Oldham clash brings back memories for Wellens

Oldham’s Challenge Cup tie at St Helens will bring memories flooding back for Saints’ skipper Paul Wellens.

The 32-year-old full-back vividly recalls going to Knowsley Road and Watersheddings as a boy to watch Oldham and his beloved Saints battle it out on the road to Wembley in front of full-house crowds.

The last of those Watersheddings occasions was in 1987 when his dad took him to the old ground to watch his heroes beat Oldham 24-14 in round two after Roughyeds had rocked mighty Wigan 10-8, also at home, in round one.

Saints made it to the twin towers that year, as they had done after knocking out Oldham in 1976 and 1978 and as they would do again in 2002 after a 40-6 fourth-round win in a tie played at Stalybridge.

“Here in St Helens we still regard Oldham as a fantastic rugby league town,” said Wellens, who has scored 196 tries in an astonishing 416 games for his hometown club, going back to 1998.

“You’ve only to look at the amateur set-up there and the number of top players the town has produced and is continuing to produce.

“It’s remarkable that players like Paul Sculthorpe, Kevin Sinfield, Iestyn Harris and Barrie McDermott all came from the same patch and its remarkable that the town continues to churn out quality youngsters year on year.

“The town’s pro club has gone through some tough times since Watersheddings went and its a shame that, in many ways, it has been left to fend for itself when other clubs seem to have had a lot more help.”

Words of comfort for Oldham will be the last thing on his mind, though, when battle commences on Friday night.

“We need to be professional — and we need to be ruthless,” said Wellens.

“There is a lot of competition within our group and we need to play well to keep our places in the team.

“We’ve had only one blip in recent weeks —- against Wigan on Good Friday — and we’ve got to keep that momentum going.

“We took our foot off the gas in our narrow cup win at Widnes and that is something we must never do again.

“Rugby league is a tough sport regardless of the strength of the opposition.

“You’ve got to turn up and perform and the 17 who get the shirts on Friday know it is up to them whether they keep them.”

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.