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Starting off with a Derby — Swinton at home

With the last two weekends in March accommodating the first two rounds of the Betfred Challenge Cup, the 2021 Betfred Championship campaign starts on Good Friday, April 2 and Oldham kick off with a cracker against derby rivals Swinton Lions at Bower Fold, kick-off 3pm.

Depending on first-round Challenge Cup results, there is a possibility that the Lions could entertain Roughyeds at Heywood Road in the cup the previous weekend, but even without that potential tit-bit they don’t come much better for Oldham than a home game against derby rivals on the opening day of a new league season.

Former Oldham favourites Richard Lepori and Will Hope will be looking forward to returning to Bower Fold in the colours of Swinton who, like Matt Diskin’s men, have recruited heavily for this year.

Among their captures are a utility back from New Zealand, Geronimo Doyle, who has represented the Maoris, and one of the biggest names outside Super League in vastly-experienced former Leigh Centurions master-class half-back Martyn Ridyard.

With one eye on Covid, Championship clubs have agreed a 22-game fixture formula with the RFL, which means each team will play nine of the other 13 teams home and away (18 matches) and the other four teams once, making a total of 22 — 11 at home and 11 away.

The teams Oldham play only once are Halifax Panthers and Bradford Bulls (both at Bower Fold) and Batley Bulldogs and York City Knights (both away).

Apart from the Good Friday opener and the trip to the South of France to face Toulouse Olympique on Saturday evening, July 3, all games are scheduled for Sundays with 3pm starts, although the RFL is keen to point out that, even more than usual this year, and for obvious reasons, dates and kick-off times are subject to change.

The actual venue for the game at London Broncos on April 25 has still to be confirmed and the away game with Sheffield Eagles in August will be at the Keepmoat Stadium in Doncaster, where Eagles are playing all their home games this year.

There are blank Sundays on April 11, June 6 and July 18, but that’s because those weekends are allocated to the Challenge Cup with the final at Wembley on Saturday, July 17 in a double-header which will also feature the final of the 1895 Cup.

The winners of the four second-round Betfred Challenge Cup ties on the weekend of March 27 and 28 will join the 12 Super League clubs in round three on April 11 and also qualify for the semi-finals of the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup, to be held in June.

The full list of Oldham RLFC fixtures is here at this link and reproduced in the image image below:

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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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