Squad Strengthener has had a key role to play - Hamilton

Date published: 02 December 2020

Oldham Rugby League Club has revealed that contributions from a fans' Squad Strengthener fund have helped head coach Matt Diskin to assemble what looks like the Roughyeds' biggest and best squad for years in preparation for the 2021 Betfred Championship season.

Twenty-four fans currently pay into the fund, which is ring-fenced and used entirely for signing players or paying wages.

Others have left donations in their wills.

The fund is run by ORSA, an independent supporters' association and administered by its chairman John McAndrew, his wife Lynda and Bill Hannen.

"Club Strengthener backs us in signing players, which is obviously a crucial part of the operation and one for which the club is hugely appreciative," said club chairman Chris Hamilton.

Added coach Diskin: "I'm much more confident about 2021 than I was last time.

"We've signed real quality and it wouldn't have happened without Club Strengthener. I can't thank them enough."

Of the 27 players on Oldham's 2021 roster so far, a dozen are new boys - backs Tommy Brierley, Ben Holcroft, Ryan Ince, Ben Heaton, Max Roberts, Callum Green, James Barran and forwards Tyler Dupree, Luke Nelmes, Martyn Reilly, Liam Kirk, Shaun Pick. 

Centre Heaton and prop-forward Nelmes are returning to Oldham from Hunslet and Dewsbury Rams respectively, having previously played for Roughyeds.

Heaton, who played at Halifax for many years, and winger Ince, formerly of Widnes Vikings and Leigh Centurions, are the most experienced backs, while pack men Nelmes, Reilly (both from Dewsbury), Kirk (Bradford Bulls) and Pick, who numbers Toronto Wolfpack among his former clubs, can call on loads of know-how up front.

Said McAndrew, who also runs Oldham's Club Cash lottery: "The Strengthener fund relies on the generosity of keen fans.

"I thank each and every one of them and also the fans who support ORSA in other ways.

"It's not a good time for raising money, but we'll keep striving and we'll never give up."

Anyone wishing to know more about Club Strengthener, or to join the scheme, can speak to John McAndrew directly on 07980 129541.

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