The following piece was written by chairman Simon Corney and taken from Saturday’s programme against Rochdale.
From a personal point of view, it's been a long, hard and stressful season. Last January when we found ourselves in a similar position I always believed we would manage to get out of trouble and that proved to be the case. This year, I didn’t have the same confidence that we would survive, mainly due to the lack of goals we were producing. However, we managed to recruit better in January than pre-season and when Shez arrived we had in place that extra bit of quality that was lacking before. Not many people know this but we actually broke our transfer record (since I have been here) when signing Aaron Amadi-Holloway from Fleetwood Town and it proved to be a worthwhile investment and I’m sure there will be a lot more to come from Aaron.
For some reason it just works with Shez here. He is different from the manager who was here first time around and he knows exactly what he wants and more importantly what he needs. We have already drawn up a list of players for next season that he would like to bring in and if some of those materialise, it could make for an interesting 2017/18 campaign.
If we are honest then both John and myself would probably say that we wish he had never left, it did neither one of us any favours. That said, there is no point looking back and instead we should focus and applaud John on what has, in my opinion, been one of the top managerial performances of any club in any division this past season. What is just as exciting as having John here as manager next year (and beyond) is the fact that we have 14 players under contract for season 2017/18 and everyone is a player that has performed so well from January and if we had to start next year with those players, we would be a very good side.
Of course one player who probably will not be here next year (although we are still desperately trying) is Connor Ripley. I have to give Stephen Robinson credit for bringing him in and he has been simply magnificent. Certainly in my time here we have never had a better goalkeeper and when you add his personality around the club and in the changing room, you realise what a massive loss he will be for us next season. For that reason Connor is my personal joint player of the year.
My other joint player of the year is obviously captain Clarke. Peter has been otherworldly of and I shudder to think where we would be without him. He has been a leader, a warrior and an example to all around him. He conducts himself the right way both on and off the pitch and if our youth players need anyone to look up to they could not have a better role model. He has not missed a minute in the league this year and let me tell you, there were games where he should not have been anywhere near the ground but he defied medical advice and insisted on lining up with his team mates. There are perhaps one or two in the squad this year that should take a good look at Peter Clarke.
It has been well documented that in January we were offered a fantastic fee for Peter from a rival division one club but there was never any chance we would let him go. Even had the fee been a million pounds I would have resisted (we all know that's not true) because our survival in this division is paramount and Peter was and is a big part of that.
On the administrative side of the football club I would like to say a big thank you to all the staff who work tirelessly to keep our club going. Our Chief Executive Mark Moisley has completed his first season and in difficult circumstances he has done a great job. It’s not easy being in the firing line at Oldham Athletic but Mark deals with all situations in a calm and measured manner. I would also like to mention our accounts team, who are headed up by Grace Nuttall. You guys have been superb this year, showing real dedication to the club and making sure we somehow get through each month. Just when we had figured out a way of getting through the season we spend another 500k in January to ensure survival and although I believe it has been money well spent, it certainly caused you a lot of headaches. Don't think we don't know!
A special mention to big Gordon Lawton who is producing his last ever match programme today. For over 25 years Gordon has produced a multiple, award winning programme that has entertained generations. There have been days when the printers let us down, when contributors forget deadlines, when delivery trucks break down and a million other catastrophes that have happened over the years but somehow the programme is always on sale come 3pm on a Saturday. As you all know, Gordon also doubles up as a co-commentator for Latics PlayerHD and he is absolutely indispensable to this club.
One last mention goes to our safety officer, Bryan Lawton who is leaving the club after a number of years. Bryan is very much an unsung hero who does a phenomenal job ensuring the safety of our fans both home and away. The number of hours Bryan puts in and the commitment to the club that he has shown, means he is someone who we will miss dearly. He leaves with our best thanks and best wishes and a permanent invitation to our ground anytime.
It leaves me to lastly to thank the most important people at the club and that's you, the fans. I know that the vast majority get it and even those that don't, I truly believe we all want the same thing - entertainment and success at Oldham. Both have admittedly been in short supply for a while and although I am the first to hold up my hands and admit the many mistakes I make, rest assured it is not for the lack of care or trying. I thank all of you that attend our matches, be it as season ticket holders or the less frequent, and I know that it is not easy for many of you for who commit so much of your time and resources supporting our club. I continue to look for investment or a buyer, we have interest from time to time but I stand by what I always say and that is, it must be to the right person.
My door and Mark’s door is always open if anyone wants to come in to the club and talk about anything, that is really the only way to find out true and correct information, and more importantly the best way for you, the fans to discuss any ideas that you may feel will take our club forward.