A New Year’s wish from Oldham’s finest sporting men and women

Saddleworth’s finest sportsmen and women have given the Independent their New Year wishes.

And it promises to be a big year with Nicola White and Jess Lloyd bidding to compete in the Olympic Games in Rio.

Boxer Andy Kremner and snooker player Michael Wild also have big hopes for 2016.

It will also be big year for Oldham Athletic and Oldham Roughyeds while there is the launch of cricket’s Pennine League following the merger of the Saddleworth League and CLL.

Trevor Harrison, secretary of the new Pennine League, believes local cricket will prosper following the merger of the Saddleworth League and CLL.

Wickets will be pitched for the start of the Pennine League in April and Trevor, the long-serving secretary of the Saddleworth League, said: “It is going to be an interesting and exciting year for local cricket, and a lot of the unknown factor.

“It is sad in a lot of ways that over 100 years of tradition on the Saddleworth League is being lost, but the new league is an exciting development for local cricket.

“The top four teams from the Saddleworth League will play in the premier division of the Pennine League and it will be a challenge for them to compete against the top CLL clubs.”

Oldham Athletic’s plight in the relegation places in Sky Bet League One is very much in the thoughts of Paul Scholes.

The former Manchester United and England midfield man, now a television pundit, is a lifelong Latics’ fan with Andy Ritchie and Roger Palmer two of his boyhood heroes.

“My wish for the New Year is for Oldham to stay in League One, then hopefully kick on next season,” he said.

Programme Name: BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015 - TX: 20/12/2015 - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: SPOTY 2015 Winner Andy Murray with runner-up Kevin Sinfield and 3rd place Jessica Ennis-Hill Kevin Sinfield, Andy Murray, Jessica Ennis-Hill - (C) BBC - Photographer: Kieron MCCarron
BBC Sports Personality runner-up Kevin Sinfield with Winner Andy Murray and 3rd place Jessica Ennis-Hill (C) BBC – Photographer: Kieron MCCarron

Kevin Sinfield, the Grotton-based rugby legend, has his sights set on achieving success in union with Yorkshire Carnegie following his switch from the 15-man game.

After bowing out of league by helping Leeds Rhinos win the rarely-achieved treble of League Leaders’ Shield, Challenge Cup and Grand Final, Kevin said: “It would be huge to get promoted this season to the Aviva Premiership, but we are probably a bit far off that dream at the moment.

“That is why I signed for Carnegie because I want to play in the Premiership before the end of my career.”

Carnegie are currently third in the Green King IPA Championship, the second tier of English rugby, but only one team is promoted.

Kevin’s other wish is for the local rugby teams to prosper, especially Roughyeds following their promotion to the Championship.

“If they do well, then hopefully it will filter down to the amateur game to the likes of Saddleworth Rangers, where my sons play, and Waterhead Warriors where I started my playing days,” he explained.

Investec London Cup 2012
Nicola White

Hockey star Nicola White says it is important she hits the ground running in 2016, an Olympics year.

The 27-year-old, who is looking for selection to her second Olympics, admitted competition for places in the team for Rio is hot.

She explained: “I think most of the girls are a little bit anxious, especially if you are not involved in internationals at this early stage.

“I have been selected for a trip to Australia in February so that is a big tick. I have to play the best I can to nail down a place.”

By the time the Champions Trophy is staged in London in June it is expected that event will be a dress rehearsal for the Olympics.

“Any Olympic year is massive and for me it will either be very good or not depending on whether I am selected,” she said.

Boxer Andy Kremner, from Delph, is hoping to punch his way towards a shot at a title in 2016.

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Andy Kremner (C) Karen Priestley Photography

The 23-year-old welterweight has won all six of his bouts as a professional and believes he may be ready to challenge for a belt late this year or early next.

Andy said: “Ideally I would want 10 fights before challenging for a title which would probably be a British Masters or challenge belt.

“I am looking to fight again in February, twice more by summer and the again in September/October. And providing I win them all, I ought to be ready.

“My performances since turning professional have got better and better with each fight and I am looking forward to what hopefully will be an exciting year.”

Diggle swimmer Jess Lloyd is hoping to be on the plane to Rio to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games.

sport commonwealth games jess lloyd
Jess Lloyd

But the 20-year-old, who took time away from the sport to help care for her mother Anne in her battle against cancer, explained her illness has given her a different perspective of life.

Jess said: “I am aiming to enjoy every day because last year there were a hell of a lot of bumps to endure.

“It made me take a step back from the sport and evaluate how much my family mean to me.

“The time out set me back in my preparations for Rio, but it also did me good making me appreciate how much I love the sport.

“I had been swimming since the age of four and I had lost that spark, but the time out of the pool has made me so much more appreciative of the sport and also my family.”

Moorside snooker star Michael Wild, is looking for a lucky break in 2016 after a challenging return to the main tour last year for a second spell.

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Michael Wild

The 34-year-old regained his card by winning the European Open in Prague, but found it tough suffering two 6-0 whitewashes after qualifying for the final stages of two tournaments.

“It would be great to have a good run in a competition because last year I had some good results, notably beating Judd Trump 6-0 in the qualifier for the International Championship,” he explained.

It was a seismic result for Michael, then 120 in the world rankings, to beat the number seven so convincingly.

Michael is playing an exhibition match next month against world champion Stuart Bingham in Prague having beaten him en route to winning the Dutch Open over a decade ago.

Oldham RL coach Scott Naylor is hoping the newly-promoted Roughyeds remain in the Championship.

That is the challenge and one a lot of promoted clubs have tried and failed so we will be looking to break the mould,” explained Scott.

It will be tough for the part timers as Roughyeds will be competing against full-time outfits like Leigh Centurions, Bradford Bulls, Sheffield and London Broncos.

Scott added: “The gap between the division we have come out of and are going into is huge, and that is something we have to bridge and it is a huge challenge.

“Our link with Super League side Huddersfield Giants will again be massively important. We will need their help with the quality of player they are able to let us have. And we will be able to help those players develop by playing at a higher level.”

 

 

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