New-look Scorpions

Date published: Thursday, February 27, 2014
DAFFODILS and leeks will still be out for St David’s Day when Oldham kick-off their 2014 Championship One campaign in Maesteg at the head of the Valleys.
Appropriately, and unlike previous trips down there, Roughyeds will be faced by a South Wales Scorpions side made up almost entirely of Welsh-born players.
Every player in the squad has represented Wales at one level or another and only three of them were born outside the Principality.
With new owners (and now under the umbrella of the Welsh RL), a new coach in Mike Grady, a new captain in Phil Carleton and a new home base at Maesteg, Scorpions will be unrecognisable from the side which Scott Naylor’s boys beat three times last season.
“We are all Welsh qualified and that makes us a very tight group,” said Carleton. “It’s going to stand us in good stead when things get tough.”
Describing Oldham as “a tough lot”, he added: “I’ve played against them a few teams. They’re always physical. Coming off the field I always knew I’d been in a fight.
“They’re fancied by a lot of people to go up, so they will be a real test for us.
“For some of our boys it will be their first professional game of rugby league. They’re excited at the prospect.
“We aim to get into an arm wrestle and stick in there until somebody cracks and makes a mistake.”
It will be a nostalgic trip for older Roughyeds fans because Maesteg was the rugby union club from which the great Charlie Winslade came north to sign for Oldham in 1950.
One of the Watersheddings club’s all-time best, he played 358 games for Oldham in his 11 years here, forming a second-row with Sid Little which was the envy of every club in the game.
He represented Wales and Great Britain during a heady period in which Oldham were crowned rugby league champions in 1957 and won the Lancashire Cup three years in a row.
He ended his career at Warrington, but his heart was always at Watersheddings. Following his death in 1993 his ashes were scattered on the pitch.
And one of the streets that now forms a housing development on the site of the old ground is called Winslade Close in his memory.