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Johnny Whiteley to present the inaugural 1895 Cup

Hull rugby league legend Johnny Whiteley MBE will present the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup at Wembley Stadium on Saturday evening to the winners of the first final of the new tournament for non-Super League clubs.

The final, between 1998 Challenge Cup winners Sheffield Eagles and former Wembley regulars Widnes Vikings, will follow the Coral Challenge Cup Final between St Helens and Warrington Wolves.

Whiteley is one of the most revered and popular figures in the game, as a member of the last Great Britain team to earn an Ashes series victory over Australia on home soil in 1959, and the coach of the last Lions team to win an Ashes series in Australia in 1970.

He was one of three greats inducted into the Rugby League Hall of Fame last November – and will be joined in the Royal Box at Wembley by another of those three, Andy Gregory.

There will be more former players than ever at this year’s traditional Rugby League showpiece, as the Rugby Football League celebrates the return of the Great Britain team this autumn, and also the great history and heritage of the Challenge Cup.

All members of the Great Britain Rugby League Lions Association were invited to attend, as were all former Challenge Cup Finalists, for the first Cup Final Reunion.

More than 100 players have taken up that offer, while Whiteley and Gregory will be joined in the Royal Box by representatives of former Challenge Cup Finals – including Martin Offiah, scorer of one of the greatest Wembley tries for Wigan and a member of the London Broncos team beaten by Leeds Rhinos in the 1999 Challenge Cup Final; Ellery Hanley MBE, who won the Lance Todd Trophy as man of the match in Wigan’s 1989 Cup Final victory over St Helens; and Malcolm Reilly OBE, who was the Lance Todd winner in Castleford’s Wembley triumph over Salford 20 years earlier.

Ray French MBE will join Whiteley in the Royal Box and in the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup presentation party, after members of the RFL’s Our League app voted to name the player of the match award for the new competition in honour of the former St Helens, Widnes and Great Britain forward who went on to commentate on so many Wembley finals for the BBC.

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AS you all know from your own experiences these are tough times for everybody, but we believe you will agree that OLDHAM RLFC is taking massive inspiration from the fabulous NHS and other key workers in tackling Covid head-on, while looking forward positively to the 2021 season and better times ahead thanks to the outstanding work now being done to get people vaccinated as quickly as possible.

Nevertheless, we have to face facts and be realistic enough to accept that the club urgently needs every pound that is currently coming in from whatever source. One of those sources is our Club Cash lottery and we would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who support us on this. A lot of you who used to pay our collectors on the doorstep have responded to our suggestions on how to pay by different methods and we are extremely grateful for that. Thanks again. You will never know how much difference your contributions make.

Alas, our income from the lottery has dropped by more than 50 per cent over the course of the pandemic and that would be a huge blow financially at any time let alone a time of unprecedented hardship because of the pandemic. It really is a situation we seriously need to address.

With that in mind the prize fund for the duration of the latest national lockdown will be temporarily reduced from February 10.

You will still be able to win a £1,000 first prize, plus £100, £50, £25 and ten £10 prizes every week, while continuing to provide vital support for the club and it will only cost you £1 a week. You can’t get a decent coffee for that, but the difference it makes to the club when multiplied a few times over and then multiplied again by 52 – the number of weeks in the financial year – is of major significance.

If you can help us at all — for £1 a week — it would be hugely appreciated by everyone with Oldham RL Club at heart. The prize structure still represents good value for money for an outlay of £1.

To those who are already members and help us accordingly, we very much hope to retain your support at this extremely difficult time.

Should you wish to play but don’t, due to the pausing of cash collection rounds, we have other options available, which you can discuss with our lottery administrator, John McAndrew on 07980129541 or from the club on 07904 898177.

Alternatively, you can send an email to: mcandrewj@aol.com or to: enquiries@roughyeds.co.uk

The prize fund will be increased back to previous levels as soon as latest lockdowns are released. Please watch our website and social media platforms for further announcements.

Finally, if you want more information about the lottery or you wish to discuss your membership please contact one of the numbers given above.

A huge thank-you to you all.

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