HUGELY encouraged by the goodwill and positive outlook of last night’s fans’ forum, Roughyeds plan to have a follow-up get-together with supporters in about three months time.
“Now we’ve started this initiative it is important we keep it going,” said Julie Collins of Purpose Marketing, a a keen Oldham fan who has offered her professional expertise and know-how, as a volunteer, to spearhead the club’s marketing and community programmes in the months and years ahead.
Forty-four supporters, including representatives of Rugby Oldham Supporters Trust and the Oldham RL Heritage Trust, met at the Vestacare Stadium to listen to the club’s essential and extensive development plans for 2019 and beyond.
Head coach Scott Naylor left pre-season training in the capable hands of his assistants Pete Carey and Paul Crook and strength and conditioning coach Adam Neal, to spend half an hour giving fans an insight into what was happening at dressing room level and then to answer questions from the floor.
Also available to be questioned by supporters and to listen to the many and varied ideas put forward from the floor were Julie Collins; office manager Anne Kearns; lottery administrator John McAndrew; media manager Roger Halstead; and two other members of the media team in social media and website expert Dave Naylor and official club photographer Dave Murgatroyd.
Helping to run the event, and themselves taking part, were Oldham Community Radio’s well-known double act of station manager Dave McGealy and presenter Gerald Brierley.
It was noted more than once that OCR do a sterling job in keeping listeners informed of Roughyeds’ news and views, usually during their ‘Today in Oldham’ programme which runs from 10am to noon Monday to Friday and is repeated each evening between 5pm and 7pm.
After bringing an excellent three-hour forum to a close, Julie told the media team:
“Everyone seemed to enjoy it. We’re all fans together and it’s by working together that we can take our club to where it needs to be.
“One of the objectives was to give supporters a taste of what’s going on behind the scenes. Another was to get some feedback from the floor and we got what we wanted — loads of it.
“As a club, the challenge for us now is to look at all the ideas and suggestions; examine them in detail; and implement some of them as we try to take the club forward.
“With that in mind we need to have another event like this in three months and maybe keep it running after that on a regular basis.”
One of the early questions from the floor concerned the health and well-being of club chairman Chris Hamilton, who had massive heart surgery earlier in the year.
Roger explained that it was a bigger operation than was originally envisaged.
His long period of recuperation was going well and for the first time in his life he had finally accepted that he had no option but to take strict orders from his post-op care team and avoid all unnecessary stress and tension for the time being.
Despite that, he was still beavering away behind the scenes on such essential duties as liaising closely with Scott on the signing of players for next season (21 so far) and having meetings with player agents and dealings with the RFL etc.
Fans were asked to write down their ideas and suggestions and to leave them on the tables for collection later.
They were many, ranging from greater engagement with local schools and community clubs to making far greater use of ‘the best club mascot in the game’, Roary, to reforming a junior supporters’ club to letting in under-16s free with an adult.
There will be more of those, and in more detail, plus what Julie said in her very professional presentation in a a series of website articles over the next few days.