OF the many suggestions made by fans for ways of carrying the club forward into 2019 and beyond, the biggest debate centred on how best to increase attendances and to win back the support of the ‘missing generation’.
Concern was also expressed from the floor at the recent public meeting that falling attendances carried another worrying feature — the average age of regular Roughyeds supporters which was probably between 55 and 60.
It was generally agreed that dips in gate numbers were not peculiar to Oldham, although there was a lot Roughyeds could do themselves to halt the slide initially and to gradually turn it round.
There was overwhelming support for the suggestion that, first and foremost, strenuous efforts must be made to attract younger supporters.
Opinion was divided as to whether under-16s should be allowed to watch home games free of charge or whether they had to be accompanied by an adult.
There was widespread approval, however, for the proposal that the club already possessed an obvious and tailor-made personality to spearhead the recruitment drive for children — club mascot Roary.
The floor strongly backed the suggestion that popular and loveable Roary should be ‘used’ far more widely in promoting the club and that he should be key to the formation of a junior supporters club to be known as ‘Roary’s Pride’.
One fan said:
“We used to have loads of kids around the place, but we don’t any more. They’re the missing generation. We need to win them back.”
Greater engagement with schools and community clubs was also called for with Roary to the fore and back-up provided by Roughyeds players, especially Oldham-based players who were themselves the product of local community clubs.
Roger Halstead said it was a myth that clubs like St Anne’s, Saddleworth and Waterhead wanted to distance themselves from the town’s semi-pro club, but the lead for closer associations had to come from Roughyeds.
Other suggestions for raising the club’s profile and increasing its income ranged from having more social events and the odd sportsmen’s dinner; to forming closer links with Avro FC supporters; to requesting coach and players to spend a short time with fans in the social club after matches.
Fans who went on the club’s trip to Wembley last August for the Challenge Cup final said it was a fabulous trip.
One of them suggested it would be worthwhile to see if supporters would wish to travel to away games together by coach, thus making money for the club and enjoying the company and camaraderie or fellow fans.
From the club’s point of view fans were urged to buy season tickets, join the Club Cash lottery, encourage a friend to attend matches, join a new membership scheme, join in the club’s social media activity and talk-up Roughyeds to friends, neighbours, relatives and work mates.
Julie said that from her perspective as a marketing professional, it was imperative that the club branded itself correctly, settled on a logo and stuck to it.
There followed a long discussion on use of the town’s crest which fans clearly didn’t want to lose.
One fan though suggested there could be two club logos, a traditional one incorporating the crest and another one of a more modern design.