“Fans are our 18th man” Spanner

Date published: Thursday, September 19, 2013

WITH a full season’s work riding on the outcome of Sunday’s big game at Whitebank, Oldham’s assistant coach Lee Spencer has appealed to fans to turn up in strength and raise the roof in support of the Roughyeds.

Victory against London Skolars (3pm kick off) will take Roughyeds to within 80 minutes of promotion and will set up an intriguing re-match against derby rivals Rochdale Hornets in the play-off final at Leigh Sports Village.

Defeat will bring the season to a bitterly-disappointing end and condemn Scott Naylor’s young squad to an eighth consecutive season in the sport’s third tier.

Torrential rain last Sunday restricted the attendance to 619, but with the weather forecast for weekend looking good, Spencer is urging supporters to double that figure and create an atmosphere which will make the most of home advantage and sweep Roughyeds to a crucial victory.

Said Spencer: “Fans can be our 18th man, we saw that when we got more than 1,200 for the North Wales game. There was a terrific atmosphere, the boys responded and we won comfortably.

“The rain and the narrow 23-22 defeat by Rochdale put a damper on things last Sunday, but we now face a must-win game in which there is no margin for error.

“We even got 1,100-plus for the bottom-of-the-table game with Gloucester. Fans appreciate a winning team that puts in honest endeavour and despite last week’s blip we can claim to be both of those.

“We are, after all, two wins away from promotion after a season in which we surpassed all expectations by finishing second, only two points behind the champions.

“We are proud of the whole squad for their dedication to the cause that we set out for them when we started this journey last November.

“We have constantly challenged them to raise their standards and their response has been nothing short of phenomenal.

“With such a lot riding on Sunday’s game we’d like to think we could get our biggest crowd of the season and perhaps even a best-ever attendance at Whitebank.”

The record stands at 1,275 for a play-off clash with York City Knights three years ago. Roughyeds won 41-32, but met them again in the final two weeks later and were beaten 25-4.

Added Spencer: “This will be our last game of the season on home soil and it’s an opportunity for the town as a whole to turn up in force and give us a rousing send-off.

“A four-figure crowd at Whitebank can provide an intimidating atmosphere because spectators are so close to the pitch.

“Let’s make home advantage count. If our fans are loud and proud it will make a massive difference.”