GARY Middlehurst didn’t sign for Oldham to play in a losing side.
“I’m a bad loser. I hate it,” revealed the man who, in only a handful of games in the Roughyeds’ jersey, has become a firm favourite of the Bower Fold regulars.
At 32, he is the squad’s senior citizen, a couple of years older than half-backs Steve Roper and Danny Grimshaw.
But he has lost none of the fire and brimstone which built him a reputation as a mean and menacing opponent in his years with Rochdale and North Wales Crusaders.
His all-action displays down the Roughyeds’ left side were a large part of the wins against long-established Championship sides Batley Bulldogs and Sheffield Eagles.
Next up, on Saturday (2pm kick-off), is the small matter of a fifth-round Ladbrokes Challenge Cup tie at Super League Club Hull KR, last season’s Wembley finalists, and then its back to the bread-and-butter business of Championship survival with a trip to Whitehaven followed by a May Day battle with Featherstone Rovers at Bower Fold.
“There’s a lot of talk of ‘survival’ but I think we’ll stay up comfortably,” said Middlehurst.
“Since those terrible defeats over Easter, Scott (coach Naylor) has told us to go out and express ourselves and play with confidence and self-belief and it’s working.
“We’ve set a standard for ourselves now and if we can maintain it I don’t think we should have any concerns about staying up.
“At the very least I can see us finishing two places above the bottom two and maybe another couple of places higher than that which would take us to half-way.
“It’s a tough competition. Nobody is running away with it.”
Midddlehurst, who has always played above his weight, revealed that he lost three stone in the six months before he signed for Oldham while he and his wife were travelling around the world.
“I’ve put some of it back on,” he added, “but I still need to add about another seven or eight pounds.
“Whichever club I’ve been at, I’ve never done much training over and above what I do with the club.”