‘Celebration Sunday’… 10 years on: The heroes of Oldham Athletic’s legendary 6-0 drubbing of Grimsby Town

By Matthew Lees

Celebration Sunday. Ten years ago, but not a day Oldham fans are likely to forget.

Celebrating coming out of administration, a free game for the fans… and a 6-0 victory. 

The story: After losing out in the 2003 Second Division (League One) play-offs to Queens Park Rangers, Oldham Athletic’s owner Chris Moore walked away from the club shortly afterwards. 

Administration followed in October 2003 forcing marketing manager Sean Jarvis and club accountant Neil Joy to buy the club for just £1 and in an effort to keep the club alive and find a buyer.

An American consortium eventually stepped in at the eleventh hour to save Athletic. ‘The Three Amigos’ – Danny Gazal, Simon Blitz and Simon Corney took ownership of the club once it exited administration.

The New York-based English businessmen allowed fans into Boundary Park f to watch Oldham’s match against Grimsby Town to celebrate. A host of former Latics favourites including Andy Ritchie, Jimmy Frizzell, Earl Barrett Frankie Bunn, Richard Jobson, and Joe Royle were also in attendance.

Believe it or not, tomorrow marks ten years since ‘Celebration Sunday’.  A decade on from that famous 6-0 win MM has taken a look to see what has happened since.


The Clubs


A decade later Latics are still in League One making them the division’s longest serving team.

Talbot took the reins from Eyres and Sheridan in March 2004 and since then there has been nine managers/caretakers in charge.

Sheridan took Oldham to the play-offs in 2006 but was replaced by legend Royle for a short-lived period between March and May 2009.

The current boss, Lee Johnson was appointed in March 2013 and is the Football League’s youngest at 32.

Corney is now chairman of Oldham after Blitz resigned in July 2010 with Gazal also leaving the club.

Grimsby Town

A day after the 6-0 drubbing, player / manager Paul Groves was relieved of his managerial duties but stayed on the Blundell Park playing staff.

They were relegated that campaign, finishing 21st. They missed out on promotion of the final day of the 2005-06 season and were knocked out of the play-offs shortly afterwards.

The following year they were runners-up in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final at Wembley.

The Mariners were relegated out of the Football League for the first time in their history in 2010 and are still in the Conference Premier after failure in last year’s play-offs.


The players

Goalkeeper: Les Pogliacomi

The Australian was in his second season at Boundary Park having claimed a club-record 19 clean sheets in his debut campaign.

He had two spells with Oldham and reached the play-offs in the first year of both stints. After 187 appearances he was forced to return home due to injury.

He played for Campbelltown City before retiring, aged 37, last September to spend time with his family.

Right-Back: Dean Holden

The defender currently plays for Athletic’s League One rivals Walsall but has yet to make a first-team appearance this season.

He was captain at Boundary Park before leaving for Peterborough United in June 2005 after 113 games.The 34-year-old them moved to Scotland after Falkirk paid an undisclosed fee. 

Spells with Shrewsbury Town, Chesterfield and Rochdale followed on returning to England before joining his current club in July 2012.

Centre-Back: Will Haining

A product of the Oldham youth system, the Scot made 180 appearances for Latics. After nine years at Boundary Park he returned north of the border and moved to St Mirren on a free.

In 2009 he returned to England by signing for Morecambe and had a seven game loan spell at Fleetwood Town two years later.

He currently plays for Conference side Hyde FC. Haining is married to glamour model Michelle Marsh.

Centre-Back: Gareth Owen

On loan from Stoke City at the time of ‘Celebration Sunday’, he had three spells with Oldham. A second loan term followed the next season before signing permanently for £50,000 in May 2005.

However he only made 21 appearances in two years and moved to local rivals Stockport County for a nominal fee in June 2007 following a loan period.

The English-born Welshman returned to the Potteries in November 2008, after a loan with Yeovil Town, by signing for Port Vale. Aged 31 he retired from playing in January 2013 and is now Under-12 coach at Stoke.

Left-Back: Adam Griffin

Born in Salford, Griffin came through Athletic’s youth ranks and made 79 first-team appearances. In scoring the third goal on ‘Celebration Sunday’ he netted his first Latics goal.

He moved to Edgeley Park permanently in July 2006 after a loan spell, like teammate Owen.

He played for Darlington and Stockport again before moving to Hyde in August 2011. The 29-year-old currently plays for Altrincham FC after joining in December.

Midfield: Jermaine Johnson

The winger signed on loan for Athletic in November 2003 from Bolton Wanderers.  He scored his fourth goal of the season when he made the ‘Celebration Sunday’ score line 4-0.

After impressing he extended his loan deal in May 2004 ann stayed for two years.  He then crossed the Pennines and moved to Bradford City on a free.

On January transfer deadline day 2007, he left the Bantams, joining Yorkshire foes Sheffield Wednesday for £500,000. The 33-year-old is currently the Owls’ longest serving player.

Midfield: Paul Murray

At the end of the 2003/04 season, after more than a century of Oldham appearances, Murray linked up with former Latics manager Mick Wadsworth at Portuguese side Beira-Mar.

He returned to his hometown club Carlisle United partly due to injury in July 2006. Almost a decade after leaving Boundary Park, the midfielder returned in January 2013 following spells at Gretna, Shrewsbury Town and Hartlepool United.

A month later boss Paul Dickov left and Murray was called upon along with Cliff Byrne and Paul Gerrard to assist caretaker manager Tony Philliskirk. He is now Oldham’s first-team coach.

Midfield: Danny Boshell

The midfielder spent six years at Boundary Park after coming through the youth ranks. However he only made 88 appearances and scored just four goals.

After a loan spell at Bury ended in May 2005 he joined ‘Celebration Sunday’ losers Grimsby on a free. He left the Mariners in February 2010 and had a two month spell at Chesterfield before joining current club Guiseley.

He had a short spell with Altrincham in May 2013 before returning to the Yorkshire-based, Conference North team as player-assistant manager.

Midfield: John Sheridan

The former Republic of Ireland midfielder was player-caretaker manager with teammate David Eyres at the time as Iain Dowie relocated to Crystal Palace in December 2003. They were eventually replaced by Brian Talbot a month later.

After playing through the pain barrier Sheridan retired at the end of the season – a few months short of his 40th birthday.

The midfielder did repalce Ronnie Moore as manager in the summer of 2006 and had two and a half years in charge – which included reaching the play-offs in his first full season in charge.

He became Chesterfield boss in June 2009 and won the League Two title (2010-11) and Johnstone’s Paint Trophy (2011-12).  He is currently at Plymouth Argyle after being appointed on January 6 last year.

Forward: John Eyre

He could also play in midfield and was in his second stint at Boundary Park – his first began during Oldham’s final season in the Premier League.

He played for Scunthorpe United and hometown club Hull City before returning to Latics in July 2001.

After four years and more than 100 appearances he was released. After playing for non-league teams North Ferriby United and Brigg Town he decided to retire.

He is currently Hull’s kit man.

Forward: Scott Vernon

Another product of the Oldham youth system, the striker got in the celebratory mood by  scoring a hat-trick. Less than a year later cemented his place in the club’s folklore by netting the goal that knocked Manchester City out of the FA Cup.

He fell out of favour soon afterwards and was used a makeweight to bring Richie Wellens to Boundary Park in 2005. Vernon struggled for first-team football at Blackpool and Colchester United and was loaned out regularly.

In July 2010 the 30-year-old moved to Scotland by signing for current club Aberdeen on a free.

Substitute 1: Danny Hall (replaced Haining, 8th minute)

The 30-year-old, born in Ashton-under-Lyne, was picked up by Oldham’s Centre of Excellence in 1999 after playing for Stalybridge Celtic as a youngster.

The centre-back swapped Athletic for Shrewsbury in May 2006 after 79 first-team appearances in four years. 

Injuries plagued his highly promising career with Hall now playing for Celtic Nation in Division One of the Northern League having been at Gretna, Chesterfield, Darlington, Stockport, Crawley Town, Forest Green Rovers, Hyde and Altrincham.

Substitute 2: David Eyres (replaced Sheridan, 55th minute)

During the game, the evergreen winger replaced his fellow player-caretaker manager Sheridan.

He ended his 18-year professional career with Oldham at the end of the 2005-06 season after 241 appearances, aged 42.

He had spells in non-league with Hyde, Mossley and Hednesford Town before eventually retiring in 2008. He now works as a radio pundit and agent.

Substitute 3: Calvin Zola (replaced Vernon, 61st minute)

On loan at the time from Newcastle United, he came off the bench and scored the sixth and final goal in the 85th minute.

Despite a productive spell with Latics he moved to Tranmere Rovers once it finished. Crewe Alexandra paid £200,000 for the DR Congolese striker in June 2008.

Zola had a loan period with Burton Albion before signing permanently in July 2011. The 29-year-old joined Aberdeen last summer linking up with ex-Oldham teammate Vernon.

Substitute 4: Ernie Cooksey

The midfielder, an unused replacement on ‘Celebration Sunday’, left Oldham at the start of the following season after falling out of favour with Talbot.

He signed for neighbours Rochdale.  Cooksey was diagnosed with diagnosed with a recurrence of a malignant melanoma – a severe form of skin cancer – in February 2008 and passed away that same year on July 3  aged just 28.

Substitute 5: Keiren Westwood

The goalkeeper was on loan from Manchester City at the time. He moved to Carlisle United the following summer and played for Coventry City before joining Premier League side Sunderland in July 2011.

The 17-time Republic of Ireland international is currently out injured with a shoulder injury.


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