ROGER HALSTEAD continues his new series in which he is talking to players, fans and staff members to provide supporters with an insight into people whose lives have been touched by Oldham RLFC.
In his second feature he talks to SCOTT NAYLOR who is in his seventh season as head coach of Roughyeds and is one of the longest-serving coaches in the game.
WHATEVER Scott Naylor achieves, or doesn’t achieve, in his coaching career he will be forever remembered in Rugby League as a member of that fabulous Bradford Bulls side that played in numerous Super League Grand Finals and Challenge Cup finals in the early years of this century.
Scott, a strong centre, played in three of each.
He was a winner on one of his three “special” nights at Old Trafford and twice victorious in Challenge Cup finals, first at Murrayfield in 2000 and then at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff in 2003.
His other Challenge Cup final appearance was at Twickenham in 2001 so he never did play at Wembley, a similar disappointment to that of generations of Oldhamers who have never had the opportunity to watch their team in the national stadium.
Realists will accept that in the foreseeable future a Challenge Cup final appearance will be out of reach for most clubs outside Super League, but the new 1895 Cup, to be contested this season for the first time, could be a different proposition.
Over to you, Scott and the boys !
Now aged 47, the Roughyeds boss doesn’t talk easily about his sporting achievements in the Bulls glory days (preferring instead to keep them in his memory bank and those of his wife Claire and daughters Megan and Anna), but it was a career he can look back on with immense pride and personal satisfaction.
At Odsal he was surrounded by big-money signings from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, but the lad from Leigh was an automatic centre choice and one of the first names on the team sheet between 1999 and 2003 when he represented the Bulls at Super League level on 128 occasions and scored more than 50 tries.
As well as three Grand Finals at Old Trafford and those Challenge Cup finals in Edinburgh, London and Cardiff, he played for England against Australia, Fiji, Ireland and New Zealand and also turned out for Bulls in their 2002 World Club Challenge win against NRL Premiers Newcastle.
I’ll wager many of the players he now coaches at the Vestacare Stadium won’t have a clue about the boss’s playing career. Scott certainly won’t have told them. I can promise you that. He’s far more concerned about the development of players currently under his wing than he is about reflecting on what he did in the old days.
I did manage to get out of him instances of his best and worst moments of his playing career.
The best, he said, was the Grand Final of 2001 when Bulls hammered Wigan, his first professional club, 37-6. He didn’t say, but I can tell you, that he completely blotted out his opposite number, Aussie Test star Steve Renouf.
The Bulls back line that night was: Tevita Vaikona, Scott Naylor, Graham Mackay, Leon Pryce.
Bulls, and Scott, were back at Old Trafford a year later against St Helens and it was to produce his worst sporting memory because a late Sean Long drop goal gave Saints a 19-18 win.
Scott was the only Englishman that night in a Bulls three-quarter line that read like this: Tevita Vaikona, Scott Naylor, Brandon Costin, Lesley Vainikola.
There was a similar situation in the Challenge Cup final of 2003 when Bulls beat Leeds 22-20 with this back division: Tevita Vaikona, Scott Naylor, Shontayne Hape, Lesley Vainikola.
The half-backs were Leon Pryce and former Oldham youngster Paul Deacon.
He paused and considered for a moment when I asked who was his toughest opponent before answering ‘Keith Senior’.
His Bradford career over, he returned to his former club Salford where he brought down the curtain on his illustrious playing career and cut his teeth in coaching.
He took his first head coach’s job at Oldham in the autumn of 2012 following the departure of Tony Benson and his short-term ambition is to guide Roughyeds to promotion this year.
Long term ? To see Oldham consolidate in the Betfred Championship.
He still lives in home-town Leigh with Claire and his girls and he loves playing golf, cooking, enjoying Japanese food and supporting Liverpool Football Club.
“You can blame my Dad for that,” he said. “I’ve been supporting them since I was about seven years old.”
And the man he would have most liked to invite to dinner ? Mohammed Ali.
As a player Scott was proud, tough, reliable, guaranteed to give 100 per cent every game, a loyal team mate and a player who would always give his employers value for money.
He didn’t know how to play any other way . . . and those are the self-same qualities he instils in the players who are under his tutelage today.