OLDHAM RLFC has confirmed that its home ground in Betfred League One 2022 will be the Vestacare Stadium in Whitebank Road, Limehurst Village in Oldham.
It was on that perfectly-flat, superbly groomed artificial pitch that Roughyeds enjoyed one of their most enthralling and spectacular wins in recent years when they beat Newcastle Thunder in the 2019 Promotion Final.
It also means that new-look Roughyeds, with a new coach, a multitude of new players, a new man coming in as vice-chairman to work alongside chairman Chris Hamilton and a new Supporters' Group, will be back in Oldham after playing Betfred Championship rugby in 2020 and 2021 at Bower Fold in Stalybridge.
Said chairman Hamilton:
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank Stalybridge for the last couple of years, but the fact remains that the disappointment of relegation back to League One is tempered by the fact that we are back in Oldham.
“Obviously, we are striving for and working towards having a successful season in Betfred League One.
“We appreciate it has taken a while for confirmation of our home venue but that was because the Vestacare Stadium is used extensively by several other teams, each of which has league commitments.
“Avro have been working hard behind the scenes so that we can play there, but that’s all concluded now.
“Full details on season tickets etc will be announced shortly, but we can confirm now that we will be playing a friendly at the Vestacare on Saturday, January 22 (6pm kick-off) versus Wakefield Trinity.”
Full details for that game and the following week-end’s home Challenge Cup-tie against Lock Lane or Thatto Heath will be announced soon.
Head coach Stu Littler said fans would most appreciate the fact that their Oldham team was back playing in its home town and the town it represents.
“We’ll be playing for Oldham IN Oldham and we’ll be trying to create a community atmosphere in which Oldham people can play a key part.
“We hope to attract them in numbers, including whole families who can enjoy themselves watching a team which, hopefully, will be playing good rugby too !
“It’s a fast pitch which should suit the way we want to play.
“Pre and early-season games could be hit by bad weather, but the Vestacare pitch should reduce the risk of that.
“On top of that, we already know the pitch to a degree because we’ve trained on there and some of the lads have played on it, either for Oldham or for other clubs.”
Charlie O’Brien, Avro FC’s Head of Operations, described the announcement — put out simultaneously by both clubs on their websites and social media channels — as “fantastic news” for Avro, Oldham RLFC, the town and rugby supporters.
“I come from a footballing background, but it is clearly visible to me that from a business, community and sporting aspect, Rugby League is very important to the town of Oldham.
“Chris and everyone else at Oldham RLFC seem ambitious to improve fan engagement, attract additional support and entice former supporters back to the club.
“This is truly great to see and to be a part of as they return to the Vestacare Stadium.”