Sports Journalism’s Forgotten Hero

One of the highlights of the week, when I was much younger, was reading the Oldham Athletic match report in Monday night’s Oldham Evening Chronicle.

The reporter on the early 1970’s was called Jim Williams and he wasn’t popular because he was biased in favour of the team, on the contrary, he could be quite vicious when provoked. It was his writing style and skill with words that caught the eye.

For the uninitiated, however, Jim’s match reports could easily have been mistaken for something other than an account of a game of football. Here’s an example from the opening paragraph of his piece from September 1971.

“Boundaries snare all our lives. The borders of talent or the twin ties of apathy and indifference lie hidden, like the unseen trip wire in the fog of everyday life to hold us to our allotted course.

The frontiers of personal achievement are hard to find and even harder to conquer. Occasionally, the frontiers are crossed, the shackles removed and, for all too brief moments there is fresh territory to explore new horizons to gaze upon.

When one of these occasions graces professional football – at any level – the effect is totally magnetic, demanding the attention and holding it with an unseen yet almost tangible force”

We beat Bristol Rovers 3-2 in case anyone was wondering.

I did mention that he could be quite vicious as well. A defeat at Blackpool inspired him to write:

Spilling chances with the careless abandon of a drunk slopping beer over the bar room floor, Athletic were left wallowing in the relegation mire”

One of my all-time favourites, however, was saved for the rather less than skilful Jim Beardall who “went down the wing like a drunk falling down an escalator”. Classic.