BY signing new two-year contracts to stay at Oldham until the end of the 2022 season, forwards Danny Langtree and Phil Joy have every chance of reaching the 200-game milestone and thus joining the club’s legends since it was reformed in 1997.
Before the original Oldham club was liquidated, individual season-governed contracts were rare. Players effectively signed for life and those who committed while still in their teens would often notch-up many more games than 200.
How times change! In the modern game players usually sign one or two-year deals, become free agents when they expire and often move on to the highest bidder, writes ROGER HALSTEAD.
Compared with many other clubs, Roughyeds can hold their heads high for keeping hold of good players in these circumstances.
Langtree and Joy, for instance, will each have completed 12 years at the club by the end of the 2022 season; the first two in the reserves and then ten in the first team.
Prop-forward Joy was recently described by coach Matt Diskin as “a corner-stone of the club,” and he could easily have placed Langtree on the same pedestal.
Only one thing separates them. While hometown boy Joy is a one-club man, and will thus qualify for a testimonial if he completes the next two years at senior level, ‘Langers’ had a brief stay at Super League club Hull FC in 2019.
While on the East Coast, he missed the first seven games of the Roughyeds’ promotion campaign of 2019, but he couldn’t get back soon enough and full marks to Hull for recognising his discomfort over there and agreeing to cancel his two-year, full-time contract.
It must be something in the Oldham air — either that, or Roughyeds know how to look after their own.
Joy and Langtree, of course, are not the first players to spend most of their careers under the banner of Oldham RLFC (1997) Ltd. Remember Neil Roden, John Hough, Jason Boults?
Stand-off Roden, a true Roughyeds legend, played in an astonishing 295 games, scoring 113 tries and kicking 25 drop goals for 477 points. Apart from one season at Batley — he was another who was delighted to get back ‘home’ as soon as he coul — this son of a Wigan Warriors talent scout was at Oldham for the first 13 years of this century.
Hooker Hough, who has the distinction of being the first player to be signed by the ‘new’ Oldham club in the autumn of 1997, played in 228 games and then, when his playing days were over, stayed on at the club as reserve-team coach.
In terms of length of service and number of games played, third in line for ‘legendary’ status was Yorkshireman Boults, a totally reliable, honest, loyal and 100 per cent committed front-rower, who hit 193 appearances and, like Roden and Hough, was a model of consistency.
If Langtree (172 appearances) and/or Joy (160) are to hit the 200 in the next two years they will need to be relatively injury-free in 2021 and 2022 and soar past the Boults total to settle in behind Roden, whose 295 is unlikely ever to be beaten, and Hough.
Joy would no doubt have been in touching distance of the Boults total already had it not been for his serious shoulder injury which caused him to miss nearly all of the 2017 Championship season, followed by this season’s Covid lockdown.
His current overall record is 27 tries in 160 games — excellent for a prop — while second-row man Langtree boasts 89 tries in 172 appearances. How good is that?
On returning from Hull, he scored 18 tries in 18 games to play arguably the biggest individual role in the Roughyeds’ surge to a second-place finish and ultimately to promotion via the play-offs.
Now aged 29, he made his senior debut in a 28-18 home win over Workington Town on August 19, 2012. He was 21. After completing his latest deal, Langtree said:
“I’ve always been happy at Oldham — always. When this new deal expires, I’ll have completed 12 years at Oldham. I couldn’t have been at a better club.
“A few others spoke to me but I told them all the same; that I left Oldham once before and I was never really happy after doing it. I had no intention of doing it again.”
Joy, also 29, spoke similarly a few weeks later when he also put pen to paper on a new two-year deal.
“In this day and age it will be a huge achievement to get a testimonial and I will be especially pleased to get it with my home-town club. I never wanted to play for anybody else.”
Throw in the club’s reputation for loyalty to its coaches with the stability that it inevitably brings (Scott Naylor was in charge for seven years before Matt Diskin succeeded him a year ago), and the Roughyeds clearly have something going for them.
Most games: Neil Roden 295, John Hough 228, Jason Boults 193, Danny Langtree 172, Phil Joy 160, Michael Ward 155, Jason Clegg 148. Gareth Barber 138, Gareth Owen 137.
Most tries: Roden 113, Langtree 89, Lucas Onyango 73, Gavin Dodd 60, Gareth Barber 53, John Hough 53, Paul O’Connor 53.
Most goals: Lewis Palfrey 350, Pat Rich 303, Paul Crook 191, Gareth Barber 155, Mick Nanyn 139, Simon Svabic 116, Andy Ballard 93, Jamie Dallimore 91, Marty Turner 84, Matty Ashe 83, Dave Hewitt 83.
Most points: Palfrey 791, Rich 682, Barber 523, Roden 477, Crook 426, Nanyn 362, Langtree 356, Svabic 316, Hewitt 304, Onyango 292, Ballard 254, Dallimore 243, Dodd 241, O’Connor 228.