Reserves dropped in cutback

Date published: Wednesday, February 25, 2015

OLDHAM RL Club, preparing for life in the new 14-club Kingston Press League One, have reluctantly jettisoned their second team.

They were one of only two third-tier clubs to have a team in last season’s Championships under-20s league, but faced by increased expenditure in retaining the bulk of last season’s senior squad they have bowed to the inevitable.

“It had to be done purely for financial reasons,” said chairman Chris Hamilton.

Roughyeds will kick-off the 2015 season at Whitebank on Sunday with a first-team squad of 20 contracted players, seven of whom have come up through the reserves.

Tom Dempsey, Kenny Hughes, Phil Joy, Danny Langtree, Steven Nield, Michael Ward and Richard Joy were all groomed in second-team rugby.

Added Hamilton: “We have a proud record in terms of developing our own players and we pursued that home-grown policy for as long as we were able.

“We pressed on with it, although we felt there should have been more support from the governing body for clubs who were trying to produce their own.

“I’ve been banging the drum for a few years for clubs with second teams to have their initiative reflected in their central funding, which would have helped with the costs.
“It never happened, and to make things even more difficult we’ve had constantly-changing age limits — scholarships (under-18s), then under-23s, then under-20s and in the coming season it’s back to under-23s.
“On top of that, we’ve had to invest heavily in the first team because a number of our players attracted attention from other clubs in the new and expanded League One and that inevitably raised the bar on contracts.”

Jarrod Ward, Adam Neal and Jack Holmes have arrived as new signings; 12 of last year’s squad have signed new deals; and two who were on loan last season, George Tyson and Gareth Owen, are now fully-contracted Oldham players.

Ward, Neal and Holmes will be pushing to make their Whitebank debuts on Sunday when third-tier new boys Coventry Bears are here in the first round of the new League One Cup.