MISSION ACCOMPLISHED . . . and I leave with head held high.
That was the gist of Scott Naylor’s farewell message to Oldham RL fans after he saw Roughyeds promoted back to the Betfred Championship with an 18-14 win against Newcastle Thunder.
It was Naylor’s last game in charge as head coach after seven action-packed years which have included two Grand Final defeats, two promotions (2015 and 2019) and one relegation from the Championship in 2017.
As last Sunday’s celebrations went on long into the night, Naylor revealed: “I was partially responsible for the 2017 relegation due to some of the decisions I made, but now I feel I’ve redeemed myself a bit.
“Seven years is a long time. I came in the autumn of 2012 to make a difference and I think I did okay. I’ve loved it here.”
Said Oldham chairman Chris Hamilton:
“When it first emerged a few weeks ago that Scott would leave at the end of the season I feared it might have an adverse affect on team performances but he assured me it wouldn’t and he was proved right.
“He will always be welcome here and we wish him well in whatever he is going to do next.”
Naylor was given the job after a 2012 third-tier season in which Oldham finished sixth out of 10 with only seven wins from 18 games and with only London Skolars, the two Welsh clubs and Gateshead Thunder beneath them.
Next season they will be going head to head with teams such as Toulouse, Leigh, Featherstone, Bradford, Sheffield, Halifax and Widnes.
The departing Oldham boss added: “I wanted to see the club back in the Championship before I left and in achieving that the players and my backroom staff have done me proud.
“When I first came Phil Joy couldn’t catch a ball but, talking seriously, he is now one of the best props in the division.
“A few clubs, including Newcastle, spend a lot more than Oldham but it was a big thing for us when we got Danny Langtree back from Hull and we’ve shown what can be achieved by sticking together as a group, working hard and believing collectively in what we are doing.
“It was important to me to get the club back in the Championship before I left but this is a time when everyone associated with the club can feel proud.
“The players, in particular, can walk tall because it was tough playing for me. I demanded a style of play which was tough physically but also tough mentally.
“It wasn’t about free-flowing football; more about a tough brand of rugby based on 100 per cent effort in defence particularly — not fancy stuff but rugby that can be very effective if its done right. They did it right,
“The players have been great for seven years, not just this year. They’ve always given me 100 per cent.”