SCOTT Vernon will never forget the roar as Kevin Keegan’s Manchester City were humbled at Boundary Park.

More than 13,000 had packed in that January afternoon in 2005, a good proportion of which ended up on the pitch celebrating a famous result with the players.

Vernon had scored the crucial goal – but the victory owed much to a partisan atmosphere and a once-in-a-lifetime performance from goalkeeper Les Pogliacomi.

This was not the yet the City funded by Middle Eastern billions but a side still packed with experience and international quality. And as Keegan, five years removed as manager of England, sunk ever-deeper into his coat collar he may have contemplated that his time with the Blues was also coming to an end.

The Oldham Times: Kevin Keegan can hardly watch at Boundary ParkKevin Keegan can hardly watch at Boundary Park

“It feels like a lifetime ago,” says Vernon, now 37 and still banging in the goals for Cleethorpes Town. “But the other day I listened to the commentary and heard Gordon Lawton celebrating when the goal went in and thought: ‘Go on Gordon!’

“You remember the fans flooding on to the pitch at the end, and all of a sudden you are just hugging everyone. There are arms and legs everywhere.

The Oldham Times: Scott Vernon is congratulated by a fan after beating Manchester CityScott Vernon is congratulated by a fan after beating Manchester City

“It was an amazing day and for a lad like me, who was just starting his career, it is one that has never left me.”

City were ninth in the Premier League at the time, while Brian Talbot’s Latics were 15th in League One and heading for another managerial change just a month later.

“It wasn’t a team that was going to win the league but you look down the team-sheet and there were some massive names on there,” said Vernon, who hopes his former club can repeat the feat at Championship Bournemouth today.

“The two centre-halves I was up against were Sylvain Distin and Richard Dunne and you had Shaun Wright-Phillips, Joey Barton, David James in goal – and I think he was playing for England at the time – plus they were throwing Steve McManaman on from the bench. We were massive underdogs.”

The Oldham Times: David James shows his dejection at the final whistle David James shows his dejection at the final whistle

Despite the disparity in quality on the team-sheets, Vernon felt oddly confident on the day that there could be a shock in store.

“You just get a feeling and I’d had it all day,” he said.

“The place was packed and once the game started we were happy, it felt good.

“I got the goal quite early on and it settled things, gave us that determination that we could hang on.

“City had a few big chances but Les was unbelievable in goal that day and before you knew it you were counting down the minutes at the end.

“I remember turning around to Kevin Betsy at the final whistle and we both had our hands in the air – then out of nowhere the fans were all around us.”

The Oldham Times: Kevin Betsy and Scott Vernon punch the air as the final whistle sounds against Manchester CityKevin Betsy and Scott Vernon punch the air as the final whistle sounds against Manchester City

Stockport-born Vernon joined Oldham at the age of 15, eventually earning a YTS deal during Andy Ritchie’s time in the dugout.

It would be Iain Dowie who gave him his debut against Carlisle in the LDV Vans Trophy, and he provided an instant reward with two goals in a 4-3 defeat on the night.

A first league goal arrived soon after against Stockport, leaving Vernon looking back at those early days with a great deal of fondness.

“It was fantastic because I had a manager who really believed in me,” he said.

“It seemed every week I’d be getting 10 or 15 minutes off the bench, and that experience was so important, so I have a lot to thank Iain for.

“John Sheridan was great as well. He had been caretaker manager a couple of times and, again, you felt like you got a lot of support.

“Other managers come in, and it doesn’t work like that.

“I’d gone from being a sub most of the time to top scorer the next season, and really feeling I belonged in professional football.

“But then I got injured and Ronnie Moore came in to replace Brian Talbot. That was that. My face didn’t fit, and I suppose that happens in football.”

Vernon’s football career continued on an upward trajectory after he left Boundary Park in 2005, earning promotion to the Championship with Blackpool and then repeating the feat with Colchester United.

After a couple of loan spells he then moved north of the border with Aberdeen, enjoying nearly four years at Pittodrie, before seeing his pro career out at Shrewsbury and Grimsby.

These days, Vernon is still getting among the goals in the Northern Premier League and has no plans to stop.

“I still enjoy it,” said the striker, who has trained as a plumber, worked at an oil refinery and in manufacturing since hanging up his boots, not to mention being a dad to two daughters.

“I’m not so keen on the part-time evening training but it keeps you ticking over.

“While the goals are still there, it’s easier to enjoy. When they stop, I probably will too!”