Oldham Athletic 1 Yeovil Town 0 match report: Johnson Junior victorious over senior to give Latics hope


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The Independent Football

The match that pitted the generations against each other went the way of youth and optimism rather than old age and cunning.

On the final whistle, Gary Johnson reflected that Yeovil's 1-0 defeat thanks to Matt Smith's header on the stroke of half-time meant their faint dreams of automatic promotion were now extinguished. On the other hand, the result should ensure that Oldham, managed by his son, Lee, survive in League One. Compared to the heartache both men suffered when Bristol City, managed by Gary and featuring Lee in midfield, were denied a place in the Premier League in the play-off final, the commiserations would be easy.

At the end of most games there is a handshake between the managers and an invitation to come for a drink. Here, there was an arrangement for Gary to stay over and see his granddaughter.

Only once did the emotion of father facing son break through. “I was very fidgety,” said Lee, dressed for the occasion in a three-piece suit. “In fact I nearly got sent off for coming on the pitch and kicking the ball. That just shows you where my head was.”

It was not lost on his father, who spent the night impassively standing with his hands behind his back. “When Lee went out on the pitch, I did think: 'what the bloody hell are you doing, son, pull yourself together'. That was the only time I felt like a dad.”

That aside, it was a pretty ordinary affair. The Tannoy should have played 'Father and Son' by Cat Stevens which seems to open with a line about the advisability of making a substitution: “It's not time to make a change. Just relax, take it easy.” Instead, they played 'Common People' by Pulp.

All football men want their sons to follow them. In Sir Alex Ferguson's account of his time at Aberdeen,  'A Light in the North', there is a charming picture of Darren, who must have been about 10, standing on the touchline at Pittodrie in a tracksuit, seemingly directing the play.

It would, however, require a leap of the imagination for the two to manage against each other competitively. Either Peterborough would have to win an improbable promotion to the Premier League or Sir Alex would first have to relegate the world's biggest football brand and then refuse to resign once he had done so.

Only once before had father and son managed against each other. Bill Dodgin was famous for providing one of the worst football jokes of the 1960s. “Hello, I'm Dodgin, the new manager.” “So am I, mate, let me know if you see him.” He was also famous for managing Bristol Rovers against his own son, also confusingly called Bill, who was in charge of Fulham. Between 1969 and 1971 they met five times. Junior won 3-2.

That pattern was maintained at Boundary Park, which this season has seen plenty of cameras, although in contrast to their FA Cup heroics against Liverpool and Everton, most were trained on the respective dugouts and when the crowd began singing: “Johnson, Johnson give us a wave” both men stuck their arms up.