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All set for the start of a new era

​A LONG, tough Betfred Championship season lies ahead and Oldham’s new head coach Matt Diskin will get his first glimpse of his squad in action at Barrow Raiders on Sunday (2pm kick-off) in a pre-season warm-up match.

Roughyeds have travelled to South Cumbria for this opening pre-season game for the last few years, happy in the knowledge that they’re going to a club and a team that will provide a tough first-game challenge on a trip that will also be good for team bonding on the way back.

Oldham won 24-10 last year when they were in Betfred League 1 and the Raiders were in the Betfred Championship.

The roles are reversed this time, Roughyeds having won promotion to the second tier and Barrow having been relegated with Rochdale Hornets, whom Diskin’s men take on at the Crown Oil Arena for the Law Cup on Sunday week, January 12.

First things first, though, and Barrow will provide a stern challenge. Coach Paul Crarey has said: “We’ll be ready for a brutal contest. Oldham are very physical so we’ll prepare for a tough battle up front and a big test for our middles.”

In a similar retirement decision to that made by Ritchie Hawkyard, former Raiders captain Martin Aspinwall did a U-turn shortly after the start of pre-season training and announced his body could no longer withstand the rigours of professional rugby league.

Hawkyard is one of six players who turned out in the Oldham side that clinched promotion with that mesmerising win against Newcastle Thunder to have left the club since that never-to-be-forgotten day.

‘Titch’, Paul Crook and Scott Law have retired as players; Zack McComb has gone to Sheffield; Emmerson Whittel will be playing in Australia; and Jimmy Becket, who scored the winning try, was on loan from Featherstone and is now back there.

There are lots of new faces, headed by Diskin himself, his No. 2, Brendan Sheridan, and the club’s new strength and conditioning coach Tim Abeyie, a former international sprinter.

The 21-strong squad includes half a dozen newcomers in young backs James Worthington, John Hutchings and Dan Abram from Wigan, St Helens and Rochdale respectively; the more experienced half-back Lewis Charnock; and forwards Jode Sheriffe and Daniel Igbinedion, both from Dewsbury.

To nudge the memory, Worthington (20) has played on loan with Toulouse Olympique, Workington and Rochdale; Hutchings (also 20) has played in the Saints under-19s side for the past three years; Abram (24), son of former Oldham centre Darren Abram, has arrived via St Helens, Barrow, Whitehaven and Rochdale; Charnock started at Saints, spent time on loan with Bradford Bulls and then had three years at Barrow where he built a reputation as a tough, direct half-back.

Sheriffe and Igbinedion come in for Scott Law, now retired and living in Australia, and for Emmerson Whittel, who will be playing in the Perth region of Western Australia.
In addition, three players who were on loan last year are now on contract — Declan Kay, Harry Aaronson and Adam Brook.

Long-term favourites Phil Joy, Gareth Owen, Jack Spencer, Danny Langtree, Danny Bridge, Liam Bent, Matty Wilkinson, Dave Hewitt, Ben Davies and Kyran Johnson will still form the backbone of the side with hooker Owen named as captain for the fourth season in a row.

Even so, there’s a lot of new faces and new ideas in the Roughyeds’ squad of 2020 and in the team behind the team.

It all starts on Sunday . . . a new year, a new decade and a new era for the Roughyeds.

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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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