IF there was ever a good time to launch a book about a football club’s halcyon days then in the midst of the worst period in the club’s history might not be it.

Fans at loggerheads with an unpopular owner, protests, transfer embargo, the agonising prospect of becoming the first former Premier League club to exit the Football League, and now - currently - managerless. The picture for Oldham Athletic is bleak.

But in a strange way, the timing for author Mike Keegan having ‘This Is How It Feels: An English Football Miracle’ published could not be better.

For it serves as a reminder to those who lived through Oldham’s rise to the Premier League under Joe Royle just how great life following Latics was, on the 30th anniversary of Royle’s revolution. While for those who came afterwards, the achievements of the past could well offer hope for a brighter future.

“If if you’re going to write a book about how a football team used to be really, really good then a time when they’re almost bottom of the whole Football League might not be the worst time to get it out there,” said Keegan.

“But obviously that wasn’t the intention. I wish that things were different.

“But, that said, I just hope that people who buy it and read it can get a bit of joy in what’s obviously not a very good time for the club or its supporters.

Keegan is the Sports News Correspondent and Sports Agenda Editor at the Daily Mail. He has been a journalist for 15 years and has also worked at the BBC after starting his career at the Manchester Evening News. It was for the MEN that he covered Oldham Athletic, and was also the district news reporter for Oldham and Rochdale, which helped him to gain unparalleled access to figures within the club and the town.

“I used to cover Oldham for the MEN in 2013-14 and I got to know Gordon Lowton,” he said.

“He’d been at the club since 1985 and had started off on the lottery and pretty much done every job at the club. He used to do the media side of things and would edit the programme, that kind of stuff.

“So when we came in for a press conference we’d have a chat and he knew that I was an Oldham fan and he’d often be telling tales from the team of 89/90, and he used to say ‘you need to write a book about this because no-one has written about what went on off the pitch as well as on it, because I can tell you that they got up to some mischief and it’s one of the great untold stories’. So he sent me an email with a list of all the players from the time - Dennis Irwin, Andy Ritchie, Frankie Bunn, Ian Marshall, Neil Adams, and their telephone numbers. And for me as an Oldham fan when all that happened in 89 I was 11, if you’d have told I’d have all these numbers...”

We are speaking on the phone, but by the tone of his voice I could picture his eyes lighting up.

“And that was it,” he continued.

“They we’re all brilliant and all keen to give me their version of events because I think they feel as well this is one of the great untold stories and it’s about time somebody did it.

“As it’s transpired things have gone from bad to worse at the club so it seems like a decent time to get it out there, and obviously the 30th anniversary of the Wednesday game.”

Latics famously came back from 2-0 down to beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-2 to win the old Division Two title - and promotion to the top flight - on the final day of the 1990/91 season.

It is still fresh in the memory of those who witnessed it. For those who came afterwards, particularly those who have only known life in League One and League Two - and some pretty dark footballing days - Keegan’s account of the club’s glory days offers hope.

“As I say at the end of the book ‘This is how it feels’ for a start the Inspiral Carpets are from Oldham so we’ll claim that,” he said.

“I’m 43, anyone who is 40 or below just will not remember that time. The last promotion we had was that one, in 1991. I don’t think there’s another football club on the planet like that, that it’s been that miserable supporting them.

“So when I go to games now and I see people younger than me, especially the kids there, I think it’s bad enough for me, I had these amazing times to start off with. I’ve seen us at Wembley, I’ve seen us take on United and beat United, I’ve seen us beat City multiple times, so I’ve got that to kind of lean on. But all the younger ones are just existing on a diet of mediocrity, and yet they still.

“So the title is kind of a message to them. This is how it feels when it wasn’t like this, when Boundary Park was full every week, when Arsenal came, the champions of England, and got battered; when Villa came, who were top of the First Division at the time with David Platt just about to go to Italia 90 and become a star, and they got thrashed.

“It beggars belief. When Joe Royle was offered the Manchester City job and he turned it down to stay at Oldham.

“Can you imagine that now?!

“You have to pinch yourself, you can’t believe it happened.”

He added: “It’s a book for everyone but the title I hope appeals to those under 40 who don’t know how it feels.

“I’m realistic enough, I don’t think that will ever happen again. But you never know, Bournemouth had a good spell in the Premier League, Brentford are in the Premier League, they’re no bigger than Oldham, so if we can find someone who doesn’t mind spending £300million on a football team in Lancashire then we might be back in business.

“At the moment we are plummeting depths that we’ve not been to in my lifetime. But it is a reminder of times when they were better than now, and it doesn’t have to be as bad as it is now. It really doesn’t.”

Keegan is hoping his book will appeal to a wider audience too.

“There’s a lot of stuff in there that isn’t about the games - the players getting arrested in Spain, the Tuesday club and the shenanigans they get up to, the trips abroad - but also I’ve tried to tell people about the characters involved, so you could pick it up if you were a fan of Newcastle for example and you’d immediately be taken in by the characters and the underdog story itself,” he said.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the responses and the reaction that I’ve had from people on Twitter so far, from colleagues in the media who support the likes of Arsenal, United, City, Everton, who’ve all said ‘I remember that team, I can’t wait to read this’.

“So hopefully it does appeal to anyone who likes a good underdog story.”