PLAYERS, fans and club officials came together in the Vestacare Social Club on Friday night to celebrate Oldham Rugby League Club’s fabulous promotion season of 2019.

The hugely-successful event was organised by Anne Kearns, a member of the club’s volunteer management committee, whose closing remarks included an emotional send-off to departing coach Scott Naylor and his number two, Peter Carey.

Referring to the promotion-clinching run of 11 wins from the last 12 games, Kearns said: “It was a wonderful end to the year.

“Scott had belief in the players. He coached, pushed, nurtured and cared for the whole squad and boy, oh boy, did it pay off.”

There followed a standing ovation for the squad and for Naylor and Carey, who are leaving after long associations; the head coach after seven seasons, Carey after four.

Added Kearns: “We can’t thank Scott and Peter enough. At times Peter was the voice of calm. We wish them both good luck for the future.”

She was speaking in the absence of club chairman Chris Hamilton, who was unable to attend while recovering from knee surgery.

She thanked the club’s many sponsors, whose financial support was essential, and the many supporters who volunteered their time, money, skills and willingness to help the club week in, week out.

“I would also like to thank Avro FC, who go out of their way to help us, and especially to Moxy (Avro FC secretary David Moxon),” she added.

“A special thanks too to Murgy (David Murgatroyd), our fantastic MC this evening. He came here tonight straight off the plane from a holiday and he’s done a brilliant job.”

Supporter Tony Peet then went on stage and proposed a vote of thanks to Kearns and her management-team colleague Julie Collins, whom he described as “fantastic people” who had helped to keep the club


Among the 100-plus who attended were representatives of Rugby Oldham Supporters Trust (chairman Mike Kivlin, David Blackburn, Steve Brown, Michael Turner and Ray Hicks); the Past Players’ Association (John Watkins, Ray Hicks, Joe Warburton and Tony Finan); and Mike Turner from the Oldham RL Heritage Trust.

Full-back Ritchie Hawkyard, who is leaving to stay in Betfred League 1 with his former club Keighley Cougars, picked up two individual awards.

He was named top gun by Naylor, an award sponsored by the Heritage Trust and presented by Mike Turner.

He also won the vote by his fellow players, an award sponsored by the Past Players and presented by Joe Warburton and Gareth Owen, the current club captain.

“This was the best group (of players) I’ve played with in all my career,” said Hawkyard.

“There were no egos. Everyone was happy to play for each other and to support each other. It was the best team I’ve ever played in.”

ORSA sponsored the supporters’ player-of-the-year award. It was presented by its chairman, John McAndrew, and won for the second year in a row by the team’s tackling machine, Liam Bent.

“I am very humbled,” said the back-row forward, who has signed a new one-year deal for 2020.

Chris Williams, a masseur in the match-day backroom team, was named Clubman of the Year, a prize sponsored by LTS and Pam Taylor, who presented the award.

Named Unsung Hero was 71-year-old Peter Gray, the club’s official video operator, who films every home game for use by both the RFL and the club’s coaching staff.

One of his special ‘Conquer The Moment’ video productions was a highlights package of the 2019 season which itself was one of the highlights of the evening.

Peter’s partner June died in mid-season, but he continued to work for the club on match days and, on receipt of his award, immediately dedicated it to June whom, he said, always supported him in his voluntary work for the Roughyeds.