, with about 3,000 home fans turning up, which should have meant a good atmosphere.
5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc…
Having heard rumours about the pies, I felt obliged to try one (chicken balti), which was indeed very nice; the programme actually had a whole section dedicated to pies from other clubs in the league – special feature on Hartlepool’s chicken and mushroom!! Alcohol was on sale throughout the game, and toilets were the usual football league standards (and that’s by no means a good thing!).
Regarding the game itself, a fairly even first half came to life towards the end, when Rovers had three clear cut chances to take the lead, but squandered them all. Oldham played well enough without a major cutting edge, and, apart for one scramble in our box and one very good save from the keeper, the home side didn’t threaten too much. The missing stand kept proving a pain, as the ball went over it at least a dozen times.
Our fans didn’t stop singing all game, despite the drummer being quite badly out of time (!), and it was easily the best atmosphere I’ve been to so far this season. I wasn’t the only one not too impressed by the ground, and many made their feelings clear via some derogatory chanting about Oldham. Apart from this, the fans on both sides were on their best behaviour, and there were no reports of trouble. The home fans were very suspiciously quiet, and didn’t even respond to a few chants of “you’re supposed to be at home.” Although, the lack of home fans within 50 metres of ours did not help the atmosphere, which was pretty much all away support, apart from one audible chant about hating scousers, which we joined in with!
In the second half, Rovers went on the attack and, minutes after hitting the bar, Adam McGurk volleyed home a free kick on 54 minutes, sending the away fans wild; we didn’t sit down again until after at least 20 minutes had passed. Despite us scoring so early in the second half, I was disappointed to notice several home fans leaving as soon as we scored, although there was more than half an hour left! The game ended with Oldham punting long balls forward, in search of an equaliser, and, after a nervy six minutes injury time, and some good defending, the full time whistle sent our fans into uproar. Stewards were hardly noticed - always a good thing - although most of us were standing up for long periods of the game.
6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:
Not as easy as getting in – it took at least 20 minutes for our coach to get out of the ground. Not that we cared, as Sheff United had lost to MK Dons, and we were top of the league by 5 points!
7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:
A nice day out, a good result although a message to all away fans: wrap up warm (third highest league ground in England) and bring a cap; the sun was murder in the first half! Beware also of the weather – we experienced torrential rain, bright sunshine and hail stones in close proximity. I would recommend the pies, though minus two points for calling the programme the “Matchday Magazine” and the lack of student concessions; £20 for a ticket for anyone over 15 in League One is pretty poor.
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