There are moments in life that stand out. Shared with friends and family, important to you when they perhaps mean little to others.
Five years and three weeks ago the not so mighty Oldham beat five times champions of Europe Liverpool 3-2. A guy called Matt Smith, who seemed like he couldn’t hit a barn door during most of his career at Boundary Park scored twice. Chris was ball boy. Matt and friends joined me behind the goal. As we exited the stadium in a state of shocked disbelief the news came through of the draw for the next round. Everton at home in the fifth round. Wow.
It was a poignant day. We’d lost a close family friend, Tricia, that morning. Lung cancer as a coincidence. It felt like she’d departed to organise some happiness on a day that had started desperately sadly.
Then, three weeks later, five years ago today came that moment. Whereas beating Liverpool was a wonderful achievement, Oldham were never behind in that game. There was tension as they clung on. Humour in the dying moments as Chris recovered the ball for a Liverpool corner and “accidentally” rolled it between Suarez and an agitated Shelvey as the clock ticked down. But while the goals caused excitement and the final whistle joyous relief, the Everton game brought a single exhilarating moment that stands out.
Oldham had taken the lead but Everton entered injury time 2-1 ahead. Corners for Oldham. Fourth and final minute of injury time. The Oldham goalkeeper runs the length of the pitch, joining the crowd of players in the Everton penalty area, causing mayhem as the ball swings towards the six yard box. Through a crowd of players came the now legendary Smith. Six foot six inches of power headed the ball goalwards. And in. The stadium erupted. The final whistle blew. 2-2 final score. A money spinning replay on Merseyside. But just to be part of that moment of the ball hitting the net was an extraordinary feeling.
Fans remained in the stadium celebrating a draw as if they’d won the trophy for fifteen minutes after the game. Smith did a solo lap of honour. And when anybody asks “why do you watch that shit?” there’s a simple answer. Moments like that.
Time flies. Circumstances change. But memories matter.