Assurances on promotion

Date published: Friday, September 27, 2013

CHRIS Hamilton has assured supporters that Oldham WILL be playing in the Championship next season IF they win the right to do so.

With promotion riding on the outcome of Sunday’s Championship One play-off final against Rochdale at Leigh, Roughyeds fans have expressed fears that Whitebank might not get RFL approval to stage second-tier rugby league.

Roughyeds know work needs to be done, but say they won’t let that stand in the way of progressing to the next level if the players win on Sunday.

Relegated at the end of the 2006 season, with the club battling to overcome a cash crisis, Roughyeds have had seven seasons in tier three.

They were beaten in four finals in a row — two with Steven Deakin as coach and two with Tony Benson in charge — and now stand within 80 minutes of glory at the end of Scott Naylor’s first season as a head coach and in his first at Whitebank.

Said chairman Hamilton, who has suffered five grand-final heartbreaks going back to 2001: “Scott and Lee Spencer (assistant coach) have done a fabulous job and the least they deserve, like the players, is to go up to the next level.

“In its current state Whitebank needs work to be done on it, but we have in place plans B, C, D, E and F, and they do include Whitebank.

“We have been talking to the RFL for a long time about what happens ‘if’ and I can confirm that if we win the right to go up we WILL be there next season.

“I am not being evasive, but I can’t say more just yet.

“A whole host of things are going on behind the scenes.

“It’s 16 years since we re-formed the club and in the current economic climate this has definitely been the most difficult in terms of finance, acquiring sponsorship and getting people through the turnstiles.

“What we have achieved on the field despite all that is testament to the bulldog spirit of coaches and players and the loyal backing of our diehard fans.”

With a fully fit squad at his disposal, Naylor will pick from the following 18:

Lepori, Agoro, Cookson, Ford, Bloomfield, Palfrey, Hughes, Joy, Gee, Boults, Gilchrist, Crowley, Langtree, Hobson, Files, Thompson, Ward, Haggarty.

Full-back Richard Lepori, meanwhile, expects a ‘feisty’ final fling from the derby rivals.

He said: “We’ve had some close battles this season and they’ve all been full of passion. They are beating us 2-1 in league and play-off games, so we’ve a chance to put the record straight.

“As long as we play like we did against London last time out we are confident we can win.

“A club like Oldham, with its history and support, deserves to be in the Championship. We’ll be going all out to take it there.”

Hornets boss Ian Talbot says it will be a ‘fairytale’ if Rochdale go up by winning their first final in more than 22 years.

Like Naylor, he says he will choose from a full-strength squad, allaying fears in the Rochdale camp that veterans Wayne English and Chris Hough might not be fit.

Added Talbot: “We’ve won our last two games (versus London and Oldham) with last-minute plays and that bodes well for us in what is likely to be another close encounter.”

Tickets will be on sale at Whitebank between 5pm and 6.30pm tonight and tomorrow between 11am and 1pm.