OLDHAM Athletic’s promotion push is being masterminded in Saddleworth.
Home for new manager Frank Bunn is Uppermill where he has been based since his playing days for Latics in the late 1980s.
“I have since worked as far away as Coventry and Newcastle, but never moved as Uppermill means a lot to myself and my wife Marion,” explained Bunn, 55.
“We love village life and feel part and parcel of it. Saddleworth is picturesque and everybody made us welcome. When you need time to reflect and escape from the pressures of football there is nowhere better to be.”
Bunn, who has lived in Uppermill for 28 years, says his sons Harry and Tom have known nowhere else as both attended St Chads and Saddleworth School.
Harry, a striker like his father, is at Bury having also played for Manchester City and Huddersfield Town. Tom is a primary school teacher at Knowsley Junior School in Springhead.
Bunn added Uppermill has changed considerably since moving to the village almost three decades ago.
“It was quiet then, but it has gradually changed which has been good for local businesses,” he said.
Bunn, raised in the Birmingham suburb of Marston Green, is relishing his first stab at management.
Since retiring aged 27 from professional football, Bunn has had a variety of coaching roles at Wigan Athletic, Manchester City, Coventry City, Newcastle United, Rochdale and Huddersfield Town.
Bunn, who had two games as caretaker manager at Coventry and a short spell as assistant manager at Rochdale, had twice previously applied for the managerial job at Oldham.
He said: “It’s a case of third time lucky and extra special that it is at Oldham bearing in mind my playing days at the club.
“I’ve served my apprenticeship working with youth and U23 teams as well as being first team coach at Coventry for a number of years. It’s the next step up for me.
“For all the trials and tribulations about football management, it is a beautiful game and something in my blood, though the game is tough and the industry has its pitfalls.
“I have been around the game and done my apprenticeship and am keen to have a go at management, and this is a nice opportunity.”
Bunn added he had been lucky to work with some top managers, the likes of Kevin Keegan, Stuart Pearce, Chris Coleman, Iain Dowie and David Wagner.
There was also Joe Royle whose he described as a “fantastic manager and a great man”.
Bunn, who replaces sacked Richie Wellens on a one-year contract, has appointed Andy Rhodes, another member of the 1990 Wembley team, as his assistant.
Though Bunn was at Boundary Park at the start of the glory days under Royle, he admitted they are in the past and club has to look to the future having been relegated to the bottom division for the first time since 1971.
Bunn is hoping to reignite the club and put smiles back on the faces of fans who had endured a spell from 1997 to 2018 in the third tier and battles against relegation almost every season.
It was during Oldham’s 1989/90 season that Bunn wrote himself into the record books when he scored six goals in a 7-0 win against Scarborough, a feat that is still a record for the League Cup.
“They’re great memories, though, and hopefully I can create some more,” he said.
“I’ve always had an affinity with the club. I’m originally from Birmingham but I stayed in the area when I retired, I think a lot about the club and the people of Oldham.”
Bunn added: “We’re not trying to hark back to last season, we’re trying to look forward.
“We’re going to change the culture, certainly in terms of mentality and certainly at training.
“We’re trying to introduce a winning culture, which has been missing for a number of years.”
Bunn’s first signing is French midfielder Johan Branger, 24, from second division side FC Dieppe on a one-year contract. He is an international for African nation Gabon.