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Our new links — No 1, Joe Warburton (Players Assn)

FOLLOWING on from our recent Fans' Forum, we have invited, among several others, four local stakeholders in the future of rugby league to a meeting at which we will discuss and investigate how best we can all work together for mutual benefit in these difficult times for our sport. The meeting will be held shortly.

Among those present for round-the-table talks will be Oldham RLFC (Roughyeds); the Oldham Amateur Rugby League; the Players Association (formerly known as the Past Players Association); Rugby Oldham, the Supporters' Trust; and the Oldham RL Heritage Trust. Others will also be invited.

John Roddy, our new vice-chairman, has already spoken to representatives of each and over the next few days, in four separate stories, we’ll give you a taste of what was said at the initial representations.

First up is Joe Warburton, secretary of the Players Association, which will hold a Social Night at Springhead Liberal Club on Friday, December 3, starting at 7.30pm.

There will be a comedian, Lee Roberts, and music by Bing Findlater, once a well-known player in the local amateur league.

Mixed company tickets at £10, which include potato pie supper, can be bought over the bar at Springhead Libs or by contacting Joe Warburton (07882848340) or John Watkins (07974612038).

Speaking of his chat with John Roddy, Joe said:

“It was great to talk to John. We discussed plenty of ideas. It was all very positive. We can definitely help each other and I’m sure the other stakeholders will say the same.

“We want to give the Players Association more exposure and a more attractive profile and one way we can do that is to have a greater presence at Roughyeds' home games. We don’t have massive numbers and we talked about things like interviewing past players on the pitch, either before the game or at half-time.

“To play for Oldham is a massive honour. It’s like being part of an Elite Club and everyone who has ever dragged the jersey over his head deserves to be recognised in public . . . and what better place for that than at an Oldham game, watching the lads who are wearing the jersey now.

“I’ve got memorabilia from the Great Britain Lions which we could also present, either to the players themselves or, if they are no longer with us, to their children or grandchildren.

“We’d love to get former players involved like Tony Morrison, Shane Tupaea or Barrie McDermott, to name just three of many. We see loads of old faces at our annual dinner, but we would like to see those ‘faces’ being presented to the crowd at Oldham games or attending at least some of our monthly meetings.

“I’ve since spoken to two of my Players Assn colleagues, Ray Hicks and John Watkins, and they are very much up for it.

“Next year, Rugby Oldham, ourselves and Oldham RLFC will be having special dinners – Roughyeds because it will be 25 years since the club was re-formed – and this new link-up between all parties will enable us not to clash on dates and to make sure they are well spread.

“A lot of people will be going to all three so we don’t want them to be on top of each other.

“As I say, everything is positive and on behalf of the Players Association, I am excited about the possibility of working side by side with Roughyeds' and also with the other organisations.”

John Roddy said:

“It was good to spend time with Joe and to understand the Players' Association and what makes them tick. It was great to listen to their great service to the Oldham club and to Rugby League over the years and their ambitions for the future.

“It will also be good to meet up with the Past Players again at the forthcoming meeting with other partners, to establish how we can jointly support each other in 2022 and beyond.

“We will be working together on projects to increase memberships and crowds and to celebrate our past players in style.

“Joe’s enthusiasm is infectious and I’m sure we’ll be able to work together on some brilliant projects.”

NEXT: Phil Bradbury and the Oldham Amateur League.

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