ROUGHYEDS have added to their volunteer managerial team with the appointment of Ben Whisker (37) as business development manager.
He works full time on recruitment in the IT industry, but as a rugby league fan, a former amateur player in York, a qualified level 1 coach and with a dog he’s called Ellery (after you know who), he’s steeped in our sport and delighted to give up much of his spare time to work for the Oldham club.
He will operate alongside Anne Kearns (admin and office manager), Julie Collins (marketing), John McAndrew (Club Cash lottery administrator) and the media team comprising of Roger Halstead, Dave Murgatroyd and Dave Naylor, all working under the wing of chairman, chief executive and club owner Chris Hamilton.
Ben will work closely with Julie with the specific role of leading the initiative to forge closer links with local community clubs, the community generally and with Oldham Athletic, his overall purpose being to develop the Roughyeds’ business.
His addition to the team was announced after an interview process in which he met for talks with Chris, Julie and Anne.
Born in Doncaster, he lived most of his life in York until moving to the Manchester area with his wife Jenny and four-year-old daughter Elizabeth last summer.
Both he and Jenny have family connections with the Oldham area.
Ben’s grandfather, Eric Skelton, grew up in Springhead; his great grandfather lived in Adlington Street, Oldham; and two uncles, Peter and Stephen, were programme sellers at Watersheddings in the late fifties, early sixties.
Jenny comes from Ireland, but her father’s company, Spencers, owned mills in Oldham, making denim, in the days when it was known as the town of a hundred chimneys.
“I’m a proud Yorkshireman,” said Ben, “but I’m sure the rugby league community of Oldham won’t hold that against me.
“I played for Heworth and for York Wasps Academy in my younger days, I’m a level 1 coach and I’ve done a lot of ‘coaching’, if that’s the right word, of three-to-five year olds so I’m no stranger to community clubs and their youth sections.
“I fell in love with the game watching the 1988 Challenge Cup final between Wigan and Halifax. Ellery Hanley was my boyhood hero.
“I had hoped to progress as a player, but I had to pack in because of illness and since then I’ve been a real fan.
“Living in York, and supporting that club, I’ve seen what can be done in the way of commercial activity, marketing and development etc and I see absolutely no reason why we can’t do something similar in a town like Oldham.
“Since coming to live and work in Manchester, I was looking for a club in this area to get involved with and I’m delighted and thrilled to join up with Oldham.”
“Welcome aboard Ben ! Together, we’ve a lot of work to do as the team that operates off the field so 2019 is going to be a big year.
“We’re all volunteers, doing what we can in our spare time, but the beauty of that is that we are doing it as a labour of love because we love the club and we love rugby league.”