IF Gary McDonald has any advice for the modern-day Latics about how to win an FA Cup tie against higher league opposition, it is probably to chill out and relax.

The non-stop midfielder, whose famous goal at Goodison Park in 2008 sent David Moyes’ Everton packing in the third round, believes the secret to success that day was a steadfast refusal by the players to let the occasion affect them.

McDonald was part of a solid side under John Sheridan which had designs on promotion to the Championship but nevertheless went to Merseyside as heavy underdogs.

And he recalls how even a delayed kick-off, caused by a fire at the local Blue Dragon chip shop, failed to dent the air of calm confidence in the camp.

“I just remember on the day of the game feeling really chilled out,” he told The Oldham Times. “That came from John Sheridan, who had obviously played in that sort of environment before, and his message to the lads was just to enjoy yourselves, don’t be wound up, just play your natural game and do yourselves justice.

“I’d played in Scotland in front of 50-60,000 at Ibrox or Parkhead, so I’d seen how occasions can eat players up. But on that day you looked around the dressing room and really fancied us to go and give Everton a game.”

Doncaster Rovers were beaten in the first round – MacDonald again providing the decisive goal – before Lee Hughes sealed a tie at Goodison with the only goal of the game against Crewe.

Everton were in their pomp under Moyes, progressing in the Europa League and hovering around the top four of the Premier League, having put seven past Sunderland and three past Fulham over the Christmas period.

Fighting on other fronts may have prompted the decision to rest Tim Howard, Joleon Lescott, Phil Neville and Yakubu from the start but, as McDonald underlines, the team-sheet was not exactly lacking in star power.

“They were still a team of internationals but from what I remember, we played really well,” said the Scot. “There were 5,000 Oldham fans going absolutely berserk, and my dad, my brother and my wife were there. It was a surreal day.

“To get the goal. It was a moment I will never forget as long as I live. And my kids are getting to the age now where they are starting to appreciate football, so it’s nice to be able to point to that day and say I was involved.”

As is the norm for an FA Cup giant-killing, the winning goal-scorer is never short of attention.

The Oldham Times:

“I remember doing Match of the Day afterwards, which was great, but then getting back on the bus and Lee Duxbury telling me to go back out there and milk it.

“I went out, did another couple of interviews, and then it’s fair to say we celebrated that night.

“Only problem was that Sky Sports were round my house first thing on Sunday morning – Fraser Dainton it was – and I had to do an interview a bit bleary eyed.”

After signing from Kilmarnock, McDonald’s Oldham career lasted two seasons in League One, the first ending in defeat against Blackpool in the play-off semi-finals.

His goal at Goodison was not the only strike which stands out in the memory – and the former Scotland B international was also responsible for some mad scenes in the away end at Scunthorpe’s Glanford Park as Sheridan’s side snatched a point against nine men.

“We had a great bunch of lads in that squad,” he recalled. “It was a shame that we ran out of steam in the end, whereas Blackpool were going the other way, they were on the up when we played them in the play-offs.

“There was a great mix – big characters like Neal Eardley, goals from Chrissy Taylor, experienced lads like Mark Crossley, Paul Warne, Andy Liddle and Simon Charlton.

“Having a fellow Scot about like Will Haining was great as well. He taught me that I needed to slow down a bit when I spoke because nobody understood what the hell I was on about when I first came down there.

“The club was going well when I arrived, Shez was a young manager making his way and I think it helped he was fresh out of the game because he could identify with the lads and it made for a really good atmosphere.

“For me and my wife it was the first time we’d been away from home and we absolutely loved it at Oldham. I haven’t got a bad word to say about it.”

The Latics dropped off in the following season, finishing eighth alongside their cup run, which ended in the fourth round with a rather anti-climactic home defeat to Huddersfield Town.

For McDonald, the chance to stay for a third season was on the table – but he admits the chance to return north of the border with Aberdeen was difficult to turn down.

“It got to the last six months of my contract and, if I’m honest, it came down to the fact that I felt that Aberdeen wanted me more,” he said. “Jimmy Calderwood was the manager there and he’d been in contact regularly. The deal they offered blew Oldham’s out of the water, financially, but I don’t think that is what made my mind up. I was settled.

“I think as a footballer you should always play where you are really wanted. And for whatever reason I didn’t really feel that with John Sheridan at the time, even though the club made me an offer.

“It is a shame because I wanted to play in England – experience different places, play against players I’d never played against. and I did come back a few years later with Morecambe, which was League Two, but a nice club.

“But I certainly don’t look back with any regret. My dad always said to look forward, whether you’ve missed a chance, or had a bad game. You play where you feel wanted.”

McDonald played into his thirties with Hamilton, Peterhead and St Johnstone, where he featured in the Europa League and won the Scottish Cup Final.

“I think at that point I realised it was coming to an end,” he said. “At one point I’d run all day but as you get older your body starts to tell you. I didn’t want to be one of those players who was hanging on and playing on one knee so when I’d won a medal with St Johnstone I was happy and I knew it was time to move on with my life.”

He has left his “other life” behind him now and has worked in social services for the last three years, getting as much joy from his current job as he did his last.

“You see a lot of professional footballers struggle with that transition. I have to say I didn’t and I absolutely love the job I do,” he said.

“I was really lucky to get a great start in life with football and I think a lot of the experiences I had in the game I can now draw on with the kids I work with – who might have difficult backgrounds but once they find out you used to kick a ball around for a living, you get a little bit of respect.

“I think footballers are big kids anyhow. You talk about Covid bubbles, I lived in a football bubble for years and loved every minute – the laughs in the dressing room, the competitiveness.

“I coach my son’s football team, nine and 10-year-olds running round and driving me bonkers, and I still get pleasure from having a kickaround and getting out there, it doesn’t leave you.

“But with the kids getting to that age now I’d love to come back down to Boundary Park some time and see how it has changed.

"I know they were trying to get that stand built when I was there but had all sorts of planning problems. I see the place on TV and it looks very different now. It would be nice to come back, point to the pitch and tell the them: ‘I used to play on that!’”

“With the world as it is, I’ll bet every football fan is missing it.”