It was a big day for Roughyeds

Date published: Monday, May 10, 2010

CHRIS Hamilton, the Roughyeds chairman, has put out an upbeat message to fans in the aftermath of the historic day at Whitebank when Oldham played on their own ground for the first time in 13 years.

Clarice StevensIt was an emotional day for many people — and no one better underlined the significance of what it meant than 81-year-old Clarice Stevens, who was at the ground early to be first through the turnstiles after travelling on her own on public transport from her home in Timperley, Cheshire.

Clarice, a season-ticket holder, has been watching Roughyeds since she was a girl of 17 growing up in Oldham.

She left home early, walked 15 minutes to the Metro stop, got the Metro into Manchester and then travelled to Garden Suburbs by bus before walking down to the ground.

Her late husband Jack died five and a half years ago but she still buys his season ticket as she has done for many years.

“I wouldn’t have missed this big day for Roughyeds for the world,” she said. “I’d have walked to Oldham if I had to. The Metro was full of Manchester United fans but there was only one place I was heading and that was to Whitebank.

“I’ve watched Oldham Rugby since I was a girl, and I really wanted to be here today. It means such a lot to me.

“As the first supporter through the turnstiles I had my photograph taken. That was nice too.”

During the morning before the game the ground was blessed by the club’s new chaplain, the Rev Tony Ford of Christ Church, Chadderton — and that was another emotional occasion for the 15 or so people who were present.

Summing up the historic day’s events, Chris Hamilton said: “I thought it went pretty well. Remember, this was the first time that, as a club, we have ever had to organise the whole match-day process.

“We will now have a debrief and there will be areas we can improve on, and we will certainly have the opportunity because we have a lot of matches at Whitebank on the next few Sundays, starting with the visit of London Skolars this coming Sunday.

“I would like to record my thanks to everyone who turned up for the York game; to the many volunteers without whose help the game would not have taken place; and to members of the club’s staff for all the extra work they have done in unpaid hours.

“A lot of people showed their appreciation of everything that has been done at the ground, and we are grateful to them for that.

“The result of the game was disappointing, I know. We would loved to cap everything off with another victory, but this whole occasion was all about much more than a game.

“It was a historic day for the club, back in Oldham on our own ground after 13 years on the road as nomads. It was a masive milestone in the club’s history.

“Nobody was more gutted than the players but this was the first of five out of six games at home and I hope everyone will be back next week to continue their support for the club and the team at the beginning of this new adventure in our own ground.

“If, last November, somebody had told us we would win seven of our first eight league games; be top of Championship 1; and be playing on our own ground in Oldham we would have referred them to hospital for treatment.

“So we musn’t be greedy, or too disappointed because we were beaten by York. The fans I spoke to after the game all said that the occasion was a lot more than the result, and they were right, of course.

“It was also the first match for the safety officer and the stewards and I think we have to be pleased with the way the whole operation went, bearing in mind that this was only the start.

“Work continues to be done down at the ground and it will continue for a long time to come as we gradully build for the future.

“The RFL were represented at the game by Emma Rosewarne, who was taking stock of what went on and making notes. No doubt there will be some things we need to look at, but that’s only to be expected.”