Boundary Park: Oldham Athletic

Furtherwood Road, Oldham, Lancashire, England, OL1 2PA
By Mikey from Wythenshawe, Manchester, UK (Oldham Athletic's Football Ground) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Though it may surprise some of you to learn this, the home of Oldham Athletic Association Football Club wasn’t always called sportsdirect.com Park. In fact, the stadium began life as The Athletic Ground when it opened some time around 1896. At that time Oldham’s first ever football club, Oldham County, played there, but they folded in in 1899 and Pine Villa Football Club took over the ground. They immediately changed their name to Oldham Athletic, and the name of the ground to the one that will be more familiar to football fans everywhere: Boundary Park.

Its current name comes, unsurprisingly, from sponsorship. The sporting behemoth that is sportsdirect.com began sponsoring the ground in 2014 as part of a five year deal. The club became the 30th of the 92 teams in the Football League to accept a commercial name for their ground. It meant the end of more than 100 years of the club’s home ground being called Boundary Park, something many fans were upset by, despite the obvious positive financial implications for the club.

Stats

Boundary Park Stats
Year Opened1896
Capacity13,512
Average Attendance4,514
Record Attendance47,671 (Oldham v Sheffield Wed (1930))
Pitch Size101 x 68 (6868)
Former NameBoundary Park, Athletic Ground
OwnerOldham Athletic
SponsorSportsdirect.com
Clubs HostedOldham Athletic AFC, Oldham Roughyeds
Oldham Athletic Stats
Year Founded1895
NicknameThe Latics
Club MascotChaddy the Owl
RivalsHuddersfield Town, Bradford City, Rochdale
KitBlue and White (Home) / Orange and Blue (Away)
Training GroundChapel Road Training Ground
Shirt SponsorPFE Express Ltd
Team OwnerAbdallah Lemsagam
Record GoalscorerRoger Palmer (143)
Record AppearancesIan Wood (525)

Boundary Park Photos

Boundary Park Seating Plan & Where to Sit

Richard Matthews / Flickr.com

Boundary Park is very much built in the ‘English Style’ of having four stands, one on each side of the ground, as opposed to the more European ‘Bowl Style’ design of continuous seating all the way around. Except at the moment that isn’t true, as The Main Stand was knocked down in 2008 in order to be re-built and updated. So it’s a traditional ‘English Style’ ground with three stands… and a fourth that is only half ready.

  • The Chadderton Road End - This stand is found behind one of the goals and it’s where the most vocal of Oldham’s supporters tend to sit. It has a low-hanging roof that can cause viewing issues if you’re at the back but allows for a decent atmosphere. It’s known as The Chaddy End to the locals.
  • The South Stand - Thanks to sponsorship this stand is known as The Verlin Stand and is where the away supporters normally sit. It has two tiers and the home supporters normally take up the one that the away supporters don’t need.
  • The Rochdale Road Stand - In the past this was the stand that was given over to away supporters, with one-third of the structure given to teams with small followings or two-thirds given to teams that have larger followings. That is no longer that case, with the whole structure used by home fans.
  • The Lookers Stand - This was knocked down in order to be redeveloped, with Oldham Borough Council giving planning permission for the new stand in 2013. The idea is that it will have room for just under 3000 spectators as well as a health and fitness suite, a bar for supporters and a section for club events.

Oldham Athletic Ticket Prices

Ticket prices for Oldham Athletic games are reasonably easy to get your head around, with the club neglecting the opportunity to categorise their matches. Instead they charge different amounts of money to different age groups and depending on when you book, with advance bookins coming in cheaper. They also offer a student card for £10 that then allows students to buy match tickets for a reduced price of £12.

Here are the prices for adults, concessions and Under 16s:

  • Adults: £20 - £24
  • Concessions: £10 - £12
  • Under 16s: £10

How To Get Oldham Athletic Tickets

As is the case with pretty much all of the main Football League clubs, you can buy Oldham tickets from the ticket office at the stadium, by calling the ticket office on the phone or, if you’re reasonably au fait with your technology, by going onto the club’s official website.

Where to Buy

Getting To Boundary Park

sportsdirect.com Park is in Oldham which is itself not far at all from Manchester. If you know how to get to that Northern hub, therefore, you’ll be able to get to the home of Oldham Athletic without too much of an issue. Here are some of the usual routes you’ll want to consider for your journey:

Train - To be honest, it isn’t easy to get to Boundary Park by train. The closest station is Mills Hill Railway Station, which is 2.1 miles from the ground. That means it’s about 45 minute walk, just so you know.

Bus - The best bus stop for the ground is The Royal Oldham Hospital stop that is at the top of Sheepfoot Lane. You’ll find over thirty buses an hour stop there, with the 409 running from Ashton-Under-Lyne, Royton, Rochdale and Oldham itself.

Car - From the M62 you'll want to exit at Junction 20 and get onto the A627M, which is sign posted to Oldham. Exit that at Junction 1 and get onto the A663 from where you'll be able to follow signs to the ground. From the M60, however, you'll want to get off at Junction 22 and then get onto the A62. At the roundabout take the 1st exit to the A627 and carry on until you see signs for the stadium.

By Air - Manchester Airport is definitely the closest to sportsdirect.com Park and should serve all of your needs, given that it's one of the largest airports outside of London.

Taxi - A taxi from Mills Hill Railway Station to the ground will probably take you just over five minutes and cost you in the region of £10. Obviously if you end up getting caught in traffic - not exactly unheard of in Manchester and the surrounding areas - then it will take longer and cost more.

Parking Near Boundary Park

There is an official supporters' car park that you can use, with on-street parking also possible not too far from the ground. Keep your eye out for parking restrictions, though, as these can sting you.

Useful Resources

Boundary Park Hotels

Obviously nearby Manchester will thrill and delight if you're the sort of person that likes to stay in a big city, but there are some options closer to the ground. Here are some of our favourite places to stay:

New Central Guest House, Manchester - £50+

144-146 Heywood Street, Manchester, M8 0DF
This 3-star guest house has just nine rooms as well as meeting rooms, free parking and free Wi-Fi. It’s just under 6 miles from the stadium. More details.

Village Hotel Manchester Bury - £60+

Waterfold Business Park, Rochdale Road, Bury, BL9 7BQ
Just under six and a half miles from sportsdirect.com Park is this member of the Village chain of hotels. It’s got a terrace, a business centre, a full-service spa with an indoor pool and a health club. There’s also free parking and, of course, free Wi-Fi. More details.

Best Western Broadfield Park Hotel, Rochdale - £70+

Sparrow Hill, Rochdale, OL16 1AF
This Best Western hotel is just over four miles from the ground and has a conference space, a restaurant and a bar. There’s also free Wi-Fi and free parking for those of you that would like to drive. More details.

Pubs & Bars Near Boundary Park

Oldham is a typical Northern town with lots of nice, characterful pubs to head into for a pre-match pint. Here are some of our favourite places to go to for a tipple:

Clayton Green

Westwood Retail Park, Oldham, Lancashire, OL1 2PA (0161 925 3770)
The Clayton Green is a Brewers Fayre pub, so it’s a family friendly location with some decent real ales and great food. It’s also just a stone’s throw from the ground, so it’s the best possible place to head to before the game.

The Greyhound Inn

1 Elly Clough, Holden Fold Lane, Royton, Oldham, Lancashire, OL2 5ES (0161 624 4504)
The Greyhound Inn is slightly further afield than Clayton Green, but it’s worth going out of your way for. It’s a nice, friendly local pub with great character and plenty of characters of its' own.

The Old Grey Mare

331 Oldham Rd, Royton, Oldham, OL2 6AB (0161 624 2719)
The Old Grey Mare isn’t a description of the new landlord who took over the pub recently. Instead it’s somewhere with a decent atmosphere, nice beers and ales and live sport on TV's dotted throughout the venue.

Facilities

The facilities in The North Stand are probably the worst in the ground. Then again, that stand has been knocked down and only half re-built so it was never going to be the best place if we’re honest. In the rest of the ground you’ll find all of the things you’d expect from a middle of the road club: plenty of kiosks to buy food and drink and even a few places to stick a bet on.

Prices

  • Programme: 3.00
  • Pie: 3.00
  • Cup of tea: 2.00

Hospitality

By Narniauk at English Wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Oldham promise that their match day packages deliver an experience to be remembered, so if you’re a massive Latics fan then it’s something worth considering. Here are some of the best options available to you:

  • The Broadway Suite - With this package you’ll enjoy a two-course meal before the game, a match day host in the lounge, and post-match entertainment. You’ll also get half-time tea and coffee as well as the chance to watch the Man Of The Match Award after you’ve watched the game from your padded seat.
  • The 100 Club - This seasonal club bags you a match day buffet, access to the Man of the Match presentation, exclusive bar, reserved parking space, and you’ll also get an comfy padded seat and half-time refreshments.
  • Executive Boxes - The use of one of the club’s executive box’s also comes with a match day programme for each guest, pre match dining with your own waitress and padded executive seats in your own area from where you can watch the match itself. You can also have a drink in The Broadway Suite after the game if you would like to.

Private Hire

Oldham Event Centre is the name given to the club’s private hire wing and it’s certainly a professional looking operation. They specialise in corporate events, functions and parties, and they even offer wedding packages for those Latics that want to tie the knot in the OAFC fan’s ultimate venue. There are a range of spaces that can cater for as few as two people and as many as 400.

Stadium Tours & Museum

At the time of writing you can’t do a tour of Boundary Park, which makes sense seeing as a quarter of it doesn’t exist. There’s no guarantee that that will change but if it does then we’ll let you know here as soon as we can.

About Oldham Athletic

footysphere / Flickr.com

Founded as the bizarrely named Pine Villa in 1895, Oldham Athletic have played their home games at Boundary Park ever since 1899 when their nearby rivals, Oldham County, folded. They enjoyed a degree of success in their formative years, most notably in 1915 when they finished as runners-up in the First Division. They slipped down the league over the following nine years, however, getting relegated to the Second Division in 1923. They remained outside of the top-tier until they won the Second Division title in 1991, ending an incredible 68 years outside of the Football League’s top division. They went on to become founder members of the Premier League but were relegated out of the new division in 1994.

Oldham have had their fair share of recognisable names at the club over the years. Former Everton manager Joe Royle got his managerial experience with The Latics before heading to Goodison Park, for example. He had twelve years at Boundary Park before another player with a connection to The Toffees took over from him until 1997, Graeme Sharp. Neil Warnock, who would later go on to manage Sheffield United, Crystal Palace and Queens Park Rangers, took over from Sharpe but only lasted one season before resigning after he failed to help the club gain promotion. In 2015 the club announced that it was attempting to sign former Sheffield United player and convicted rapist Ched Evans, but the move resulted in such a significant backlash from fans and local politicians that they decided to abandon their attempts. Whatever made them think this would be an acceptable decision in the first place is beyond us.

Boundary Park History

The current capacity of the three-sided sportsdirect.com Park stadium is just over 13,500, having become an all-seater ground in the process of the 1994-1995 campaign, the season after the club was relegated from the top-flight. The all-time record attendance was 47,671, which was set during an FA Cup tie between The Latics and Sheffield Wednesday in 1930. The ground is anecdotally called ‘the coldest ground in the football league’, with former manager Joe Royle nicknaming it Ice Station Zebra. That might be something to do with the fact that the stadium is the third-highest ground in the Football League after The Hawthorns and Vale Park. It is 509 feet, or 155 meters, above sea level.

Oldham Athletic’s most successful spell in recent times came under the management of Joe Royle, reaching the League Cup final and the semi-finals of the FA Cup in 1990. Their journey to the semis saw them claim numerous top-flight scalps, such as Southampton, Everton, Aston Villa and Arsenal. The success coincided with the installation of a plastic pitch at the stadium, leading to some of the club’s critics suggesting that it gave them an unfair advantage. Whether it was true or not, The Latics gained promotion to the top-flight in 1991 and the pitch had to be removed because of Football League rules. They spent three seasons in the top-flight but their relegation in 1994 began a slippery slope, with the club getting relegated from the Second Division in 1997 and remaining in the third-tier of the English game ever since.

Future Developments

footyzone / Flickr.com

The most immediate thing the club will probably want to do is finish building the new North Stand. The plan was to redevelop the stand in the immediate aftermath of its destruction, but the country’s economic downturn meant those plans had to be put on hold. In 2009 an announcement was made that the club would move to a new build stadium in the Failsworth area, near Manchester. Their application was turned down, however, and Oldham Council offered them £5.7 million to redevelop Boundary Park instead.

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