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New boys to be unveiled in Law Cup

OLDHAM fans will get their first glimpse of many new signings in Sunday’s Law Cup clash with derby rivals Rochdale Hornets at the Crown Oil Arena (3pm kick-off).

The new-look squad currently numbers 21, ten of whom have been snapped up during the off-season to replace those who left the club at the end of the 2017 campaign which resulted in relegation back to League 1 after two seasons in the Kingstone Press Championship.

That meant a hugely significant decrease in central funding, but it hasn’t stopped chairman Chris Hamilton, who commands the purse strings, and head coach Scott Naylor, who sets his player targets, getting their heads together to come up with a squad they believe will be strong enough to mount a realistic challenge for promotion at the first attempt.

New boys are forwards Luke Nelmes, from Halifax, Adam Jones (Swinton), Liam Bent (Salford) and Danny Bridge (Redcliffe Dolphins, Australia) and backs Paul Crook (Rochdale), Danny Rasool (Warrington), Kyran Johnson (Feathersstone), Dave Ecclerston (St Helens), Matt Reid (Coventry) and Jack Holmes (Rochdale).

Roughyeds believe they will be particularly strong in the forwards — and they expect the pack to lay down a solid foundation for success and provide the momentum and go-forward that the experienced Crook will need to direct operations from stand-off half.

Sunday’s Law Cup showdown will be a nostalgic occasion for Crook, but he will be only one of several players on both sides who will go head to head with former team mates.

There will be three in Oldham’s expected line-up —- half-back Crook, second-row forward Bridge and utility back Holmes, who has obtained a return ticket to the Vestacare Stadium after a season and a bit at Rochdale.

Bridge, Oldham-born, made a big impression at Rochdale two or three years ago, doing enough to earn a contract with Queensland Cup side Redcliffe Dolphins in Australia in 2016 and 2017.

The six former Roughyeds in a provisional Rochdale squad are Lewis Palfrey, Miles Greenwood, David Allen, Luke Adamson, Richard Lepori and Gary Middlehurst.

Comparisons between Palfrey and Crook will be inevitable, given that the former –a promotion-winning Oldham captain and skipper for four years —- replaced Crook in the Rochdale side of 2017 .

Crook was away from the local derby scene last year, playing instead for Whitehaven, but Palfrey was a mainstay half-back for Rochdale and looks like retaining his partnership with Danny Yates in the coming Championship campaign.

Lepori, like Palfrey, was a popular and regular first-team man at Oldham; unlike Palfrey, he played under Naylor’s tutelage as recently as last season.

While Rochdale fans will feel it odd to be watching Crook in Oldham colours, they will be no more mesmerised than will Oldham supporters looking at ‘Lippy’ in red, white and blue.

It points to an intriguing mates v mates Law Cup clash which, from Oldham’s angle, will give supporters at least some chance of evaluating prospects for the upcoming League 1 campaign.

HORNETS (from): Greenwood, Kay, Hurst, Galbraith, Massam, Palfrey, Yates, Taira, Moores, Hadden, Allen, T Adamson, L Adamson, Maneeley, Hatton, Hema, Brickhill, Mitchell, Turner, Lepori, Gaskell, Middlehurst, Gregory, Mulkeen, Reardon.

OLDHAM (from): Johnson, Eccleston, Rasool, Reid, Nield, Holmes, Crook, Hewitt, Joy, Hughes, Wilkinson, Owen, Neal, Bridge, Langtree, Spencer, Jones, Davies, Briscoe, Bent, Nelmes.

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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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