I feel lucky to have lived through two of the most successful chapters of Oldham’s history. I was still at school when the Latics won promotion from the old Fourth Division in 1971 then went on to climb into the old Second Division as champions in 1974.
There were some superb games in those days but my choice of greatest game comes from, what is widely agreed to be the club’s most triumphant period, the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.
Oldham didn’t exactly start off as favourites to win promotion at the start of the 1990-91 season as the division included West Ham, Sheffield Wednesday, Wolves and Newcastle, all of whom had far bigger crowds and resources than the Latics.
However, all eyes were on the club after their exploits the previous season in reaching the Littlewoods Cup Final and the FA Cup semi-final.
By mid-November, Oldham were top with only one defeat and entered the new year in second place behind West Ham.
The league title was still up for grabs on the last day of the season. Second place Oldham were hosts to third-placed Sheffield Wednesday while leaders West Ham hosted fourth place Notts County.
The game was a sell-out but manager Joe Royle’s plans hit an early setback when Wednesday took an early lead in the 2nd minute and went further ahead just after halftime.
Oldham pulled back a goal through Ian Marshall on the hour then 17-year old Paul Bernard set up a grandstand finish by equalising on 80 minutes. There had been premature celebrations at West Ham as the scoreline came through but with the Hammers going down 2-1 to Notts County, Latics could win the title if they managed to conjure up another goal. As the seconds ticked by, Oldham were denied a handball claim in the area before future Latics manager John Sheridan brought down Andy Barlow to give Oldham a penalty deep into injury time.
Up stepped Oldham’s Neil Redfearn to cement himself into Latics folklore with a superbly taken penalty, and spark off celebrations that went on for several days.