‘Have I actually just booked and paid for Morocco away in a pointless preseason game? Yes, yes I have’ Oldham Athletic fans looking to take over Morocco
Oldham’s pre-season preparations usually involve trips to local non-league sides, but they are heading much further afield in the next few weeks.
Owner Abdallah Lemsagam has organised a 10-day training camp in his home country of Morocco, culminating in a friendly game with Raja Casablanca on Sunday 14th July.
It is not unusual for clubs to take a squad to Europe or further afield as part of pre-season training. However, Oldham has tended towards the Isle of Man, Scotland and a break from tradition with a trip to Lloret de Mar about 50 years ago.
They did win a trip to the Seychelles in the early ’90s for being the club with the best disciplinary record in the Premier League. Striker Ian Olney spoiled the trip somewhat, by elbowing one of the Seychelles team in the face in the first five minutes of the ‘friendly’ game organised by the islands football association. They must have been wondering what they’d let themselves in for.
The Moroccan trip came out of the blue and has given Latics fans very little time to decide whether they are going to make the trip or not. For some, it’s a no brainer:
The club is running a three-day trip out to Agadir for the game, and given that Moroccan football doesn’t get a lot of coverage in the UK, Latics fans will probably have been searching the net to find out more about Raja Casablanca and their fans.
What they will have found is a passionate bunch of supporters, who managed to sell out their 70,000 capacity Stade Mohamed V on 5 occasions last season. The game will take place at the 45,000 capacity Stade Adrar however where Latics will be based.
Moroccan football appears to be everything UK football isn’t with choreographed chanting, massed banks of supporters in a huge stand, flares, smoke bombs and general madness. It looks fantastic.
For Latics supporters and players used to the library like atmosphere of Boundary Park, it will no doubt be an amazing experience if not a little intimidating to say the least.