If you happen to be an Oldham Athletic supporter over 50 and spend far too much time reminiscing over games played four decades ago and the hairs in your ears stand on end every time you hear the word ‘tangerine’ mentioned, then you are part of a select group of people who were lucky enough to watch Oldham play in a classic era of football at Boundary Park.
That era was of course the early 1970’s when player turned manager Jimmy Frizzell guided Oldham out of the old Fourth Division playing in a swashbuckling style with players who went on to become Latics legends.
Most importantly though, the club had changed their traditional blue and white kit to that of tangerine shirts and blue shorts. Apparently, this move had been introduced by a young Ken Bates who was Chairman of the club for five years in the 1960’s to give the team a distinctive edge.
To be fair, it has to be pointed out that Blackpool FC had been turning out in a tangerine kit for some time (bizarrely their first game in tangerine was against Oldham in the opening game of the 1923/24 season) so it wasn’t a unique idea but nobody who supported Oldham was interested in that minor detail and tangerine scarves were top of every supporters birthday and Christmas want list. In fact many of us bought two so we could wear one round each wrist as was the sartorial style of the day.
The kit was immensely popular and never clashed with an opposing side (Blackpool were three divisions above Oldham) so the decision as to what to wear at an away game was never in question. Replica shirts hadn’t yet become a money spinner for clubs however so it was scarfs and wooly hats (if you were under 10) that was the order of the day.
The local press often referred to Athletic as the ‘tangerine terrors’ as they swept aside their opponents in the 70/71 season scoring 81 goals and gaining promotion in 3rd place. Key to their success were the goals from possibly Latics best ever strike force of David Shaw and Jimmy Fryatt with 23 and 24 goals respectively.
The club has recognised the importance of the kit to supporters and a version of it is the current change strip and has been in past seasons. At Fulham in the FA Cup this season, the 4000+ Latics fans serenaded their London counterparts to their own version of the Beatles ‘Yellow Submarine’, “We all play in Blue and Tangerine“.