Benson’s plea to fans

Date published: Friday, March 25, 2011

OLDHAM RL boss Tony Benson has pinned his faith — and reputation — on the Roughyeds’ youth policy and players who are coming through.
Seven first-teamers — Ben Heaton, Danny Whitmore, Chris Clarke, Liam Gilchrist, Ben Wood, Jack Bradbury and Tom Wood-Hulme — are 21 or under, while 18-year-old Matthew Fogarty has performed creditably on the left wing in the last three games. There are more young players of first-team potential in the reserves..
Benson believes a club like Oldham must build on youth, but an average home attendance this year of less than 600 tells him that fans  demand instant success.
In a message to supporters ahead of Sunday’s Championship One clash with derby rivals Swinton at Whitebank (3pm kick off), the New Zealander said: “Team and club need your support more than ever before.
“We haven’t the money to buy our way out of this division. We’ve got to go for young guys who want to prove themselves — amateurs, kids from academies or young guys from our Reserves — and mould them into a team of professional players.
“That doesn’t happen overnight, but I have a lot of faith in our young players, many of them Oldham boys, and I would love the fans to turn up and get behind them in numbers.
“We are going to be a very good team, believe me, but while we are getting there we need the fans to be patient and supportive.
“The young chaps need to know that the people of the town are right behind them. Most people will perhaps not realise that our youngsters, even those who have been with Super League clubs, are playing open-age rugby for the first time.
“They are being asked to do things they have never done before on a rugby field and, inevitably, they are having to negotiate a huge learning curve.
“They are coming along nicely, but they are young and they are going to make mistakes.”
Benson believes his young squad has the potential to be moulded into a successful outfit that can serve the club well for the next few years.
He added: “We are all striving to be the best we can be. We are putting in long hours to improve the boys individually and as a team, but it isn’t easy for them: they are having to learn, and learn quickly.
“We have fielded a very young side in the last few games and we have been asking them to make significant changes in how they play the game.
“All I ask of the fans is that they remain patient; put their faith in the system like we at the club have done; and give these lads the backing they deserve.
“The Oldham boys especially are so proud to put on the shirt. Let’s make them even prouder by showing them that Oldham people are backing them all the way.”