Oldham's summer tour exploits follow them home

Greetings from Camp Nou. It’s raining so the ground is half-empty, even though Barca are the cup holders and their opponents are a Sevilla side with top class players like Jesus Navas, Diego Capel and ace winger Brian Perotti.

OK, Diego Perotti, but Brian to his wife, Pam.

I got back to Catalonia a week ago.

Originally, my flight was supposed to be the morning after United played Wigan, but what consideration is given to season ticket holders when switching games?

The re-arranged Wigan game wasn’t on telly, except in an overpriced tourist bar off La Rambla where a pint is €5 - which is now a fiver.

I watched as United played well and my uncle David popped up on the screen.

He’s Wigan’s kit-man and loves his new job after a nine-year stint at Altrincham, but I still can’t get used to seeing him standing loyally behind little Roberto Martinez as Wenger or Ferguson contest a decision.

"Have you met Dave? He's Andy Mitten's uncle"

Arsenal were playing Portsmouth at the same time and a handful of Gunners watched their game on a different screen.

For a time it seemed like a competition about how many goals would be scored between Arsenal and United.

The atmosphere was decent, then I heard the following:

“Who’s that dying on the runway? Who’s that dying in the snow? It’s Matt Busby and his boys making all the f***ing noise 'cos they can’t get the aeroplane to go.”

I was incredulous at first. My mate Crainey is far from wet behind the ears but he must have had cloth in them because he didn’t catch it.

I approached the singer, a Yank with ‘Eboue’ printed on the back of an Arsenal shirt and asked him if he had any idea how offensive the song was.

He apologised straight away and that was that.

(This is a top game, by the way. Sevilla have taken the lead through the superb Capel and the atmosphere is uncharacteristically rocking).

Anyway, the Americans passed us later and apologised again. They were aged about 20, from Detroit and they follow Arsenal.

Passing through Barcelona on their way home, they travel over to London once or twice a season.

They were pleasant, if intoxicated by some of the less desirable aspects of English fan culture. We’ve all been daft and young.

Two other Americans who have travelled over to watch English football this season are Sara Matthew, 23, and Amber Allen, 25 - both very attractive students from Los Angeles.

They met several Oldham Athletic players in the Cayman Islands last summer.

The Cayman Islands: Nice this time of year. Or any other

What went on on tour didn’t stay on tour.

By September, the girls had flown to England, where they filmed exploits such as catching trains from Manchester Victoria to Oldham Mumps.

They went to an away game at Millwall, where they walked the streets around the New Den unaware of Millwall’s reputation in English football.

The girls were fine, met many a bemused local on their travels and it was a decent local news story for papers like the Manchester Evening News.

The girls wouldn't have been fazed that the majority of readers comments were cynically small-minded, scornful and envious, with nonsense like: "What a waste of two flights, that money could have bought food in a hospital."

They promised to return in December.

Officials at Oldham, honest football people but perhaps more naive about the post-season peccadilloes of their players, got wind of it and made an invitation.

According to the Manchester Evening News: “After hearing about their last adventure, the club promised to roll out the red carpet and the visitors will perform the half-time draw.”

Members of the local media, more used to talking about calf strains in Huddersfield, put their best shirts on and a splash of Hai Karate to meet the girls.

When they bounded into England, with more energy than a reactor at Sellafield and looks straight out of 90210, Oldham didn’t quite know how to handle them.

Latics’ fans were hospitable, the club initially so. But all was not well.

On the day of the game at which they were supposed to make the half-time draw, the club welcoming committee went silent, mobiles went unanswered and the girls were told that they were not welcome at Boundary Park after objections within the club.

Someone had obviously spilled some kind of beans.

Boundary Park: Not quite so welcoming

(Ibrahimovic just equalised after beating the offside trap, but Negredo has put Sevilla back in front almost immediately. There are 150 Sevilla fans on the top tier and 14 on the lower. Their players have just run over to the 14 and almost climbed into the stand to celebrate with them. It’s great to watch, as is the sight of the players holding up a shirt in memory of Antonio Puerta).

Back to Oldham. There wasn’t a word in the media after about the non-appearance and the girls returned to the States feeling very miffed.

It just goes to show: not everyone leaves Oldham happy...

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