Walking into Grimsby Town’s Blundell Park away end last Saturday, I was met with a thumping beat, a half-naked man and the unmistakable smell of a large crowd who had arrived early and supported the town’s licensees.
I could easily have been at a Glastonbury drum workshop but thankfully I wasn’t. I was about to witness my first away game of the season with the massed ranks of the travelling Oldham fans.
Latics have never attracted large crowds since their days in the Premier League, however, there is still a hardcore of support despite the absence of success.
What is astonishing however is the support Oldham take on their travels. At Morecambe on August 25th, Latics fans numbered 1638 in a crowd of 3050.
There wasn’t that many last weekend but the 800 who have arrived are shaking the rafters of this antiquated ground. Almost immediately, I noticed a fan at the front of the stand, back turned to the pitch trying to keep the chanting going. He’s not hard to spot as he’s the one who has decided to ditch his shirt.
Despite an insipid first half, the crowd keep up the tempo with their own version of Depeche Mode’s ‘I just can’t get enough‘. At halftime, I sought out the unclad teenager for a quick chat.
It’s soon obvious that George Parkin (19) has had a few beers, but he’s attracting the attention of the stewards for not staying in his seat. One of them incredibly, tells him to put his shirt back on or risk being thrown out! George tells me that at Boundary Park, he gets no hassle from the stewards. “They know I’m no trouble, they always say hello and join in”
The support from the terraces obviously has an effect in the second half as Latics rattle in two goals in quick succession. The beat changes and we’re now hearing Joy Division’s ‘Love will tear us apart‘ changed to “We’re taking over your town again”
George and his young cohorts might be a bit ‘in your face’ for some people but you can’t knock their enthusiasm and the effect on the team is plain to see. Oldham’s 12th man is cheering the team in the right direction.