Neil testimonial news

Date published: Tuesday, February 4, 2014
NEIL Roden’s testimonial year got off to a good start at Whitebank on Saturday night when ten teams of Roughyeds fans competed in a sports and general knowledge quiz compered by David Murgatroyd.
Outright winners were the ‘In-Betweeners’, captained by lifelong rugby league supporter and keen Oldham and Waterhead fan Jimmy Wood.
Roden’s team, ‘The Rats’, included his wife Tanya and his dad Jack, chief scout at Wigan Warriors, who has pledged to give his son all the help he can on player recruitment in his new role as coach of the Oldham under-20s squad.
The under-20s’ first appearance will be in a pre-season warm-up match against Keighley Cougars at Whitebank on Wednesday week, February 12 (kick-off 7.45pm).
Roden scored 113 tries in 296 games for the club, but he said his first as coach of the youngsters will be more nerve-wracking than any of them.
He added: “My thanks go to everyone who supported my opening testimonial event on a dreadful night. 
“We might not be the best supported club in the game, but over the years I’ve been here I’ve never ceased to admire the resilience and loyalty of our diehards.
“I can honestly say that my regard for the friendship and backing of the fans is one of the factors that has kept me at this club for 14 years, apart from two seasons when I was away at Batley and Leigh. 
“When the chance came to come back I leapt at it.”
Interviewed on stage, he said the one game that will always stand out in his Roughyeds memories was the 39-32 win at Rochdale at the end of the 2001 season, which earned Mike Ford’s side a crack at Widnes in the Northern Ford Premiership grand final.
Hornets led 32-14 with 18 minutes to go when Ford introduced himself off the bench to produce a stunning Roughyeds comeback.
Said Neil: “Mike was at the end of his playing career, so I wouldn’t say he was the best player I’ve seen here, but he taught me a massive amount of everything I know about how to play at half-back. I will always be indebted to him for that.
“David Gibbons was one of the best I’ve played alongside in the Oldham jersey, but if I had to pick out one player for pound-for-pound effort, bravery and sheer consistency week in and week out it would be — and this might surprise people —- full-back Paul O’Connor. 
“I thought he was fantastic.”