SCOTT Naylor, who is half-way through a current two-year deal, will soon be starting out on his seventh season as Oldham RLFC head coach.
He is the club’s longest-serving team boss since Oldham RLFC (1997) Ltd was launched 21 seasons ago.
Since his arrival at what was then known as Whitebank in the autumn of 2012, succeeding New Zealander Tony Benson, he has witnessed highs and lows, including two losing Grand Finals in tier three, promotion to the Championship in 2015 and relegation with an injury-ravaged squad in 2017 after two seasons in tier two.
The 2014 Grand Final against Hunslet at Headingley went down to a heart-breaking golden-point drop goal in extra time.
However, Naylor’s men were finally rewarded for their tier-three consistency 12 months later when they finished top of League 1 with 19 wins from 22 games and then beat second-placed Keighley Cougars 31-20 in a Promotion Final at Whitebank watched by a ground-record crowd of 1,405.
They stayed in the Championship in 2016 but then suffered a horrendous run of injuries in 2017 which ended in relegation back to League 1 for 2018.
In the season just ended they scraped into the play-offs in fifth place on the last weekend of the regular season only to suffer their heaviest defeat of the year, 47-0, in a disappointing finale at Bradford Bulls.
Naylor must now start all over again in a smaller, 12-club League 1 in 2019 which will comprise six heartland clubs in Oldham, Doncaster, Workington Town or Swinton Lions, Whitehaven, Hunslet and Keighley.
They will be joined by Newcastle Thunder, tipped to be a force next year, North Wales Crusaders, Coventry Bears, London Skolars, Hemel Stags and West Wales Raiders.
Immediately after the play-off defeat at Bradford, Scott said:
“We need to improve on all fronts so that come the end of next season we are not in this situation again.”
He has since intimated that, even in League 1, Roughyeds have to punch above their weight financially.
He told the trade paper League Express:
“I’m not complaining. I accept the reality of our situation and I am fully committed to using whatever budget we have to try and get back into the Championship.
“It’s just important that people see where we are as a club and understand that to gain promotion we have to punch well above our weight.
“I’m getting ready for my seventh season as coach (at Oldham), but I’m learning all the time and there were a lot of lessons to come out of this year.”
The RFL’s latest match review panel has concluded that the sin-bin was sufficient punishment for the three players who got yellow cards at Odsal, namely Oldham’s Lee Kershaw and Gareth Owen and Bradford’s Ross Peltier.