The huge numbers associated with Oldham Athletic’s 33-year itch

REGULAR visitors to Boundary Park will be painfully aware of the numbers associated with Oldham Athletic’s 33-year barren run on the promotion front, but they are worth repeating after becoming quite staggering.

Latics hold the unfortunate honour of being the first former Premier League team to have slipped as far as the non-league ranks, with relegation out of the fourth tier and into the fifth suffered back in 2022.

Boundary Park

Backwards steps have become an alarming theme over the course of the last three decades, with forward momentum proving almost impossible to establish.


Oldham’s last promotion, which came in 1990-91, saw them claim what was then the Second Division title – with Joe Royle masterminding a push into the top-flight a year on from overseeing a remarkable run to the League Cup final.

The Latics became founder members of the Premier League in 1992-93, but lasted just two seasons at that level before beginning their ill-fated tumble down the League pyramid.

Darren and Joe Royle

There has been the odd flirtation with the Football League play-offs – in 2003 and 2007 – but 21 successive years were spent in the Second Division/League One before eventually slipping into reverse once more.

Oldham can now claim to have graced the Premier League to League Two and everything in between, the National League, FA Cup, League Cup, Anglo-Italian Cup, EFL Trophy and the FA Trophy – with few teams in a position to boast as much, if ‘boast’ is the right word!

They have not regressed as far as the FA Vase – which is just about all that is required in order to complete the set of domestic competitions in England – and the intention is to steer well clear of that event by getting back on the promotion trail.

Unfortunately, the aforementioned ‘numbers’ continue to be stacked against them.

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To pick out some of the more notable figures in that category, it has been over 4,300 days since the Latics last savoured the joys of stepping up a division. In that time, the club have played more than 1,400 league games and have seen figures such as Ian Marshall, John Sheridan, David Eyres, Chris Porter, Shefki Kuqi and Conor McAleny come and go.

More than 1,700 goals have been scored, while conceding even more, and over 1,800 points have been put on the board – at an average of a little over 56 per season. It is going to take more than that aggregate in order to come into contention for promotion in 2023-24.


A slow start to the current campaign, with one victory collected through the club’s opening nine games, did not bode well and led to inevitable changes being made in the managerial department.

Steve Thompson, combining his role as Head of Recruitment with that of acting manager, helped to steady the ship and turn it around – with an impressive run of successive victories accompanying a passing of coaching reins in his direction.

There is some way to go before National League odds across in-play and outright markets begin to be weighted in the Latics’ favour, but there is hope to cling to once more. It has been a while since that was the case and the hope is that a 33-year itch can be scratched in 2024 – allowing all of those counters that have ticked over into four figures to be reset at zero.

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