SCOTT Naylor is adamant that 2013 can be the year of the Roughyed.
The club has languished in rugby league’s third tier for the past six seasons, but the Oldham boss is confident his squad can be in seventh heaven in the next few months.
He delivered that message forcibly at Whitebank last night in a pre-season rallying call to fans.
Roughyeds open up on Sunday with the first of four group games in the Northern Rail Cup against highly-fancied North Wales Crusaders at Wrexham (2.30pm kick off).
The Cup is spread over the first four Sundays in March, followed by the start of league competition with Rochdale’s visit to Whitebank in Kingstone Press Championship One on Good Friday, March 29 (3pm).
After handing out squad numbers to each of his 22 men, Naylor told supporters:”We’ve got a great bunch of lads whose priority this year is to win promotion.
“It would be nice to pick up silverware in the Northern Rail Cup, and we’ll be striving for that, but the sole purpose of our being here in 2013 is to take this club up to the next division.
“There is no reason why we can’t do it.
“We’ve been training and preparing for the past 15 weeks and the way the lads have responded has been top class; absolutely brilliant from day one.
“To take the club forward we have been pushing them at Super League level and I can’t speak too highly of the work they have put in.
“In winning each of our warm-up games, we were given two good tests by Salford and by Rochdale.
“We handled Salford well, and then came Rochdale. The chairman drilled it into me that this was a match we had to win, otherwise I might be getting my P45 !
“It didn’t come to that because our pack played particularly well; in large chunks of the game we played fast-flowing rugby; and we won.
“But the real work starts on Sunday. Playing week in and week out over a long season is much tougher than pre-season training.
“Players take bad knocks and they are pushed to the limit, but ‘Spanner’ (his assistant Lee Spencer) and I handpicked every one of our players because we are confident they can do the job.”
Squad numbers were issued as follows:
Jamie Dallimore (20), Callum Marriott (17), Sam Gee (9), Mo Agoro (2), Mark Hobson (13), Jason Boults (10), Adam Files (14), Dale Bloomfield (5), Lewis Palfrey (6), Chris Tyrer (15), Josh Crowley (11), Dave Cookson (21), Neil Roden (7), Liam Thompson (22), Phil Joy (18), Danny Samuel (3), Kenny Hughes (16), Michael Ward (19), Steven Nield (4), Liam Gilchrist (8),
Danny Langtree (12), Richard Lepori (1).
The meet-and-greet evening raised £700 for ORSA’s Squad Strengthener 2013, taking the total raised in three weeks to more than £2,000.
Said delighted ORSA chairman Nigel Marland: “In 2012 it took us the full year to pull in £2,300 and we’ve now done £2,000 in three weeks, an outstanding result.
“We would ask all supporters to consider joining the scheme which is for the sole purpose of squad strengthening.”