Get behind the boys’ plea

Date published: Thursday, August 8, 2013

TURN out in numbers . . . and cheer us on to promotion.

That’s the message to local rugby league fans from table-topping Oldham’s coaches and players ahead of Sunday’s final home game of the regular season against Gloucester All Golds (3pm).
A young Roughyeds squad — five points clear at the top of Championship One — has won 11 of its last 13 league games and on Sunday will be going for its eighth win in a row.
Said coach Scott Naylor: “We knew we had to play a brand of rugby people would want to watch, and it looks like a lot of fans are starting to come back.
“There are definite signs that the Oldham public is responding to what we are doing. It’s just a pity we have only one home game left.”
Last time Oldham played at home, the crowd of 1,209 that watched Naylor’s men beat title rivals North Wales Crusaders 28-10 was the biggest at Whitebank in three years.
It doubled this season’s average and, for the first time since the 2011 season, fans were allowed into the area behind the posts at the bottom end of the ground to provide more viewing space up the Whitebank Road side.
Since the club moved into Whitebank in 2010 there has only been one bigger attendance and that was 1,275 for a play-off win against York City Knights at the end of that season. Two weeks later Roughyeds were beaten by the same opponents in the final at Warrington.
This latest 1,200-plus attendance was a season’s best for all clubs in
Championship One and, on the day, it was significantly better than six out of seven Championship matches. The only bigger crowd in the higher division was 1,722 at Halifax v York.
The next best after that was at Swinton v Featherstone and that was only 778.
Added Naylor: “Crusaders brought about 200, so a thousand Oldham fans turned out. That’s all it takes to provide a fantastic atmosphere at Whitebank, especially when the boys are playing well..
“It will be terrific if the fans turn up in similar numbers on Sunday to give us the backing the boys deserve as our programme of home league games comes to an end.”
In a spontaneous move to interact with fans at the end of the North Wales game, club captain Lewis Palfrey led his players in a rendering of their victory chant on the field — a custom normally reserved for the dressing room.
To the appreciation of a small band of travelling Roughyeds fans they repeated it in public after their 44-24 win at London Skolars.
In another move to forge links between dressing room and fans, assistant coach
Lee Spencer has cycled coast-to-coast from Morecambe to Bridlington to raise around £300 in sponsorship which will be donated to ORSA, the official supporters’ association.