GARY Middlehurst has followed Lewis Palfrey to Rochdale Hornets, leaving behind a glowing endorsement of his seven-month stay at Oldham.
According to the Hornets’ website, he has told Rochdale that key to Oldham’s Championship survival this year was terrific team spirit within a closely-knit group.
“Gary also told us that, in terms of how he had played and the group of people he was with, this year was the best he had ever had,” said Roughyeds’ chairman Chris Hamilton.
Previously with Rochdale and North Wales Crusaders, Middlehurst made his Oldham debut in March and played in 24 games out of a possible 29, mainly in the second-row, but a few times at centre.
Having helped Roughyeds to stay in the Championship, he now goes back to the club where, in 2011 and 2012, he started to build a reputation as a fearless forward who would always compete well above his weight.
An experienced back-row man, 33 later this month, he links up at Spotland with his close friend and former Crusaders team mate Jono Smith.
And as he lives in Widnes and Hornets train at Padgate, near Warrington, it will be much easier for him on training nights.
Added Hamilton: “He had told us he was struggling with all the travelling to Oldham (three times a week plus game day).
“He’s self-employed, leaving for work early in the morning and never sure of what time he’ll get home. Training at Padgate would appeal to him.”
Nathan Chappell from Sheffield Eagles, Oldham’s latest signing, will be regarded as a replacement for Middlehurst, who said: “I’ve got unfinished business at Rochdale.
“When I was last there I was sent off twice in one season and was banned for about 10 games. I was stupid and lost my head, but I’ve calmed down and haven’t been sent off since.
“At Oldham I struggled at first because I had taken a year out and I didn’t have a pre-season.
“The Championship is a lot more intense and a lot more physical than League 1.”
Hornets have also signed Oldham-born full-back Miles Greenwood from Halifax — another ex-Roughyed to put alongside Middlehurst, Palfrey, David Cookson and Josh Crowley.