JOE Royle, who managed Oldham Athletic during their glory days of the late 1980s and early 1990s, is hoping relegation to non-league football will prove a catalyst for much-needed change.
“Hopefully this will bring a new owner and new money into the club,” explained Royle who lived at Strinesdale during his time with Latics while two of his three sons still call Saddleworth home.
“When you look what has happened in recent years, there has been too many managers, too many changes and poor recruitment of players.
“It has been a shambles and I feel for the younger fans who never experiences the glory side as we beat champions Arsenal, both Manchester clubs and both Liverpool teams and Leeds regularly. There were also the appearances at Wembley.
“I am sad to see what has happened because I had 12 of the best years of my life at the club.
“And I am sure Ian Stott (chairman during those heady times) must be turning in his grave.”
Joe, who added it will be a quiz question for many years that Latics became the first Premier League club to plummet to non-league, still has great affinity with the club.
“There is the fabulous new stand which I am honoured to have my name on it,” he explained.
“The last game I was at was the FA Cup replay against Ipswich when they did okay.
“It is a terrible shame. I love the club, love the people and it was a fun environment to work there.”
Delph-based Alan Hardy was Latics’ commercial manager during the successful years and later the club’s CEO.
“In the Premier League, we would play at Anfield, White Hart Lane, Highbury and Old Trafford and there were the games at Wembley. To see the club in non-league is heart-breaking,” he said.
“It is great John Sheridan is staying as manager and I wish him all the best. Hopefully he can weave his magic and get promotion at the first attempt.”
Having witnessed Latics’ great escape of 1992-93, when they won their last three games against Aston Villa, Liverpool and Southampton to preserve their Premier League status, Alan had hoped the club might do likewise this season.
“There was still hope going into the last three games that Latics might win them all and stay up, but sadly Salford ended that,” he said.
Personal highlights during the great times for Alan were reaching the final of the Littlewoods Cup, two FA Cup semi-finals against Manchester United and the dramatic last-day win against Sheffield Wednesday to seal the Second Division title and promotion to the top-flight after an absence of 68 years.
Former player Les Chapman, who played for the club between 1967-70 and 1975-79, was damning of owner Abdallah Lemsagam.
The Delph-based former midfielder said: “It is a travesty, and we know who is to blame. The management at the top has been a shambles.
“I am devastated for the ardent fans. What the club needs is someone to come in with a pot of money.
“It is a shame a town like Oldham, which has a great football tradition, does not have a team in the league.”
Les still has a great affinity to Latics.
“They were my first professional club for whom I made by debut in 1967. They set me on the road in my football career and I had great times there,” he said.
Andy Barlow, Latics’ left back during the successful years under Royle, described relegation into non-league as a “disgrace”.
“It is really sad the club to see the club in such a state with its heart and soul ripped out of it. It is the fault of the owner for running it as he has done,” explained Andy who lives in Saddleworth.
Andy, who works for the Professional Footballers’ Association, added Latics have a terrible reputation within the game.
“It has become well-known they have become a one-stop shop and viewed by players that if they cannot get a club they can go to Oldham,” he said.
“I have watched from afar the trials and tribulations of the last three or four years and I have been disheartened by how the club has been allowed to be run.
“You only have to look at all the managers they have had. He has brought in his own with Tunisian and Moroccan backgrounds and experienced ones from this country, and they have all been found wanting. Have they all been bad or is it interference from the owner and sporting director?
“And it is also off the field. Look at the number of groundsmen, chief executives and accountants who have left.
“There have been issues with the new stand and it begs the question about due diligence. Did he take proper care and attention before buying the club?
“I would also question the EFL’s fit and proper test as he has not acted like somebody with a proper business plan.”
Andy supported Latics as a schoolboy in the 1970s when Jimmy Frizzell was manager and he admired players like Ian Wood, Ronnie Blair, John Hurst, Carl Valentine and Alan Groves.