Mark Hughes is a respected figure in football, a glittering career as a player has led to managerial achievements and he is universally liked as a man and as a professional. I however am an Oldham Athletic fan, so I hate him.
Under Joe Royle, the Latics dared to dream for five glorious years between 1989 and 1994, we had cup final and semi-final appearances, goals galore and finally promotion to the first ever Premier League season in 1992 . When Sky TV invested millions in football broadcast rights I doubt the trendily-spectacled creatives wanted the image of a sweaty, ugly, ginger, balding Andy Ritchie running on a treadmill as part of their prime marketing push. Our elevation gave them no choice in the matter.
Oldham stayed in the top division that first season on goal difference thanks to a typical humdinging 4-3 win against Southampton on the final day. The 1993-94 season was an equal struggle, but we did put a decent FA Cup run together, bringing us face to face with Manchester United in the semi to be held at Wembley.
The game itself was so turgid that I half expected Leonard Cohen to be the half-time entertainment, but this all changed in the second period. From a corner, United keeper Schmeichel dropped the ball and Oldham full-back Neil Pointon, fresh from a tour as the lead singer of Iron Maiden, smashed the ball in. All we had to do now was hold on. And hold on we did, until 41 seconds from the end.
Brian McClair hoofed the ball over his head into the area and as the ball dropped over Mark Hughes' shoulder, and while four feet in the air and parallel to the ground, he scored one of his specials by volleying it full blooded into the top corner of Jon Hallworth's net. To this day I am convinced that he dislocated his leg to hit the ball it was so improbable a strike. United went absolutely bananas, but for us it was the end of our season.
We had a tough run-in to face in our attempt to stay up, but that one strike laid waste to our fight and our desire. If you watch the slow-motion replay, as Sparky peels away to celebrate you can actually see the souls of the Latics players drop out of the bottom of their shorts. We were hammered 4-1 in the replay.
The ripples of this moment could not have been in more stark contrast for each club. United had until this point been struggling for recent form, they had lost the League Cup to Aston Villa, and indifferent League performances threatened their push for the title. Following Hughes' volley, they put together a run of wins that secured the League and then the Double by defeating Chelsea in the final. They have done alright since as well I think.
Oldham spent the rest of the season looking like they were running through treacle, and when the drop came it was as painful as it was inevitable. Captain Mike Milligan left for Norwich and centre-back Richard Jobson went off to reform The Skids. Joe Royle himself took the Everton job in the autumn and the club then dropped once more two years later. There have since been liquidation scares, bungled takeovers and more managers than a branch of McDonald's.
Still, at least we're not Leeds.