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Gaz Owen keeps the captaincy

MOORSIDE-BORN Gareth Owen will continue to captain OLDHAM RLFC under the tutelage of new head coach Matt Diskin.

Hooker Owen (27), who never misses an opportunity to say how proud he is to skipper his home-town club, will be captain for the fourth season in a row when newly-promoted Roughyeds start their Championship campaign against Widnes Vikings at Bower Fold on Sunday, February 2.

It was an obvious choice,” said Diskin, who spent nearly a decade as a hooker — a job that demands key, tactical decision-making — in a classy Leeds Rhinos side.

In his two months in charge of pre-season training, Diskin has learned a lot about his players and he is in no doubt about Owen’s qualities as a player and as a man and about his credentials for the responsibility of on-field leader.

Said the Roughyeds’ new team boss:

“In the time I’ve spent with the group I’ve seen not only his leadership skills, but also the huge respect in which he is held by the other lads.

“He’s chuffed to keep the job and I know how much it means to him.”

Owen, who still lives in Moorside, succeeded Lewis Palfrey as captain when Palfrey transferred to Rochdale Hornets after leading Roughyeds to promotion in 2015 and then overseeing their first season in the Championship in 2016.

Owen’s first season as skipper, 2017, was a difficult one for him and for the club.

Scott Leatherbarrow came in to replace the influential Palfrey at outside-half, but both Leatherbarrow and Owen had big shoes to fill at a much higher level than in the previous season.

To make things even more difficult, the squad was ravaged by injury after a reasonable start in the first two months.

Owen himself suffered a freak foot injury in a rearranged 20-16 midweek defeat by Dewsbury at Bower Fold on June 21 and he didn’t play again all season.

In the same match, full-back Scott Turner suffered the last of several concussion injuries and after much soul-searching he took the decision to hang up his boots.
Danny Langtree also suffered a knock that kept him out for several weeks.

In total Roughyeds used 39 players over the 32-match season and players like Owen (11 starts plus seven on the bench), Turner (14 appearances), Richard Lepori (15), Langtree (23), Liam Thompson (20) and George Tyson (22) were all hit by serious setbacks.

Relegation inevitably followed and although it was a bitter disappointment for Owen in his first year as captain, he learned a lot.

He has since grown into the captaincy and was thrilled to lead Roughyeds up to the Championship again after two seasons back down in League 1.

At the higher level he will be determined to put the record straight after what happened in 2017 and Diskin is sure he’s the man to lead from the front.

He hasn’t yet appointed a vice-captain.

“There are a few leaders in the squad , but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,”

said Diskin.

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Club Cash

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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