‘Spanner’ plea for more support

LEE Spencer, Oldham RL Club’s assistant coach, is urging the town to get behind the Roughyeds’ young players in their final push for promotion.

Average age of 14 of the 17 players who won at Oxford on Sunday was 21 and Spencer believes that, despite their youth, they are good enough to go all the way.

There are two routes to promotion — by finishing top of Championship One or by winning a play-off featuring the five clubs finishing second to sixth inclusive.

Currently second, six points clear of third-placed Hemel, Oldham will hit top spot for the first time if they beat South Wales Scorpions at Whitebank on Sunday (3pm kick off) to make it nine wins from their last 11 league outings.

Spencer, or ‘Spanner’ as he is known in rugby league, is head coach Scott Naylor’s No 2 and a man who has spent eight years working for the RFL on youth development programmes at elite level.

He said: “It’s within our grasp to take this club forward to the next division in our first year here.

“Within the perimeters of our brief as coaches we have completely changed the culture of the club on the playing side.

“That isn’t a criticism of previous coaching regimes here, but a statement of fact to show we are doing things in a totally different way.

“Both Scott (Naylor) and I believe fervently in a youth policy and we see it as the path to follow in our drive to push for promotion and, if successful, to consolidate in the Championship next year.”

Both Naylor and Spencer are under contract for another year.

Over the years Spencer has worked with leading RFL coaches in elite player development and performance analysis, among them Dave Elliott, Steve Crooks, Alan Hunte, Mike Rush, Chris Chapman, Stuart Barrow and Stuart Wilkinson.

He added: “At Oldham, the first team and the under-20s train together and we regularly have up to 50 players in action at Oasis Academy on Hollins Road.

“We’ve already got three of the under-20s, Aaron Hall, Sam Singleton and Danny Rasool training with the senior squad and that will benefit them enormously next year.

“We are building for the future, but money is tight and we could do so much more if we had more Oldham people coming through the turnstiles to support an Oldham team which they can be proud of.

“The town is steeped in rugby league, but that isn’t reflected in Whitebank attendances even though we have a realistic chance of pushing for promotion and the boys are proud to be wearing the Oldham jersey.

“We probably have the youngest squad in the division, but we are going well because the players believe in us and we believe in them.

“We truly think we are on the verge of something big, and I think the stay-away supporters would see that if they came to look for themselves.”

He said all clubs were struggling financially in the current climate and added: “Our chairman, Chris Hamilton, is running a tight ship regarding finance, but the club needs more income if it is to progress at the rate we would all like to see.

“I’m not holding out a begging bowl; I’m merely flying the flag for a team of young, fit, talented athletes who have done us proud already this year and who rightly deserve the town’s backing as they stretch out to attain their season-long goals over the last few laps.”