THE message from the top, endorsed by a good turn-out of supporters at our Fans' Forum, was a positive one — we WILL beat Rugby League’s current financial crisis by sticking together, pulling together and fighting side by side for the squad, the club and the town.
Facing fans, who applauded each speaker in turn, were Oldham RLFC chairman Chris Hamilton, his newly-appointed vice-chairman John Roddy, new head coach Stuart Littler, whose upbeat, off-the-cuff presentation received a standing ovation, and assistant coach Brendan Sheridan, who was recently named clubman of the year.
A large promotional banner, strategically placed next to them in red and white, the club colours, proclaimed that all parties would be “building the Yeds together.”
During the course of the evening, John Roddy said repeatedly that he was “a cup half full” sort of chap.
The forum began with Chris Hamilton’s chilling assessment of the situation facing all clubs, but particularly those in Betfred League One.
By the time it was drawing to a close, he said;
“I hope everyone will leave for home feeling very positive, as I do. We need people to get involved (in the club’s various fund-raising initiatives) and having seen their positive responses I’m sure they’ll do their best.”
To underpin the call for collective unity among all rugby league stakeholders in the borough, representatives present included those from the Oldham Amateur League; Rugby Oldham, the Supporters Trust; the Players' Association; the Heritage Trust; the Squad Builder scheme; the club’s Club Cash Lottery.
John McAndrew, chairman of ORSA (Oldham Roughyeds' Supporters Association) was there in his various roles, pointing out there will be more news about ORSA and its future following its next meeting.
Phil Bradbury, secretary of the Oldham Amateur League, was assured by John Roddy that the Amateur League would be involved in a forthcoming round-table summit involving all groups, including also Oldham Council, Supporters' Focus Groups and the club’s ten-man management committee.
The vice-chairman said it was extremely important that fans were included in talks relative to the club’s future going forward.
“We’ll be doing our utmost to meet the challenges ahead, but we need as much help as we can get. To coincide with next year’s 25th Anniversary of the club (we can all be proud of that) we’ll have a club dinner.
“We are working hard behind the scenes to secure things that will provide a bigger future for the club and secure its foundations within the borough.
“Given that we will still be here after 25 years, after all that has been flung at us, is a wonderful achievement and one that we need to recognise in the best way possible. You have all been part of that journey.
Other main points to emerge from the Forum:
ROUGHYEDS are hoping to play home games next season back at the Vestacare Stadium where they last played in the 2019 promotion season. Nothing is finalised yet and there are logistical details that need to be worked out, but Chris said Roughyeds had always had good relations with Avro.
THERE were 141 participants in the recent fans survey and 88 per cent of them had watched Oldham for more than ten years. “A fantastic result,” said John.
More volunteers were needed to sell draw tickets, Golden Gamble, programmes etc; not enough fans took a friend to games (only 36 per cent); and fewer than half of those who completed the survey said they regularly bought Golden Gamble and other fund-raising tickets.
Squad Strengthener was another fund raiser (donations by fans for the specific use of buying new player) in which Roughyeds were well behind other clubs.
The Plan going forward was to invite all rugby league organisations in the borough round the table and then to work on four key elements:
To play and to be based in Oldham
To increase awareness of Oldham RLFC in the town
To engage with all other groups
To aim for an average 1,000 home crowd in League One.
REPLICA shirts will be the same as last year when the club sold 150. This year they will aim to sell another 100 at cost price — as a thank-you to supporters for all their continued help. That will be 250 fans in replica shirts on match days — a great sight and one to intimidate the opposition.
A NEW ‘1895 Club’ will be launched in which supporters will pay a membership fee and then receive all sorts of perks and special offers to make membership worthwhile – and to provide another fund-raiser for the club.
NEW coach Stuart Littler said he based his coaching philosophy on five key elements — family, hard work, being humble, being adaptable and honesty.
“My job is to improve all the players and all the staff. I’m just proud to be head coach of a club like Oldham with all its history and tradition.
“We’ll be working with a ball from day one because it’s no use looking like Tarzan if you can’t catch a ball. We’re in the entertainment business so I want to play open and attractive rugby. People say its high risk, but it isn’t if you have high skill levels. In any case, it’s our job to put bums on seats and that’s what we’ll be aiming to do.
“I’m a big believer in hard work with a nice blend of youth and experience. There will be an opportunity for everyone, but they’ll have to work hard and buy into what we are saying.
“We are on a journey and we’ll take it a step at a time – first we’ll walk, then we’ll jog, then we’ll run and then we’ll sprint. I can’t do it on my own. I need you and you and you, all of you to help me and to help the players.
“We are all in this together, on a journey — together. We’ve got 19 players up to now — 16 announced so far — and if I look nicely at Chris we’ll be aiming for 24 or 25, although I’m always conscious of the fact that I can only play 17 at any one time.”