Football supporters in the 1970’s were vastly different from the current crop of stat obsessed, internet keyboard warriors. The game was still very much a working-class sport which is no doubt why fans were treated as pariahs wherever they went. There was arguably a good reason for this and Oldham’s visit to the Merseyside coast 45 years ago, gives us a window into why ‘hooligans’ made it onto the front pages with alarming regularity.
Read GREAT FA CUP GAMES: OLDHAM 3 LIVERPOOL 2
In November 1973, Latics sat on top of the old Division Three and were drawn away in the first round of the FA Cup to now-defunct Formby, from the Cheshire League. Without a doubt, this was to be the biggest game and gate in Formby’s history.
Latics, who were well supported on their travels were housed behind one goal on what appeared to be a hastily constructed grass bank. At the other end was an old Pickfords Removal van with one side removed and a handful of seats installed. This was apparently meant to house local dignitaries and bore the now legendary title of ‘Rent A Stand’.
There was not going to be an avalanche of goals which obviously irritated some of the visiting fans. At halftime, as they did at Boundary Park, the Oldham fans changed ends. Unfortunately, they decided to go straight across the pitch and for good measure attempt to roll the removal van out of the way.
Needless to say, this caught the attention of the media and became the focus of attention rather than the game itself. There was no great damage done but as someone who had only just started to go to away games without my father, the ‘hooligan’ headlines caused some heated debate back home.
The game is one of my favourites not for the result but because it became the one that always cropped up in conversation years later and I was pleased to say I’d witnessed it. It became the equivalent to the Sex Pistols at the Free Trade Hall gig in 1976 which thousands claim to have attended despite there being less than 50 inside on the night.