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Caught In Time: Second Division Champions

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From The Sunday Times July 13, 2008

Caught in Time: Oldham Athletic win the Second Division in 1991Greg Struthers


They were celebrating at West Ham on the final day of the season. The supporters were on the pitch, believing they had won the Second Division title. Alas, it was premature. Some 200 miles north, Oldham Athletic were still going hammer and tongs against Sheffield Wednesday.


Oldham needed a win to overhaul West Ham as champions but were 2-0 down early in the second half. Then came a dramatic turnaround. Ian Marshall popped up to score out of nothing, his 18th goal of the season. Paul Bernard, a teenage midfielder playing only his second game for the club, equalised a few minutes later. It was 2-2. West Ham had lost 1-0 to Notts County but Oldham needed another goal.


Deep in injury time, Oldham were awarded a penalty and Neil Redfearn stepped up to the spot. Kevin Pressman, in the Wednesday goal, dived to his left; the ball went to his right and into the net to give the Latics a 3-2 victory and the title.


“All I remember was the fans running onto the pitch,” recalls Marshall. “It was a fantastic achievement for a small club like ours.”


Paul Kane, who came on as a substitute in the last 20 minutes, says: “The 46 games of the season came down to the last kick. If you were writing a script to end a book, that would be your last chapter.”


Oldham were back in the top division as champions after 68 years. At Upton Park, a reporter in the press box put up three fingers on one hand, two on the other and gave the thumbs down. The West Ham fans on the pitch saw him and their celebration ended abruptly.


There was every indication that Oldham were destined for greater things under manager Joe Royle when they were unfortunate to lose the League Cup final against Nottingham Forest the season before and took Manchester United to a replay in the FA Cup semi-finals. Their free-flowing football won them fans; their plastic pitch did not. Marshall believes the criticism was unfair: “Our surface was better than those at Luton and QPR and it proved its worth. The weather in Oldham can be quite harsh but we never had a game postponed. We liked to play a passing game and playing on plastic helped our game because you knew your pass was going to be true.”


Their home record was impressive. They were beaten only once in the season, by bottom club Hull City.


“It was a real family club,” says Marshall. “We would have a few beers at the club after games and then some of the players would go to The Old Grey Mare, a pub up the road, where we would drink with the supporters whether we had won or lost. We thought of ourselves as normal people. Now there is a different mentality. The players are put on a pedestal.”


1 Richard Jobson A central defender, he played for eight league clubs although the bulk of his career was with Hull and Oldham. Was PFA chairman and is now a PFA executive


2 Jon Hallworth Signed from Ipswich for £75,000 in 1989, he enjoyed eight years in goal for Oldham. He was goalkeeping coach with the Latics and now runs a recruitment business in Lancashire


3 Paul Warhurst A versatile player who filled roles in defence, midfield and up front in a professional career that took him to 15 clubs. He helped Blackburn win the Premier League and was caretaker manager of Northwich Victoria. Now a football agent


4 Roger Palmer Oldham's leading all-time goalscorer with 141 league goals, Palmer was popular on the terraces at Boundary Park where they would sing “Oooh, Roger Palmer”. Marshall says: “He had no phone, no address and no car, so if the game was called off late on a Friday, coach Willie Donachie would have to go around and find him to tell him.” Has moved out of football


5 Paul Bernard The Edinburgh-born midfielder joined Oldham as a trainee and was still a teenager when they won promotion. He signed for Aberdeen for £1m and won the Scottish League Cup and two Scotland caps. Also played for Drogheda United in Ireland until he retired recently


6 Ian Marshall A tall central defender who wanted to be a striker, he enjoyed a five-year spell at the club before falling out with Royle over his preferred role. “Joe Royle said that if I had continued playing in defence I would have played for England, but the feeling when you score a goal is better than winning any England cap,” he says. He had successful spells with Ipswich Town and Leicester City. He has sold a restaurant he owned in Newfoundland, Canada, and runs a football coaching camp in Pasadena. Hopes to build the area’s first indoor centre


7 Paul Kane The midfielder played 21 league games for Oldham.

He also played for Hibs, Aberdeen and Clyde and now works in his family business, helping to run three pubs in Edinburgh


8 Neil Adams A midfielder, he joined Oldham in the summer of 1989 after a loan spell at the club. Adams then went on to play more than 200 games for Norwich before returning to Boundary Park. A co-commentator for BBC Norfolk, he is a motivational speaker


9 Andy Barlow The Oldham-born left-back spent 11 years at his home club, playing in 261 league matches. He is a regional development coach in the East Midlands and Yorkshire for the PFA


10 Earl Barrett A solid-tackling defender, he was at Boundary Park for five years before being sold to Aston Villa for £1.7m, a record fee for Oldham. He later joined Royle at Everton and won three England caps. He is a development officer in Manchester City’s youth community scheme


11 Paul Moulden A prolific scorer in youth football, he was a well-travelled striker who spent three years with Oldham. He now owns a fish and chip shop in Glossop and coaches football at the Bolton Lads Club, for whom he scored nearly 300 goals in one season. He likens making chips to playing football: “If you play badly on a Saturday, fans won't pay to watch you next week. If you don't serve them good fish and chips, they won't come back again either”


12 Neil Redfearn Oldham was one of more than a dozen clubs Redfearn turned out for in midfield. He also helped Barnsley into the top division and was manager of Scarborough and Northwich Victoria. He played into his 40s, reaching more than 1,000 games, and is now youth-team coach at York City


13 Rick Holden A winger whose accurate crosses played a big part in Oldham’s success, Holden had two spells at Boundary Park broken by a stint at Manchester City. He is manager of Peel on the Isle of Man


ESPN Classic, Sky channel 442, will show Caught in Time: A decade of great matches, Oldham's battle for survival on the last day of the 1992-93 season, at 9pm today

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I can remember underage drinking in the Grey Mare and seeing random players just walking in for a pint on weekday evenings. I lad I knew worked in Latique back then and they would always say hello. If that happened today, there would posts on here about such and such boozing and letting the club down!

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Guest oa_exile
I thought it was in Bolton?


Also quotes that he own's a chippy in "Where are they now ?" >>Paul Moulden<<


Paul Moulden (1989-93) signed from AFC Bournemouth for £225,000, after starting his career with Manchester City, and had the canny nack of hitting the buttocks of every defender whenever he passed or shot. His greatest claim to fame is scoring nearly 300 goals in one season for a Bolton youth club - it is apparently in the Guinness Book of Records. He also featured in the team that beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-2 to clinch the Second Division title but only appeared four times in the 92-93 season. Paul was released to Bolton and when he retired he used to play in an Oldham District 5 a-side league. Now he owns a chip shop in Glossop
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I thought it was in Bolton? and didn't Notts County beat West Ham 3-1 on that final day?


Yeh Colin claims credit for our promotion and Shez says it was down to him tripping Andy Barlow for that Redfearn penalty - Shez didn't want a southern club to be champions!


Notts County also beat Citeh in the F.A. Cup and won a second successive promotion in the Play-off. Probably Colin's finest season.

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