Latics fall to disappointing defeat after hero Frank's big welcome home

Date published: 26 February 2024

Latics' biggest home league crowd since 2004 was inside a packed-out Boundary Park on Saturday to give chairman Frank Rothwell a hero’s return.

The crowd of 11,881 - the fourth-highest National League attendance of all time - ensured Frank received a special welcome home after his phenomenal feat in setting a new world record by becoming the oldest person to row across any ocean solo.

Latics' 73-year-old chairman Frank spent 64 days crossing the Atlantic Ocean on his own - during which time he encountered the toughest of circumstances, capsizing four times and facing extreme difficulties at sea.

There was a carnival atmosphere inside Boundary Park - where Oldham usually attract crowds of 6,900 - as Frank addressed supporters ahead of the fixture against Kidderminster Harriers.

He completed his epic row on February 15 in support of Alzheimer’s Research UK and has now rasied more than £320,000 through his latest accomplishment.

He also completed the row in 2021 and has raised a cumulative total approaching £1.5m for the charity.

This time, he named his boat ‘For A Cure,’ in support of the ongoing work in the fight against dementia.

“To be back here, at Boundary Park, feels fantastic,” Frank said in his pre-match address.

“When you are rowing across an ocean and away for such a long period, all you think about is coming home.

"Being reunited with Judith, my wife of 53 years, and coming back to Oldham Athletic means everything to me.

“I completed the same row three years ago but this time was much more difficult. 

“A few days into the row, I capsized for the first time while I was asleep in my cabin.

"I went outside to put down the sea-anchor, which is attached to the boat, and I was washed overboard as the boat went over again.

"It was the toughest thing I have ever faced.

“One in two of us in the UK will be directly affected by dementia during out lifetime.

"Five of my friends and family members have died because of dementia in recent years and it is the biggest killer in this country.

"I am so grateful to everyone who has donated to help support Alzheimer’s Research UK.”

Lucy Squance, Director of Supporter-led Fundraising at Alzheimer's Research UK, added: “We can’t thank Frank enough for taking on such an epic challenge in support of Alzheimer’s Research UK.

“Dementia is the UK’s biggest killer and we cannot let this go on.

"As the UK’s leading dementia research charity, we are working to revolutionise the way the dementia is diagnosed, treated and prevented.

“Our mission is to accelerate progress for a cure and we can only do it with awesome people like Frank.”

Later, in an interview with Oldham Community Radio 99.7fm, Frank's son Luke, who had monitored his father’s expedition from the start, said: ”You don’t realize how much it’s been on your mind every single day until it’s over.

"Our worries were massive.

”The feeling when he came over the finishing line was ultimate.”

With over £320,00 raised so far, donations can still be made to Frank’s incredible fundraising efforts online here

On the field, Alex Penny put the struggling Harriers in front in some style in the 22nd minute, striding forward from midfield before letting fly with a shot from distance which nestled in the net.

Nathan Sheron levelled four minutes into the second half, finishing from inside the area, but Kidderminster were back in front nine minutes later.

Ashley Hemmings swung in a corner which Reiss McNally headed home.

And this time there was no response from the hosts as Harriers boosted their survival hopes.

Latics boss Micky Mellon said: "It took us to get to the second half to understand what the game was asking us.

"We started to compete a lot better but it was still a scrappy game.

"I would have still wanted to get more control of the game, but either it wasn't allowing us to do that or we weren't showing the qualities to be able to do that."

Latics are back in action on Tuesday night when they travel south to take on Eastleigh.

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