It was not a day for queuing. The rain was incessant, the Pennines were blocked out by the midwinter grey and two of those hemmed in around Boundary Park, the highest and often the coldest football ground in England, collapsed while waiting for an FA Cup ticket and were treated for hypothermia.
Oldham had been given 6,136 for tonight's encounter with Liverpool and they did not last long. A town that once spun more cotton than France and Germany combined was financially ravaged long before the recession came calling for the rest of England, which is maybe why football and the FA Cup matter. In 1990 and 1994, Oldham made the semis.
Paul Dickov was hoping for Manchester City, the club where he spent eight years in three divisions. Instead, the man who is now Oldham's manager learnt that, should his side beat Southend in a replay, they would go to Anfield. "We were hoping for a big tie," he says. "Oldham needed it, not just the club but the town, which is struggling economically. We both needed a lift."
Growing up as a Celtic supporter, Dickov had idolised the Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish. " I was a kid at Highbury the first time I met him and could hardly speak, I was that much in awe of him."
Dickov describes himself as a "lucky bugger", having gone straight from playing to management. "It was a culture shock. It is literally 24/7. I'd like to say I don't take the job home but my wife would go mad if I denied it."
As a striker with Manchester City, Dickov was a complete pest. He got under the skin of defenders and he enjoyed it when they lost their temper because it meant he was winning. Winning at Oldham has been a mixed affair. His budget is, if not the lowest in League One, then very close to it. As regards Liverpool and the FA Cup, Dickov said: " I am not daft enough to say we are going to go to Liverpool and win; that would see me locked up in a straitjacket, but in every round of the FA Cup there are always shocks and it could be us."Reuse content