SCOTT Naylor’s relatively small squad of Oldham part-timers, who have to get up and go to work the day after a game, are bracing themselves for the toughest eight days of their sporting lives.
They will play three Championship games in that time, two of them against full-time professionals, only one of them at Bower Fold and the last of the three requiring a trip to London with an early-morning pick-up and a late-night return.
They go to Dewsbury Rams on Sunday (3pm); play Bradford Bulls at home in a twice re-arranged fixture next Wednesday (8pm); and end up in London on the following Sunday to face the Broncos (3pm).
“Three games in eight days is a tall order, but we’ll be giving it our best shot,” said Naylor, whose Championship new boys are battling to stay in the division on one of the smallest budgets of the 12 clubs involved and despite a long injury list that currently claims eight senior players.
With 15 games still to play — eight in the regular season and then seven in the Championship Shield — there will be plenty of opportunity for Naylor’s men to turn things round after four league defeats in a row.
Apart from Dewsbury’s stunning 16-14 win at Bradford, other results in the lower end of the table last weekend went in Oldham’s favour with heavy defeats for Workington, Whitehaven, Sheffield Eagles and Swinton Lions.
“That’s okay, but I’m more interested in what we do than what the others do,” said Naylor. “We’ve got to start winning again. It will all boil down to how many wins we end up with. I don’t want us to be looking over our shoulders all the time at other results.”
By a strange twist of irony, Roughyeds have unwittingly brought the totally unreasonable demands of the next few days on themselves and by their own success.
When the Bradford home game was first postponed on March 6 because of snow it was provisionally rescheduled for Sunday, May 8, the day set aside for sixth-round Challenge Cup ties, providing both clubs were no longer involved in the knock-out competition.
Bradford were’nt, but Oldham played Warrington Wolves in the last 16 of the cup after their sensational 36-22 win at Hull KR in the previous round.
There were no more free weekends so the Bulls come to Bower Fold next Wednesday, providing Roughyeds with their first home game in four and a half weeks and one which club officials hope will attract the biggest league-match gate of the season if not the best overall.
Unlike Sunday’s opponents, Dewsbury, who have lost Joel Farrell to a three-match ban, Bradford will come desperate for points to get into the top four and buoyed by Danny Addy’s ‘not guilty’ verdict at the disciplinary hearing and by their recent signings of Aussie full-back Kieren Moss and young half-back Lewis Charnock from St Helens.
Moss (22) comes from Parramatta Eels and links up again with Bulls boss Rohan Smith with whom he worked in his formative years at Penrith Panthers.
Pacy backs Omar Caro and James Clare have signed extended contracts — and Smith says Bulls are looking to strengthen even more in pursuit of a top-four finish and then a concerted attack on the ‘Middle Eights’ to regain their Super League status.
* Oldham RL merchandise — home and away shirts, polo shirts and hoodies — can now be bought from Whitebank from 9.30am each week day to 1.30pm on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; to 3pm on Wednesday; and to 4pm on Friday.
They will also be available at Bower Fold on match days in the hour before kick-off.