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Celtic manor

Reporter: Alex Carey
Date published: 10 December 2015


NEWLY-PROMOTED Oldham Rugby League Club will next season play home games at Stalybridge Celtic’s Bower Fold ground.

The news fans have been waiting for since Roughyeds won promotion to the Kingston Press Championship in September was announced by club chairman Chris Hamilton, who has been on the look-out for a temporary home for the team that took League One by storm last season.

Roughyeds’ Whitebank Stadium Limeside doesn’t meet RFL minimum standards for the sport’s second tier.

With a capacity of 5,200, Bower Fold has 1,215 seats spread down both sides, terracing for standing at both ends and is covered on all four sides. Oldham’s decision to move there is subject to league approval. Plan to play at Oldham Athletic’s ground fell through due to issues of issues concerning the playing surface.

Hamilton added: “We tried really hard to reach an agreement but there were concerns about the pitch’s ability to sustain both football and rugby league, especially in the winter,” said Mr Hamilton.

Oldham’s first home game is the Championship opener against London Broncos on February 7.

Hamilton added: “We are delighted - and relieved - to have finally found a home venue for next year. Since we clinched promotion we’ve been under a lot of pressure to sort this out. Not a day has gone by when it hasn’t been at the forefront of everything I’ve been doing.

“It’s been a tough period but, subject to RFL approval, we can now look forward to life in the Championship.

“Rob Gorski at Celtic (club chairman) has been a breath of fresh air in his willingness to help. We’re looking forward to working with Celtic as we try to consolidate our place in the higher division.”

Describing Celtic’s new partnership with Oldham as “exciting”, Gorski said: “We are helping out a neighbour, but it’s a classic win-win situation.

“Roughyeds played St Helens in a cup-tie at Bower Fold in 2002 (attendance 4,089) and we were happy to look at accommodating them more permanently. We hope Oldham fans will enjoy Bower Fold. Hopefully, we will also attract new fans from Stalybridge and other parts of Tameside.”

“To have Championship rugby on their doorstep and to be able to see Oldham playing Bradford, Halifax, Leigh etc will be a big attraction. We’ve no issue with the state of the pitch. There are no sliding tackles in rugby league and no contested scrums so we don’t see wear and tear as a problem.”


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