Oldham chairman Chris Hamilton reckons their pre-season game against Featherstone will be a reminder of just how far the club has come in recent years.
The pair lock horns at Bigfella Stadium on January 15th, but it is an evening game back in 2005 that Hamilton pinpoints as a milestone date in some trouble times for the Roughyeds.
Oldham travelled to Post Office Road with just 16 players, three of which were unfit and yet still had to be named on the bench, while they also had to borrow kit from their opponents.
Hamilton said: “We were coached by Gary Mercer and David Hobbs. They instilled something very special into the players: a powerful group mentality, which the term ‘team spirit’ doesn’t quite do justice to, and was at its peak that night.
“Not for nothing did Rovers fortunes improve, when David returned to his home town club as head coach. Since then Featherstone have become a template, a shining example of how a club should operate and present itself-and that isn’t lost on us: so I guess things have come full circle.
“People can be fickle nowadays: they can also pass judgement without understanding the circumstances of situations. Your morale takes a battering. That’s when you know who your friends are, and that’s what makes coming through the other side of dark times so much sweeter. We’ve always paid our debts, and now we have a home.”
Hamilton has helped steer the club through financial difficulties, and last year they managed to secure their own new home, Whitebank Stadium, following years of struggle at Boundary Park, home of Oldham football club.
He added: “At least and at long last it’s ours and that counts for a great deal. There is a lot to do at Whitebank to make it into a facility suitable for professional sport. I’d rather have that kind of challenge than the kind we’ve had to deal with since 1997.”