With the recent conclusion of (most of) the Third Round Proper of the FA Cup, we had a few worthy nominees for Small Club of the Week, and we covered one of them last week with Barnet F.C. This week, in advance of their Fourth Round Proper matches on Saturday, we’re going to cover the other two clubs that garnered notice for their upsets in the third round. (Check out Newport County here).
Small Club of the Week: Oldham Athletic A.F.C.
Founded: 1895 (as Pine Villa FC)
Location: Greater Manchester, England
Team Colors: Blue and White
Ground: Boundary Park
Current League: League Two (Tier 4)
Reason For Notice
Oldham Athletic was one of five League Two clubs to participate in the Third Round Proper of the FA Cup, and one of the two winners from that league (Newport County was the other) to win. Both clubs defeated clubs from the Premier League, with the Latics travelling to Fulham and winning 2-1 after Fulham missed a late penalty.
The Latics have spent the bulk of their 124-year history in the top four tiers of English football, with their 45 seasons spent at Tier 3 (now known as League One) leading the way. In fact, this is only their 8th season in Tier 4, and their first season below Tier 3 since a third place finish resulted in promotion after the 1970-71 season.
They found success in that run in what was then known as the Third Division, earning promotion to the Second Division after finishing first during the 1973-74 season. During a 17 season stretch in what is now the Championship (in which they averaged an 11th place finish), they acheived promotion to the first division following a league title during the 1990-91 season, and were included in the 22 clubs that initially made up the Premier League when it was founded before the 1992-93 season.
After two seasons in the Premier League, they were relegated after a 21st place finish after the 1993-94 season (there we 22 teams in the early years of the Premier League), which mark the Latics’ last appearance at Tier 1. Another three seasons in the Championship – including the middle season when they finished one spot out of the playoffs – saw them relegated back to League One, where they played with mixed results for the past 21 seasons, before bottoming out and “earning” relegation after last season’s 21st place finish.
The Latics are currently in 12th place in League Two, ahead of our other Small Club this week Newport County on goal differential alone. They’ve also only played 28 matches thus far in the league, with most other League Two clubs having played 29.
In Round Four Proper of the FA Cup, they will be facing off against League One club Doncaster Rovers on 26 January at Keepmoat Stadium in Doncaster. Should they again find success against a higher tier club, they would advance to the Fifth Round and would find out their opponent in the draw on 28 January.
In their next League Two match, they will head to Stoke-on-Trent for a match against 5th place Milton Keynes Dons on 29 January, followed by a home match against relegation fodder Morecambe on 2 February. They can likely expect to be playing twice a week in league play for the next month or so, especially if they are able to continue advancing through the FA Cup.
Until next time…