Fieldhouse tips Oldham to go up

Date published: Tuesday, July 23, 2013
FORMER Oldham prop John Fieldhouse, now assistant boss at North Wales Crusaders, thinks Whitebank will be packed on Sunday for the clash of TWO teams who will soon be celebrating promotion.

He believes Crusaders will win the title to go up automatically — and he’s confident Roughyeds will  also move up  in the world as play-off winners.

“That’s what I predicted at the start of the season, and I’m sticking with it,” said Fieldhouse (51), who starred in Oldham’s promotion-winning side of 1989-90 and finished the next season as caretaker player-coach at Watersheddings after Tony Barrow was sacked in the January.

Barrow worked wonders in 89-90, winning promotion and taking his second division side to the final of the Lancashire Cup, to the semi-final of the Challenge Cup and to a 30-29 victory over Hull KR in the second division premiership final at Old Trafford.

It all counted for nothing the following year, though, when he was axed after winning five of his first 16 games in the top division.

As caretaker boss Fieldhouse won five of the remaining ten league games and, in the cup, led his side to within one game of Wembley for the second year in a row.

He couldn’t avoid the drop, though, and then it was Fieldhouse’s turn to be shown the exit door and to make way for the Australian, Peter Tunks.

More than two decades on Fieldhouse bears no grudges, admits to still having a soft spot for Oldham and says he hopes to see them in the Championship next year along with his present employers and currently the best supported team in tier three, Crusaders.

He added: “I’ll never forget my Oldham days. They were brilliant. It was a crying shame when the old club went into liquidation. I don’t know who was to blame, but I know it should never have happened to a club like that.

“It’s good to see the new club having some success, though. I genuinely believe they will go up via the play-offs.

“I know Scott Naylor (Oldham coach) from our playing days. He’s clearly got something good going over there, as is evident from recent results after not such a good start.

“Our fans have been talking about coming to Whitebank for the return fixture ever since our narrow 22-20 win at Wrexham in June.

“Even though Roughyeds could have drawn with the last kick of the game I always thought we were in control, having missed one or two scoring opportunities. No doubt Oldham would say something similar, though.

“We took an estimated 500 fans to Halifax last Saturday and they made a fantastic noise as we beat London Skolars to win the Northern Rail Bowl.

“The word is that even more of them will be at Oldham on Sunday because they enjoyed the trip to Whitebank last year, they are expecting another tight game like the one at our place and they want to see Crusaders go back to the top of the division where they believe we rightly belong.

“We might even have 700 fans backing us. Expect anything, because they are really up for this one after watching us lift silverware last weekend.

“It will be a fantastic day and on a personal note I’m eagerly looking forward to meeting up again with some of my old friends from days gone by.”

Oldham will come face to face with their former half-back Jamie Dallimore, who left Whitebank in early season to sign for the then runaway league leaders.

“He’s settled in well with us, as I knew he would,” said Fieldhouse.

“He gives us more options at half-back and in our kicking game. He takes a lot of pressure off Andy Moulsdale and we also have another couple of players who can put boot to ball.

“Oldham won’t know where the next kick is coming from.”