First up is a big test at Barrow

OLDHAM’S pre-season programme starts at Barrow on Sunday, January 13 (kick-off 3pm).

As many as eight new signings, including Danny Grimshaw, who’s back after a season away, could make Roughyeds debuts.

The others are Richie Hawkyard, Aaron Jones-Bishop and Anthony Bowman (backs) plus Scott Law, Jamie Greenwood, Ben Calland and Emmerson Whittel (forwards).

When the team coach pulls into Craven Park it will be met by the Rev Tony Ford, who was club chaplain for several years until his ministry in the Church of England took him to Barrow last summer.

He has now accepted a chaplaincy role with the Raiders.

Said Roughyeds coach Scott Naylor:

“Oldham’s loss is Barrow’s gain. They’re very lucky to have him. He will be sadly missed by us all.

“He was always there to listen if anybody at the club needed somebody to talk to.

“It will be a challenge for him up there, but I know he’ll do a fantastic job at his new church and at the Barrow club.”

Tony, his wife Denise and daughter Nicola were guests of the club at the Awards Night a few weeks ago.

With so many new players on board, Scott will regard this opening fixture as a bonding session as much as anything else.

He said:

“We’ve played this one as a warm-up game for the past three or four years and it’s always a challenge because of the travel, the Cumbrian weather in January and the quality of the opposition.

“I like it for those three reasons alone, although we hope its a lot better weather-wise than last year when it was absolutely horrendous.

“To be honest it was difficult to play any sort of rugby, but it might be a lot better this time.

“It’s always an extremely tough game up there and this one will be no exception.

“Last year Barrow won promotion and stayed up. Paul Crarey (coach) did a fantastic job for which he deserves a commendation. I know how difficult it is to go up and stay up.

“The weather and the pitch have been our biggest challenges in the last two years but with a bit of luck we’ll get a drier spell this time over Christmas and into the New Year.

“Hopefully, we’ll kick-start 2019 with a win, but win, lose or draw we’ll have a beer and a few laughs on the way back and enjoy some team bonding that will hopefully stand us in good stead further down the line.”

ORSA Quiz and Season Tickets

Don’t forget it’s the ORSA Quiz event in the Vestacare club tonight (8pm), while tomorrow (Friday) the office will be open from 10am to 3pm for the sale of season tickets.



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