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Countdown to the start of a new era

OLDHAM couldn’t have a better chance of reaching the last eight of the 1895 Cup, given that Roughyeds and Rochdale Hornets are the ONLY League One teams to be grouped with one Championship side, admittedly holders Halifax Panthers, and one fellow third-tier club.

The other six League One clubs hoping to get to Wembley in June next year – namely Workington, Keighley, Newcastle, Hunslet, North Wales Crusaders and Midlands Hurricanes – each face Championship competition in both group games.

Moreover, Sean Long’s men, like the above six, are at home in both games. Unlike the others, who each face TWO Championship opponents, Oldham have massive Boundary Park dates against Halifax on Sunday, January 28 and against Rochdale Hornets, our near neighbours and bitter-sweet rivals from the other side of the M62, on Sunday, February 18.

It was known before this week’s announcements that in the group stages League One clubs would get home advantage against Championship opposition, but in the case of Oldham v Rochdale, two third-tier teams, it was anyone’s guess who would be at home and, as we know, Boundary Park will host this mighty meaningful derby clash only four weeks after a Rochdale side possibly containing no fewer than EIGHT former Roughyeds go head to head with the ’new’ Oldham at the Crown Oil Arena for the Law Cup.

It suddenly seems like we are on countdown for the start of a new era with everything in place for 2024 on the playing side, season-ticket prices out, and now hugely positive news on the part we will play in the group stages of the revamped 1895 Cup which, for those who might not know, is for clubs outside Super League.

We’ve got to remember, of course, that London Broncos are now in Super League; that Wakefield Trinity are in the Championship; that Keighley Cougars and Newcastle Thunder are in League One; that Dewsbury Rams and Doncaster are in the Championship; and that neither Toulouse Olympique (Championship) nor Cornwall (League One) is involved in the 1895 Cup.

That leaves 13 Championship clubs and eight from League One to make up the 21 clubs that will be in seven groups of three, the winners of each qualifying for the quarter-finals plus the best second-placed team.

GROUP ONE: Workington Town, Barrow Raiders, Whitehaven

GROUP TWO: Keighley Cougars, Dewsbury Rams, Bradford Bulls  

GROUP THREE: Newcastle Thunder, York Knights, Wakefield Trinity

GROUP FOUR: OLDHAM, Halifax Panthers, Rochdale Hornets

GROUP FIVE: Hunslet, Batley Bulldogs, Featherstone Roivers

GROUP SIX; North Wales Crusaders, Widnes Vikings, Swinton Lions

GROUP SEVEN: Midlands Hurricanes, Doncaster, Sheffield Eagles

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