21st August 2019, 11:16 | Oldham
The biggest community event ever staged by Oldham Rugby League Club went down well and was very successful, said club chairman Chris Hamilton.
"The rain held off and it proved a massive day for the club both on and off the pitch," said the chairman, referring to Oldham's 40-14 win against Doncaster in the Betfred League 1 promotion race as well as events in the club's Mayoral 999 Day, which took place for two hours before the game.
Present at both were the Worshipful the Mayor and Mayor's Consort of Oldham Metropolitan Borough, Councillor Ginny Alexander and Mr Adrian Alexander, her husband, as well as the Youth Mayor of the borough, Samah Khalil, and Debbie Abrahams MP and her husband John Abrahams.
Prior to kick-off, the Mayor was introduced to the crowd , the second biggest of the season, by the town crier of Shaw and Crompton, Mr Marcus Emms, before she delivered the match ball to the referee, John McMullen.
Flag bearers were scouts from the 6th/15th Lancashire Otters, based in Middleton, and the 7th Manchester Group, led by Jonathan Collinson-Taylor.
The Otters included several generations from one family, headed by Sue Martin; her daughter Michelle Higgs; her grand-daughter Charlotte Martin (Akela); Michelle's grand-daughter Lilly Bestley, aged eight and Charlotte's daughter Maisie McCormack, aged two, an honorary scout who was dressed in uniform.
The town crier of Shaw and Crompton, the only town crier in Greater Manchester, was there with his wife Misha, with whom he visits sick children all over the country and all the year round, dressed as Santa.
The Emergency Services, Fire, Police, Ambulance and Oldham Mountain Rescue Team were there with examples of their various vehicles for public inspection and anyone who worked for those services or for the NHS got into the game for £9.99 as opposed to the normal price of £14.
One of the biggest attractions was an opportunity for fans to have pictures taken with the trophy for the Rugby League World Cup, which will next be contested in England in 2021.
For the first time the men's, women's and wheelchair competitions will be staged in a single celebratory event, culminating in an epic Finals Weekend to crown the champions of each.
In the men's competition there will be four pools of four matches competing in up to 14 stadia at venues across England.
Also popular at the Roughyeds' event were appearances in the stocks by club chairman Chris Hamilton and centre Jack Holmes, who wasn't in the team to face Doncaster.
Among those throwing wet sponges at the chairman, watched by supporters, were other players like Paul Crook and Danny Langtree, of whom Chris later said: "Danny put everything he had into his throw, luckily for me, he missed!"
For younger children there was an ice cream van, face painting and hook-a-duck.
Several of the Mayor's chosen charities had stalls or exhibitions, including the local youth zone Mahdlo; the Christie Oldham; Maggie's; RSPCA; Pennine Pen Animal Rescue; and the Stephen Gartland Foundation, which raises funds for junior rugby league teams and also funds medical treatment and equipment for sick children.
In charge of the Foundation's stand were Brad Gartland, son of the late Stephen Gartland, assisted by Peter Duffy and Keith Hook.
Also with stands were Alpha Plus, who organise the fostering of children; Positive Steps, Oldham; MacMillan Cancer Support; the Ronald McDonald Charities (supporting families with children in hospital); and Donkeystone Brewing Company of Saddleworth. Music was provided by a local Performing Arts group, the Brit Theatre.
Oldham RLFC wishes to thank all who contributed to an enjoyable and extremely positive afternoon.