Trivia and Anecdotes - A 60's player reminisces

Supporters Trivia and Anecdotes


Although I get back to the Oldham area (my former landlady's nephew remains a close friend,) I have never run into any former players. I was a shy 16 year old then and didn't talk much although for what it's worth, I thought Peter Phoenix was a great guy, he was always friendly and we played alongside each other in the reserves for two season's on and off. He used to think Jack Rowley wasn't too keen on him for some reason. Sorry to hear that he has died.

Jimmy Rollo was a real joker, “Let's play a fast game in the 2nd. half then I can get home early”. Johnny Bollands used to let some real 'stinkers' go in the dressing room. Brian Jarvis was a quiet but popular guy and he and Jimmy Frizzell were inseparable bachelors in those days.

Bob Ledger, great right winger and always putting in early crosses, was also an amiable fellow and went out of his way to talk to younger players. John McCue, Bill Spurdle I never got to know too well, it was a sense of them having come to the close of a good career and just playing out the time.

I used to think Bert Lister was a great centre forward. He used to bang them in in training just like he did in a game. And of course Bobby Johnstone was the best passer of a ball I've ever seen.

Billy Dearden and I palled around a bit. Five years after I left Oldham, I met him on the Manchester- Chester train. I was going back to Chester teachers college and he was at Chester at the time. I felt rather sorry for him given that his career seemed to be stuck in the lower reaches then he hit the big time late in his career with Sheffield Utd. Billy had three cartilages out by the time he was 19 and in the end his knees were so bad that he couldn't train mid-week with Sheffield, only play Saturdays. I learned this from a parent of mine at school who's two boys came in to my office one Monday morning after seeing my Latics car decal, declaring, “We beat you on Saturday!” It was a while before I realized that, although I'd thought of them as Ukranian (their grandad was the Orthodox priest), their dad was Sheffield born and bred. In fact since that time I've been back to the U.K. with him, although he's never succeeded in converting me into a Blade's fan.

About 10 years ago I took my son back for a weeks 'March break' training session to Boundary park. He had a great time. Andy Goram was training at the Latics at the time and I recall him telling the story of Scotland having recently beaten Sweden 1-0. In the tunnel, pre-match, the Scottish players had all been overawed by the muscular, blonde Swedes until Roy Aitken, the captain sensing an air of inferiority, started a "let's get the bastard' type chant which evolved into a vicious first minute tackle on his part, resulting in a Swedish team that didn't want to know after that.

Johnny Burdess, (about 4 first team appearances, Geordie, even smaller than me at 5'-3”) were great pals, my Chadderton contact tells me he still lives in Royton as a joiner.

I should conclude by mentioning the one over-riding memory of my two years in Oldham during the 'big freeze' was that every player on Latic's books was easily identifiable by way of the 'mark of Zorro' on his thigh. I refer to the fact that Harry Massey's brain wave (as well as being Chairman at the time he was also my boss as I worked for him as an apprentice bricklayer) that year, namely making Boundary Park playable by way of burning off the ice with an ashphalt melter, while looking positively ingenious in January, backfired in March. This was due to the fact that, as well as getting rid of ice, it did the same to grass, the result being that Harry's building sand replaced the lost grass for the latter third of the season and every time we slid into a tackle thereafter we all burned our asses!

Dave Hodkinson (1961-64) ex-Latics player (now living and working as a Principal in a high school in Ontario, Canada).

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