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Front. Sports Act. Living
Sec. The History, Culture and Sociology of Sports
Volume 6 - 2024 | doi: 10.3389/fspor.2024.1319963

The Lambs of Sheepfoot Lane: Oldham Athletic AFC 1960 – 2023; Football, Politics and Identity Provisionally Accepted

  • 1Independent researcher, Switzerland
  • 2University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia, Spain

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The article focuses on an overview of the history, politics and identity of Oldham Athletic AFC between 1960-2023. During this period the club, founding member of the Football League, played across six divisions of the game's pyramid. My hometown club, the Latics faced a threat to its survival following relegation to the National League in 2022, before being rescued and brought back into local ownership on the long road back to its recapturing its former status. The successes of the Frizzell and Royle eras contrast with club's decline in the 1960s, and its meltdown since the mid -1990s. These are interwoven with the economic, geopolitical and cultural dynamics of the game. The study locates the history of a small club geographically positioned within the vortex of the two Manchester giants and Liverpool, in English football's traditional hinterland of the industrial north west. The article has four main themes. Firstly, it examines Oldham Athletic as custodian of local identity, fusing folkloric rituals within the club's historic and contemporary nexus. Secondly, it contextualises the interface between global, glocal and grobal forces impacting on tradition, modernity and post-modernity in the club's lexicon. It considers themes of ownership, commodification and globalisation, debating whether Oldham Athletic stands as a bastion of anti-globalisation, or reconfirms existing global patterns at the micro level, incorporating theoretical perspectives. Finally, the review evaluates whether the political and class cleavages of the club's roots in Oldham's Victorian industrial landscape resonate, or if they have been marginalised by socio-economic changes since 1960.

Keywords: Oldham Athletic, Boundary Park, Jimmy Frizzell, Joe Royle, Globalisation, Oldham, Politics, Cultural identity

Received: 11 Oct 2023; Accepted: 01 Apr 2024.

Copyright: © 2024 O' Brien. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. James O' Brien, Independent researcher, -, Switzerland