Jason’s trip down Memory Lane

Date published: Thursday, April 3, 2014
WHEN the Oldham team bus rolls into the Provident Stadium on Sunday, Scott Naylor won’t be the only one to alight on a trip down Memory Lane.
Jason Boults was a boyhood Bradford fan — and his sporting dream came true when, aged 16, he signed pro forms for the club he adored.
“There was nobody prouder than my grandad. He took me to my first Bradford game when I was seven and I was immediately hooked,” said the long-serving Roughyeds prop.
“For years, he and I went everywhere watching Northern, as they were called back then, and when I signed he was absolutely made up.”
Now aged 30, and in the twilight of a career that took him from Bradford, to Halifax and then to Oldham in 2007, Boults has fond memories of where it all began — Odsal — as he looks ahead to the Roughyeds’ fourth round Tetley’s Challenge Cup tie.
He had five years there, playing in four academy finals but winning only one against arch-rivals Leeds at Headingley.
“It was a brilliant apprenticeship,” he recalled. “We often played curtain-raisers at Odsal in front of huge crowds and Sky TV cameras and I like to think it gave me a great grounding in the game.
“in those days the first team used us academy lads as tackle bags in training — and many was the time I would take a big hit from a certain Scott Naylor.”
Boults lives in Halifax, but works in Bradford at Hallmark Cards where a lot of his work mates are Bulls fans.
“They’ve been giving me stick all week,” he said. “But I can hold my own. And I’ve told them not to expect to get all their own way on Sunday.
“We were thrashed at St Helens two years ago, but we are a totally different squad now, younger, full of enthusiasm and with a lot of self-belief.
“Most of the boys will be playing Super League opponents for the first time. There are a few nerves knocking about, I suspect, but I think we’ll do all right as long as we have a good go at them.
“When all is said and done, if there is any pressure at all it’s on them.”
Boults’s 178th game for Oldham will, he says, be a special one.
His parents, brother and grandad will be in the stand, not to mention lots of his work mates, who will be rooting for the Bulls.
“They can call the stadium what they want. It will always be Odsal to me, the place I grew up. A lot has changed since those days, but I will still get a buzz when I run out on to the pitch.
“I’m looking forward to it — and come Sunday I’ll be just as excited as I was when I was a kid.”