LIAM Thompson, grafter, tackling machine and hard-as-nails middle-unit man, scooped two of the three major awards at Oldham RL Club’s annual presentation dinner at Whitebank.
Utility forward Thompson (24), one of the 18 players already under contract for next season, was voted players’ player of the year by his peers and was later “lost for words” when he was called on stage a second time to be presented with the equally prestigious player-of-the-year trophy, selected and presented by head coach Scott Naylor.
Commenting on winning the dressing room vote, he answered. “I’m chuffed, it’s the first individual trophy I’ve had since I was 14. Cheers lads.”
A former England schoolboys star, Thompson was reared by Wigan Warriors and Widnes Vikings before becoming one of Naylor’s first signings for Roughyeds in 2013.
Four seasons and 85 senior games later he became his coach’s top gun in a tough first year at Championship level for Naylor’s men and heard the boss describe his contribution as “incredible”.
Said Naylor: “A few of the lads staked a claim, but the award goes to a lad who played in several different positions and has been incredible.
“He’s the most complex person you will ever know, but this year he has been an absolute credit to himself, the team and the club despite a late-season shoulder injury.”
Thompson said: “The season was tough, but we stuck together and came through.
“I had a couple of injections in a shoulder to enable me to get through the last two games. I was asked if I could do a job. And the thought of saying ‘no’ never crossed my mind.
“We would have been devastated to go back down so I was determined to do my bit alongside the other lads.”
Hooker Kenny Hughes was voted Supporters’ player of the year, to the loud acclaim of diners, and there was special recognition for forwards Michael Ward and Phil Joy, who both reached the career milestone of 100 Oldham games during the season under review.
Ward has reached 125 and Joy 102, ahead of Danny Langtree (99), Lewis Palfrey (96), Kenny Hughes (92), Liam Thompson (85) and Sammy Gee (82).
All seven were among players who pulled off one of the biggest ever Challenge Cup upsets by winning at Hull KR and who, in recognition of that memorable feat, received their playing kit from the match, a souvenir programme and the match DVD.
Dave Naylor was re-presented with his Supporters Direct Community Champion award for his sterling work on the upgrading and improving of the Roughyeds’ website, which he promised to improve even further in the coming months.
An Unsung Hero award went to keen fan John Davies for his essential voluntary work on match days, which includes the announcing over the Bower Fold public address system.
Clubman of the year, named by chairman Chris Hamilton, was conditioner Ryan Dixon, a Salford University student in strength and conditioning, who was said to have done a wonderful job in his first season at professional level.
Ryan worked in liaison with senior conditioner Kane Daniels, who is employed full time by Huddersfield Giants.
Final award of the night was made by ORSA (Oldham Roughyeds Supporters Association) to club chairman Chris Hamilton, who has been at the helm since Oldham RLFC (1997) Ltd was launched 19 years ago.
In making the presentation, ORSA official Sheila Somerville paid tribute to Chris’s hard work, commitment and dedication to the club across two decades.
She said: “Next year we’ll be celebrating our 20th season. It’s been a roller-coaster, but we’ve had a lot to celebrate in the last two seasons.
“As we look ahead to the next part of the journey we hope to get more people supporting the club and the team.
“One person has been at the helm and has given us a lot over the past 19 years and but for his hard work and dedication we wouldn’t be here tonight.”
ORSA will sponsor two players next season — Liam Thompson and Scott Turner.