Just settling down to watch the Oldham v Liverpool FA Cup game, and the first thing that came to mind was our incredible 4-3 loss to Oldham in the Cup a few years ago. It was one of those typical Morrel ding-dong games. Well, Morrel MK I, when he tried to get his over-paid slumming stars to play real football. Not last season's version where he realised about 5 minutes into the first game that a training regime of keepy-uppy and X-box wasn't ideal for blood and thunder Conference football.
Boundary Park today was rocking to an early Oldham goal, and the massed support of the Lancashire club celebrated in union. Rows after unbroken rows of supporters. Not a spare seat to be seen. The sort of crowd that always makes me think, where are all these people for the run-of-the-mill League games? As a once-per-season fan you may celebrate your team's goal, but do you feel it as much as those who attend every week? Do you feel guilty jumping up and down in celebration without having a clue who has actually scored, even though it is for your team?
And what of next Saturday? When mighty Southend are in town rather than Liverpool. Suddenly the thought of sitting out in the cold watching players you don't know doesn't quite seem so attractive. Do you feel a tiny bit guilty that you've only attended the game because of the opposition, rather than supporting your own team?
In recent years we have had plenty of these games. Suddenly the stretch of terrace that you shared with a couple of old duffers is thronged with people you've never seen before. You knew they hadn't been to Rocky Road for a while because they'd invariably mention the fact that the Britannia Road was covered, or have heated discussions as to whether Cooke or Moss was the better striker!
I wonder if these people ever think of the Poppies nowadays? When we scrapped 250 souls for a "home" league game did any of these people feel a little bit of guilt that they hadn't seen their team play since the Fulham or Leeds Cup games?
If the Poppies are to survive in any meaningful capacity (i.e. Imraan f**ks off, and Cousin's has his "lease" stuck up his arse) are we likely to experience the phenomenon of the once-a-seasoners ever again? At the level we are likely to be playing at for the foreseeable future, assuming we are playing at all, the "glamour" games aren't likely to come thick and fast!