Twenty years on from when his father first put on a Latics shirt, Joey Holden has settled in well with the youth team, and is looking to kick-on from here, with spirits high in the dressing room.
Having spent time with a local side in Salford, he linked up with Oldham’s Academy in the summer, joining a dozen or so new recruits in this year’s youth squad.
Reflecting on the past few months, Joey is more than happy with the progress he’s made, and thinks working with U18s Head Coach, Chukwuma Akuneto, has really enhanced his game.
“I think this has probably been the most productive six months of my whole career so far.
“I’ve learned the most in such a short period of time and I think that comes down to me being open to learning new stuff and taking on new advice from different people.
“Working with Chuks, who’s a massive help when it comes to tactical information, is great.
“Just being around the building with people who want the same things as you is massive.
“I’d never really been in the academy system before joining Oldham, my parents didn’t really see the advantage of it at such a young age.
“They thought that playing grassroots football would be more beneficial, making sure I enjoyed it and learned about the game that way.
“I just played with my mates for a local team in Salford, that’s how I progressed.
“I then had a few trials at certain clubs just to get a bit of a taste of the academy system.
“I’ve always enjoyed my football, and felt that coming here was the perfect time for me to step into academy football.”
With over 400 games as a player and hundreds more as a coach, Joey’s got a great mentor in his dad, Dean Holden, who signed for Latics in 2001, staying for the best part of four years before departing for Peterborough.
The youngster has been keen to take advice from his father wherever possible, especially now he’s operating in a similar position to the one his dad did.
“It’s been amazing, you can’t really ask for much more when you’ve got such a well-educated person around you.
“He’s given me lots of advice and the standards of what he wants me to achieve are always high.
“I feel a lot of footballers in this day and age don’t have someone they can open up and talk about the difficulties they may face.
“Having someone like my dad who’s been through every single different scenario that I can think of in the football world is really beneficial.
“I’d always played in central midfield until recently.
“That was the position I wanted to play, to try and progress the most.
“You’re in the middle of the park, doing every aspect of the game, and when I joined Oldham I started in midfield.
“One day Chuks said to me that due to the numbers and an injury, he wanted to try me at right wing-back.
“With my profile he thought I had the energy, control, and touch to play there, and I’ve not looked back since.
“I’ve played there for the past few months and have really enjoyed it.”
The team picked up where they left off before the winter break, grinding out a good 2-1 win over Salford City last week.
A Salford own goal and instinctive strike from Somtee Chukwugbo set Oldham on their way to another three points, leaving the team within striking distance of a handful of teams above them.
“When I first came into the club at the start of the season there was definitely a togetherness, even though results weren’t what they are now.
“Now results have picked up massively, and the past few weeks we’ve been winning regularly.
“Even when we’ve not won, we’ve put in good performances that we are proud of.
“I think there’s a really good feeling about the place now, everyone is on the same wavelength.
“Chuks wants to aim for the top six this season, and some of the lads think we can go even higher than that.
“We want to maintain the same positive style of play and think we can do that, getting results in the process.”
The youth team are next in action against Preston North End on Saturday 20 January, kicking off at 10:30am at Chapel Road Training Ground.