THE focus was on Danny Langtree, Liam Bent and Anne Kearns at a great Oldham RLFC Awards Night at the Vestacare Stadium.
Nearly 130 people, comprising of fans, sponsors, coaching and backroom staff, players and their guests, enjoyed a convivial evening which Dave Murgatroyd held together in doing a great job as MC.
‘Langers’ won three of the five individual awards and he and Kenny Hughes, both of whom have now left the club after eight years of service, were also presented with their framed playing jerseys by BBC Radio Manchester’s Jack Dearden.
“It’s the Danny Langtree show” quipped head coach Scott Naylor in presenting the Hull FC-bound forward with his head coach’s player-of-the-year trophy, sponsored by Regenda.
‘Langers’ had already walked away with the Players’ player-of-the-year award, sponsored by the Past Players’ Association and presented jointly by Ray Hicks and club captain Gareth Owen, and he was also to land a Club-man of the Year trophy, sponsored by Fit4Sport and presented on stage by that company’s Trish Meats.
All players who were leaving the club (it was announced that both Adam Neal and Craig Briscoe were retiring and it emerged later that Adam Jones was going back to Swinton Lions) were sent off with the club’s thanks for past services and warm wishes for the future.
Tackling-machine Liam Bent, youngest player at the club and described by MC ‘Murgy’ as “the most polite player in rugby league”, won the Supporters’ player-of-the-year award which was sponsored by ORSA and presented by its chairman, John McAndrew.
Bernard Halford, secretary of the Past Players, went on stage to present Anne Kearns with a sponsorship cheque for the club, pointing out that Past Players also sponsor an Oldham-born player in Phil Joy.
Unknown to Anne at that stage, she was to be in the spotlight herself a few minutes later when it was announced by Murgy that she had won the Unsung Hero trophy.
That trophy, as well as the Club-man of the year prize, were decided by club chairman Chris Hamilton, who had major heart surgery earlier in the year.
He was unable to be present on the night but he sent in the names of his respective winners, Danny Langtree (club-man) and Anne Kearns (unsung hero) in separate sealed envelopes which were opened on stage.
Anne has been, and still is, running the club on a day-to-day basis since Chris had his major surgery.
In a written tribute to ‘Langers’ he said the player had given wonderful service across eight years and on numerous occasions had rejected Championship offers to remain loyal to the club which had given him his big chance.
Even now he didn’t want to leave, but both he and the Oldham club felt the opportunity to sign for a Betfred Super League club, Hull FC, was one he couldn’t turn down.
As for Anne, the chairman made a moving tribute to her for the way she had accepted his invitation to step into the breach.
In expressing his heartfelt thanks, he said he didn’t know what the club would have done without her and without her willingness to take on the running of its day-to-day matters and, even more importantly, the responsibility for its smooth operation.
She was later presented with a bunch of flowers by John McAndrew on behalf of everyone at the club.
Earlier, Scott Naylor paid his own tribute to her, saying: “To do what Anne has done is unbelievable. Rugby League is a tough sport to be in and she has stepped in and run the place.”
He also thanked his No 2, Pete Carey; the backroom and medical staff; the ‘first-class’ people of ORSA (the club’s Supporters Association); and the club’s ‘amazing’ supporters.
He told the fans:
“What you do is amazing and the lengths you go to in order to support us on long away trips is unbelievable. The lads appreciate that more than you would ever know.”
Among those present were mascot Roary, who took part in the Roughyeds’ version of a Question of Sport with fans, players Gareth Owen and Steve Nield, and two of the three representatives from Oldham Community Radio, Dave McGealy and Gerald Brierley.
Also in attendance were Ian Wilson, heading the representation from Oldham Supporters Trust; Mike Turner (Oldham RLFC Heritage Trust); and Bernard Halford and Ray Hicks from the Past Players.
Among the evening’s highlights was film of last season’s best moments, prepared and compiled by the media department’s website and social media guru Dave Naylor.
ringing down the curtain on a fabulous evening, in which fans, sponsors and players came together as one, an emotional Anne said she had merely done what any friend would do — help out when help was needed.
“I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way but I’ve had the help and assistance of a lot of people, and I couldn’t possibly have done the job without them.
“You know who you are; a heartfelt thank-you to you all.”