With grassroots football currently on hold because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the L&C are profiling its member clubs. This week, Andy Rowlandson, Development Officer at AFC Oldham, talks about the club’s history and its journey to the present day.
AFC Oldham have been in the Lancashire & Cheshire AFL since we were formed in 2005, prior to that our open age section ran as Clarksfield St. Edwards who had joined the league back in 1986.
At the time of our inclusion, the club was primarily run by one man, the late Bob Rowlandson. Bob had held every position that was possible at the club and was the current club secretary, treasurer, discipline officer etc.
This continued until 2005 when Clarksfield St. Edwards merged with Oldham Teachers and Littlemoor Juniors to form AFC Oldham. This brought many new players in and some helping hands to join our newly formed committee. 16 years on and a few of those are still at the club doing a great job, Jimmy and Teresa Smith, Ross Elliott and myself.
The club started with three open age teams and they were placed appropriately throughout the league. Over the next few seasons, the teams held their own in their respective divisions, with our first success coming in 2007-2008 when our third team won the Division E Title. This was followed by our first team winning the Rhodes Cup in 2012-2013, with another taste of success for our thirdteam in 2017-2018, winning the Hellawell Shield.
We were also recipients of the league’s Fair Play Award in 2018-2019.
In 2014-2015 our high flying first team finished Runners Up in the Premier Division, but unfortunately, several players were causing major problems within the club.
The executive committee decided, for a variety of reasons, that a change was needed and removed the complete first team and management set up. Ross Elliott (then third team manager) and our third team, stepped up to play as our first team in the 2015-16 season, finishing bottom of Division two.
Over the next few years, Ross developed and improved the first team, establishing them in Division one and Andy Steel joined him at the helm in the summer of 2019.
In March 2020 our first team were top of Division one and unbeaten all season, but with just three games left, the season was curtailed due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and any celebratory plans were cancelled.
Despite this setback, the club were promoted back to the Premier Division and as I write this, we currently sit joint second in the table.
Again, we may miss out on the possibility of silverware due to the season of 2020-2021 being ended early again because of this awful ongoing pandemic. But in my eyes, it is a team capable in of winning the Premier Division very soon.
Alongside myself, Ross, Jimmy and Teresa we have introduced new committee members over the years who have helped build and develop AFC Oldham – Peter Bird came in as Club Chairman and now Club President, and despite his years, he has helped steer the club in the right direction.
Andy Steel came in as second team manager and showed immediate success off the field as he was awarded Volunteer of the Year awards for Oldham and Greater Manchester in 2018. Andy also took over our Ladies team and guided them to the semi-finals of the MFA County Cup last season.
There are many more people at the club I could name who have helped make this club what it is today and I would like to thank them all for the hard work they have put in over the years and for the many years to come.