In many ways last Thursday morning was a microcosm of life as a Latics fan. A 6:30am alarm call saw me at Boundary Park for 7:00, where I, along with over a thousand others, queued for hours in the interminable wind and rain to get my hands on a ticket for Friday’s FA Cup third round game at Anfield.
Oldham Athletic supporters, indeed football supporters in general, are the worlds sickest masochists. Who else would put themselves through the weather conditions this corner of Lancashire can throw at you in December – causing two supporters to leave the queue with hypothermia – to ensure their presence at a game all and sundry will assure you is to end in emphatic defeat?
This madness is all part of the pursuit of fleeting moments of joy, such as this weekend’s late win over Notts County. After Boxing Day’s dire showing in the 1-0 defeat to then-managerless Hartlepool United one could have been forgiven for thinking Latics would struggle to score, let alone win for the rest of the season. Yet Paul Dickov’s side responded well to their festive setback, with Filipe Morais and Zander Diamond grabbing the goals that turned the Magpies’ 2-1 lead into a 3-2 home win.
This is not the first time Dickov’s side have bounced back in this manner. It has been a sign of the excellent never-say-die spirit in the Boundary Park changing room that following this season’s most disappointing set backs there have been positive results. A 4-1 thumping at Colchester United prompted a run of four games unbeaten, two consecutive defeats to Brentford and Exeter City were followed by unexpected victories over Scunthorpe United and MK Dons, plus a 2-0 home reverse to Bury was the catalyst for an unbeaten six game run featuring four victories.
So back to Anfield, where this spirit will be required in buckets – nay, tankers – when Latics travel along the M62 on Friday to meet their illustrious Premier League opponents. Whilst Oldham’s recent form has been patchy and key midfielder James Wesolowski is a doubt for the game Liverpool are due to welcome back their own midfield powerhouse Steven Gerrard. Whilst usually one would expect the Reds’ inspirational leader to sit out a game against lowly League One opponents it seems likely he will start in an effort to get minutes under his belt to prepare him for the second half of the season.
A look at the names on the team sheet the last time Liverpool played League One opposition earlier in the season at Exeter indicate that Gerrard is unlikely to be the only big name facing Dean Furman and his colleagues on Friday. Pepe Reina, Charlie Adam, Maxi Rodrigues and Luis Suarez all played that night, so it seems reasonable to expect Oldham to face a similar line up.
This may all seem rather daunting, but it is worth remembering one thing – on Friday some bookmakers had Blackburn at 20-1 to win at Old Trafford, with Latics at 14-1 to come away from Anfield with a win. As Rovers proved the bookmakers aren’t always right. Liverpool may be welcoming back Steven Gerrard, but Dickov can call upon Shefki Kuqi, Chris Taylor and Dean Furman with a sell-out 6,100 away following to spur them on. Whatever the result, it should be a night to remember.
Written by Christopher Platt, We Are Going Up’s Oldham Athletic Blogger
Chris tweets at @chrisbradman