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It's the people that count

INCLUDED among the people in our hospitality suite last Sunday were Neil Challinor, son of the late, great Jim Challinor, and Neil’s wife Beverley.

Older supporters will recall that “Gentleman Jim”, as he was often referred to, coached Oldham for a few years in the 1970s after a star-spangled playing career.

From the age of 18, and for many years afterwards, he was centre to the legendary winger Brian Bevan in the magnificent Warrington team of that time, which included the likes of Bevan, Harry Bath and Gerry Helme, who also became coach at Oldham in later years.

They drew with Halifax at Wembley in 1954 and then beat them in the replay at Odsal in front of an official crowd of more than 102,000, Jim scoring the first Wire try in a magnificent performance.

A year later, 1955, they beat Oldham at Maine Road in the Championship Final.

Now installed in Warrington’s Hall of Fame, Jim went on to coach Great Britain to 1972 World Cup glory, as well as taking St Helens to Wembley, before becoming Oldham’s coach.

He was Oldham’s coach when, tragically, he died from cancer at the age of 42.

We recall this as background to the visit of his son Neil and daughter-in-law Beverley to the Vestacare Stadium last Sunday and Neil’s subsequent and lovely email which we believed had to be shared with supporters.

Neil, a Warrington fan, wrote:

“Just sending you a message to say Beverley and I really enjoyed the afternoon although the result didn’t go the way of the Roughyeds.

“You mentioned before the game about the facilities not quite matching the Haliwell Jones but for me it’s the people that count more than the surroundings and what we witnessed yesterday was a club run by a handful of very friendly, dedicated, true supporters of the game of Rugby League.

“It took me back to when I attended games with Dad when he was coach at Barrow, Liverpool City and at Watersheddings and the clubs were like one big family, the true spirit of the game. It was so nice to see.

“Beverley said that although she had been to many Rugby League matches over the years, including Grand Final hospitality at Old Trafford, she will always remember, more than any other, our afternoon at Oldham, such was the warmth of the welcome we received.

“She was right. I thought exactly the same.

“For Chris and John it can’t be easy trying to run the club in today’s environment, especially after the Covid epidemic. Hopefully, results on the field will start to improve and the experience of them working together will guide the club to a more prosperous and successful future.”

You too can be in the hospitality suite at Sunday’s home game against Midlands Hurricanes. Ring the club on 07904 898177 for full details.

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