Joy’s top-player award

Date published: Monday, October 21, 2013

PHIL Joy’s rapid rise from novice to pack leader in his first season of senior rugby earned him Oldham RL Club’s player-of-the-year award.

The 22-year-old prop, who is studying at Leeds University for a masters degree in maths and international finance, received his trophy just a year after winning its reserve-team equivalent.
“In that year we’ve watched him grow as a player and as a person,” said head coach Scott Naylor at the club’s end-of-season awards dinner.

There were several candidates for the award, but both he and his assistant Lee Spencer agreed it should go to Joy.

Added Naylor: “We looked at him at our first training session at the club and wondered who he was and what on earth he was doing there. He didn’t look like a rugby player at all.

“But he went better and better during the long weeks of pre-season training and he stepped up again when the season got underway.

“It didn’t seem too long before he was leading the pack — and he really came of age at Oxford in July. Their forwards picked him out and tried to annihilate him every time he carried the ball up, but he never took a backward step. That takes a lot of doing for even the most battle-hardened forward.

“Both ‘Spanner’ (Spencer) and I were mightily impressed by that performance, but he was consistently good all season.

“On top of that he’s one of the nicest people you could wish to meet.

“In choosing a player for this kind of award ‘Spanner’ and I perhaps look at things a little bit differently to a lot of people.”

Joy said: “A few of the boys could have won it. I was lucky to have such great team mates around me.”

Club captain Lewis Palfrey won the Dave Davenport Trophy as supporters’ player-of-the-year, presented to him by ORSA chairman Nigel Marland.

The players’ top player, voted by his peers, was full-back Richard Lepori, whose trophy was sponsored and presented by Jack Doughty.

Club chairman Chris Hamilton presented a clubman-of-the-year award to Craig Thomas, for his work behind the scenes, and the Fred Laughton unsung-hero trophy to 16-year-old Nathan Murgatroyd, who has done two seasons as club mascot, Roary the Roughyed.

Said the chairman: “Craig will turn his hand to anything for us, while Nathan is a great ambassador for the club in his role as Roary.”

Neil Roden, who has retired as a player after making nearly 300 appearances for the club, was given a special long-service award.
Picture (left to right): Neil Roden, Nathan Murgatroyd, Phil Joy, Richard Lepori, Lewis Palfrey, Craig Thomas.