A PRE-MATCH chat with a group of Oldham fans enjoying a pie and a pint on Saturday left no doubt as to the enduring popularity of Andy Ritchie at Boundary Park.
Now Town's top brass are hoping the 46-year-old proves a far bigger hit than the last man to manage both the trans-Pennine rivals.
While Mick Wadsworth was at the helm when Town were relegated from League I during the dark days of 2002-03, Ritchie's mission is to take the Galpharm club into the Championship.
It's a jump he made a year ago, when his Barnsley side kicked Town out of the play-off semi-finals, then went on to see off Swansea.
But the joy didn't last at the Reds, with Ritchie being sacked in November.
While there are various versions of what went on behind the scenes at Oakwell, there is no doubting Ritchie's prowess as a player.
The Mancunian, who started out at Old Trafford, made 661 appearances and scored 210 goals for five different clubs.
After notching 13 in 33 games for Manchester United (his debut was in 1977-78), he hit the target for Brighton (23 goals in 89 games after he became their then-record £500,000 signing in October 1980), Leeds (40 in 136) and Scarborough (17 in 68).
But there's no doubt he peaked during his first spell at Oldham, where he remains synonymous with the club's glorious period under Joe Royle, when they reached two FA Cup semi-finals, the 1990 Littlewoods Cup final and won the old Second Division in 1991.
Royle helped reignite Ritchie's career as an out-and-out frontman after Billy Bremner had played him in midfield at Leeds.
With Oldham in the original Division II, he beat off competition from Portsmouth, freshly promoted to the top flight, to snap up Ritchie for £50,000 in August 1987.
He became the focal point of a team which included Earl Barrett, Denis Irwin, Ian Marshall, Mike Milligan and Rick Holden, his second in command at Barnsley.
Oldham - and Ritchie - achieved national recognition as a result of their cup heroics.
They defeated Aston Villa and Everton in the 1990 FA Cup before losing to Manchester United in the semi-final.
A month earlier, they had reached the Littlewoods (League) Cup final, losing 1-0 to Nottingham Forest.
Four years later Ritchie suffered more FA Cup semi-final agony.
Oldham were within seconds of a place in the final but Mark Hughes volleyed a late equaliser and Manchester United won the subsequent replay 4-1.
Latics were relegated at the end of that 1993-94 season and Royle left for Everton soon afterwards.
Ritchie applied for the manager's job but Graeme Sharp was appointed.
Ritchie remained in good form but was surprisingly given a free transfer at the end of the 1994-95 season.
After three years at Scarborough, Ritchie returned to Oldham as Neil Warnock's playing assistant in 1997, becoming manager in May 1998.
But Ritchie's time in charge coincided with a barren period for the Lancashire club, by then in what is now League I.
There was little money to spend on players and Ritchie's first full season as manager ended in a desperate battle to avoid relegation.
In the next two seasons Ritchie's team finished 14th and 15th but the fans blamed problems at boardroom level, rather than the manager.
Ritchie's side were top of the table early in the 2001-02 campaign, but that didn't stop chairman Chris Moore driving through plans to restructure the Latics' coaching set-up.
Ritchie was offered the grand title of technical director designate, effectively giving him overall responsibility for all footballing matters, but he departed the club on October 31 of that year.
Two and a half months later, he returned to Leeds to succeed Brian Kidd as head of the Elland Road Academy (a stint that will certainly have counted in his favour during discussions with Town).
In 2004, he took charge of the Barnsley Academy, and when first-team manager Paul Hart departed in March 2005, he stepped up as caretaker, with the post being made permanent at the end of that campaign.
Less than a month before sacking Ritchie, Barnsley rejected Sheffield Wednesday's request to speak to him about their managerial vacancy.
His departure from Oakwell, on November 21, came after Ritchie said he was disappointed the board had refused to discuss a new contract.
The club said their decision was down to a "failure to resolve differences over the need to strengthen the squad to ensure survival in the Championship".