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Club News

Norman Celebrates 75 Years As A Latics Fan

31 October 2023

Club News

Norman Celebrates 75 Years As A Latics Fan

31 October 2023

Yesterday, Latics fan Norman Barnett celebrated 75 years as a Latics fan.

After a chance encounter with director Luke Rothwell before the Chesterfield match in August, he was invited into the boardroom for Saturday’s match against Altrincham, to commemorate his time supporting Oldham.

Speaking about his 75 years as a fan of the club, Norman recites his family ties to Oldham, with his dad and grandad being regulars at Boundary Park.

“My Grandad went to Latics during the wartime matches, and my Dad had been going since 1930, so I was well versed in Latics by the time I was six or seven years old.

“My children support Latics, and my nine-year-old grandchild does, so that’s five generations of supporters.

“The first match I can definitely remember was a match against Crewe in 1948, which I went to with my Dad and my Grandad.

“I was eight years old, and I can remember exactly where I stood in the Rochdale Road End, which was an open terrace in those days.

“Oldham won 3-2, a chap called Ray Haddington scored two, including a penalty right in front of me, and I was hooked from then on.

“Eventually my father’s work took him to Southport, but it didn’t stop him taking me to every match.

“By the time I was 13, my Father was working on Saturday so couldn’t take me, so I had to travel to games by myself.

“I would get the train from Southport to Victoria, and then get a bus up to Oldham, have lunch at my grandparents, before watching the match, and going home on the train at 9pm.

“This was during the era of George Hardwick, who I’m glad to say I met in later life, and he signed a copy of his autobiography for me.”

From a Latics legend to an England great, Norman met Bobby Robson as a boy, who was making a name for himself as a youngster at Fulham.

“When I was 13, Latics had been promoted to the Second Division under George Hardwick, and we were playing Fulham.

“I was waiting outside with my autograph book, and a 21-year-old Bobby Robson came out and started speaking to two Fulham fans.

“He continued speaking to them and I respectfully stood behind him, waiting for him to turn around.

“One of the fans noticed me, and tapped him to let him know I was there.

“Her turned around and said ‘hello son, what’s your name’

“I told him my name and he took my autograph pad off me to sign it.

“He put his hand on my head asked if I want going to enjoy the game

“I said I would and he then asked who’s going to win, and I replied ‘Oldham, of course!’

“He had a right laugh over that.”

OAFC (2) v Altrincham (2)-9789 Large.jpg

As Norman became an adult, he joined the RAF, but didn’t let the constant travelling and moving about stop him from cheering on Oldham each and every Saturday.

“As I grew up I joined the RAF, and wherever I was stationed in the country, I’d travel to watch Latics.

“I came from Valley in Anglesey, West Raynham in Norfolk, wherever I was, I travelled to games.”

“In 1967 we drew Wolves in the FA Cup, this was during the time of Ken Bates.

“The team was planning to go to Llandudno for a bonding session leading up to the match, and I was based out of RAF Valley at the time.

“I rang Jimmy McIlroy and offered the team a day at RAF Valley, showing them the aircraft, that type of thing.

“The game before the FA Cup tie was Shrewsbury, Jimmy met me there, spoke to me, and I told him what was on offer at the RAF base.

“As I was leaving he invited me onto the team coach to travel with them, and he said there was someone he wanted me to meet.

“It was 17-year-old Ronnie Blair who had just made his debut at Shrewsbury.

“He told me that he’s still a young lad and that I should talk to him, we had a good talk and bonded well.”

Thank you for your support over the past 75 years, Norman!

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