Standing on the threshold of new beginnings, which start on Saturday with the 2021 Awards Night in the Oldham Event Centre at Boundary Park, the club is looking ahead positively to life in Betfred League One and to the much-publicised challenges that lie ahead for Rugby League in general and for third-tier clubs in particular.
Chairman Chris Hamilton, and consequently the club to which he has devoted a large slice of his life, has never been afraid of a challenge – and he won’t be now as he and his new vice-chairman John Roddy lead the fight to give the club a future, based on a fresh start, writes ROGER HALSTEAD.
John comes in as a man with a mission. He’s experienced the chair at Leigh Centurions and at Swinton Lions and he’s been close to our club for the past two years as managing director of CDX Security, our main sponsor.
His mission is to engage with supporters — current, new and former — and to that end he has already promised a Fans' Forum and, ahead of that, has launched a supporters' survey.
But that’s not all. Stuart Littler comes in as our new head coach on a two-year contract and Stu, like his former chairman at Swinton, has a vision for the Roughyeds' future which includes the entire rugby league community in the town and its districts.
A lot of our senior players are moving on, but others are coming in and more interesting announcements will be made on players before the end of the week.
So much for those who were worried that there might not be an Oldham RLFC in 2022. They clearly didn’t know Chris Hamilton as well as they thought.
John Roddy, his new right-hand man, will head a large CDX group at Saturday’s Awards Night and its an opportunity for fans to meet and greet the new vice-chairman, while also saying farewell to those players who are leaving us for pastures new or retiring from the sport like Gareth Owen, Phil Joy and Danny Bridge.
All three are local lads and both Owen and Joy have given us years and years of service, amassing 155 and 166 appearances respectively – rare, indeed, in these days of short-term contracts and comings and goings at the end of each season.
Most of last season’s players will be present, together with Brian McDermott and the man who will be Stu Littler’s No 2 next year, Brendan Sheridan.
Big Macc, the most successful coach in Super League history, signed off his three months at Oldham with the following words:
“I’ve had my eyes opened. I’ve more respect now for part-time lads than I’ve ever had.
“And as for Chris Hamilton he deserves far more headlines and far more support than he ever gets.
“I have nothing but admiration for him, for the Oldham players and for the club.”
Fans planning to show their support for the club and its new beginnings by attending Saturday’s Awards Night are asked to buy tickets (£15 including potato-pie supper) Online via the Roughyeds ticket page by midnight Thursday, this so the club has reasonably accurate numbers for catering purposes.