Joe Royle has been voted as Oldham Athletic’s greatest manager by the club’s fans in a poll conducted as part of The Football League's 125th Anniversary celebrations.
Royle’s first job in management was at Oldham, arriving at Boundary Park in 1982 and spending 12 successful years there. In 1991 he took the Latics up to the First Division as champions of the Second Division, a year after they had also been beaten by Nottingham Forest in the League Cup Final and Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final.
They were relegated from the newly-formed Premier League in 1994 and in November that year Royle moved on to Everton. He took a massive 72% of the votes as the Latics’ greatest manager, well ahead of Jimmy Frizzell, John Sheridan, George Hardwick and David Ashworth.
Andy Ritchie was a prolific scorer for Oldham during the Royle era and beyond, bagging more than a century of goals in a Latics shirt to win the vote as the club’s greatest player. He picked up 49% of the votes to finish ahead of Roger Palmer (34%), Bobby Johnstone, Eric Gemmell and Andy Goram. Ritchie later managed the Latics for three years.
The 1990/91 season was voted as the club’s greatest on 49%, ahead of 1989/90 (40%), 1973/74, 1914/15 and 1952/53. The last day of 1990/91 saw Oldham beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-2 in a game selected as the club’s best ever with 41%, ahead of 1993’s 1-0 victory over Manchester United, a dramatic 4-3 win at home to Southampton that clinched survival in 1993, an 11-2 home success against Chester City in 1952 and an 11-0 beating of Southport 11 years later.
Royle sits alongside legends of the game including Brian Clough, Sir Bobby Robson, Sir Tom Finney, Billy Wright, Sir Stanley Matthews, Trevor Francis, Billy Bremner and Herbert Chapman who have all been named in a list of the greatest contributors to clubs’ league history in a vote as part of The Football League’s 125th Anniversary celebrations.
The names feature in lists for each of the current 72 Football League clubs’ greatest in various categories including managers, players, captains, fan favourites, matches and seasons. The polls were run by The Football League to celebrate each club’s own contribution to the last 125 years of league football. The results have been announced on the anniversary of The Football League’s formation on 17th April 1888 to bring down the curtain on a year of activity celebrating the start of the world’s original league football competition.
Nearly 100,000 votes were cast in the polls after clubs were first invited to compile their own shortlist for each category based on fans’ nominations via social media.
A list of the winners in each category can be seen at www.FL125.co.uk/vote, and a club-by-club breakdown for each vote with more detail on the winners can be seen at www.fl125.co.uk/oldham-athletic.
Supporters can find out more about The Football League’s 125th Anniversary at www.FL125.co.uk. Fans also still have a chance to visit a special exhibition called ‘Game Changers’ at the National Football Museum in Manchester celebrating 125 years of The Football League, with contributions from every club. The exhibition is free to enter and open 7 days a week – for more details visit http://po.st/GameChangers.