There were countless ‘pub’ teams in the late 19th century, particularly in the Northwest of the country. John Garland, the landlord of the Featherstall and Junction Hotel, formed one such team in 1895. They derived their name, Pine Villa, from the Pine Cotton Mill in whose shadow they played. Actually the club’s first ground was Berry’s Field before they moved to Pine Mill.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the town a local professional club had existed by the name of Oldham County. They had hardly flourished in their short history and went into liquidation by 1899. Pine Villa moved to their home at The Athletic Grounds, on Sheepfoot Lane and inspired by the now more grandiose surroundings they changed their name to Oldham Athletic.
After a rent dispute with the landlord they exchanged The Athletics Ground for Hudson Fold, the same-to all intents and purposes- as the former venue at Pine Mill. In 1906 Oldham Athletic became a Limited Company, a status that saw them return to The Athletics Ground, which eventually became known as Boundary Park.
The early Latics, derived from the local dialect pronunciation of the word Athletic, wore regular red and white stripes or hoops but had changed to blue and white by the time they played in The Manchester League and Lancashire Combination, before gaining admittance to the second division of The Football League in 1908.
The late Thirties saw the introduction of a new distinctive style of white shirts with a broad blue panel, before changing to hoops in the post-War period. Back came the blue panel that was en vogue until the arrival of a young Ken Bates in 1965. In an effort to change fortunes at the club he introduced tangerine shirts and blue shorts to give a distinctive edge. In 1974 the blue and white theme returned in recognition of former glories, but now in a simpler, plain version, with red trim from their first days added in the Nineties.
A distinctive kit of blue and red hoops appeared in the late Nineties, followed by a return for a short period of the white shirts with a broad blue stripe from the earliest days. However, simplicity finally won out and the club returned to a basically all-blue strip trimmed with red.
The first emblem was the former coat of arms of Oldham. The shield from the arms originates from that of the ancient Owldham family. It shows three white owls, as a pun on “Owldham”, divided by a plain gold chevron. The chevron and chief have fluted edges. This decorative edge may have been suggested by that of the diagonal stripes or “bendlets” in the arms of the Radcliffes, who held Oldham at one period. There is a Lancashire rose on a plain gold chief across the top of the shield and two O’s, the initials for Oldham. The owl in the crest is shown on its rock rising from a gold circlet, charged with three Lancashire roses. The motto reads ‘Sapere Aude’. Like the owl it contains a play on the name, the second word “Aude” containing the syllable “Owd” of the local pronunciation of “Owdham” or “Owldham”. The motto translates as “Dare to be wise”.
Our bird of wisdom has appeared in various guises over the years, accompanied by three Lancashire roses from 1946 till 1955, perched on a football in the Sixties and Seventies, and from 1981 on accompanied by an elegant red sash with the club name.