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Home-sweet-home for the new boys

NINE of Oldham’s ten new signings are likely to be on view in the Roughyeds’ first home game of 2018 at the refurbished Vestacare Stadium (3pm) on Sunday.

Liam Bent, a young forward from Salford Red Devils, is the odd man out. He dislocated an elbow in the Law Cup win at Rochdale.

The others are in contention to make home debuts against Keighley Cougars in the Roughyeds’ only warm-up game to be played in Oldham.

Watch out for goal-kicking stand-off Paul Crook, one of League 1’s leading points scorers in recent years, and big centre Matt Reid, captain of Coventry Bears last year and two-try man of the match in the Roughyeds’ impressive Law Cup win at Rochdale.

Full-back Kyran Johnson, from Featherstone Rovers, has pace to burn on kick returns and should benefit from playing on the Vestacare Stadium’s new artificial pitch.

An expensive 3G of the highest quality, it supports both rugby league and football and is said to be the only one of its type in the borough.

It should also suit Dave Eccleston, a 21-year-old winger from St Helens, who figured prominently in the derby triumph at Rochdale, but didn’t play at Barrow.

Utility backs Jack Holmes and Danny Rasool have returned ‘home’; Holmes after a season and a bit at Rochdale and Rasool after a loan spell at Workington Town from Warrington Wolves. He was at Whitebank as a teenager in a reserve side coached by Phil Costin.

The other newcomers are forwards — Luke Nelmes, a big prop from Halifax, Adam Jones, a rangy back-rower from Swinton Lions and Oldhamer Danny Bridge, who is already forming a lethal-looking left-edge attack with Reid.

He made a name for himself in two years at Rochdale, followed by a similar period playing for Redcliffe Dolphins in the Queensland Cup, a tough and highly-rated competition which is generally regarded as one tier down from the NRL.

At 20 years and four months, the energetic Bent is the youngest member of the squad , followed by two 21-year-olds in Eccleston and hooker Matty Wilkinson, who gave an impressive performance in the Barrow mudbath.

Of the seven squad members who didn’t play at Craven Park, Eccleston, Holmes and Steve Nield are expected to be back on Sunday.

Bent and Gareth Owen are ruled out by injury, while Danny Langtree (illness) and Ben Davies, who has a problem with his back, are doubtful.

Kenny Hughes, who had an operation on a finger on Monday, will also be absent, leaving Wilkinson with plenty of work to do from dummy half, while Owen and Hughes look on.

Of the 21 contracted players, three are definitely ruled out by injury and two more might join them, thus giving coach Scott Naylor plenty of scope and flexibility with which to dovetail his five trialists into the mix, as he did at Barrow.

Admission prices: £10 adults, £6 concessions, £2 under-16s with a £2 across-the-board upgrade for a seat in the stand.

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Club Cash

AS you all know from your own experiences these are tough times for everybody, but we believe you will agree that OLDHAM RLFC is taking massive inspiration from the fabulous NHS and other key workers in tackling Covid head-on, while looking forward positively to the 2021 season and better times ahead thanks to the outstanding work now being done to get people vaccinated as quickly as possible.

Nevertheless, we have to face facts and be realistic enough to accept that the club urgently needs every pound that is currently coming in from whatever source. One of those sources is our Club Cash lottery and we would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who support us on this. A lot of you who used to pay our collectors on the doorstep have responded to our suggestions on how to pay by different methods and we are extremely grateful for that. Thanks again. You will never know how much difference your contributions make.

Alas, our income from the lottery has dropped by more than 50 per cent over the course of the pandemic and that would be a huge blow financially at any time let alone a time of unprecedented hardship because of the pandemic. It really is a situation we seriously need to address.

With that in mind the prize fund for the duration of the latest national lockdown will be temporarily reduced from February 10.

You will still be able to win a £1,000 first prize, plus £100, £50, £25 and ten £10 prizes every week, while continuing to provide vital support for the club and it will only cost you £1 a week. You can’t get a decent coffee for that, but the difference it makes to the club when multiplied a few times over and then multiplied again by 52 – the number of weeks in the financial year – is of major significance.

If you can help us at all — for £1 a week — it would be hugely appreciated by everyone with Oldham RL Club at heart. The prize structure still represents good value for money for an outlay of £1.

To those who are already members and help us accordingly, we very much hope to retain your support at this extremely difficult time.

Should you wish to play but don’t, due to the pausing of cash collection rounds, we have other options available, which you can discuss with our lottery administrator, John McAndrew on 07980129541 or from the club on 07904 898177.

Alternatively, you can send an email to: mcandrewj@aol.com or to: enquiries@roughyeds.co.uk

The prize fund will be increased back to previous levels as soon as latest lockdowns are released. Please watch our website and social media platforms for further announcements.

Finally, if you want more information about the lottery or you wish to discuss your membership please contact one of the numbers given above.

A huge thank-you to you all.

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