CLUB captain Gareth Owen is the latest member of last season’s squad to re-sign for 2018 as Oldham RL Club’s plans for League One continue to take shape.
The Moorside born and bred hooker, who lives off Haven Lane, has joined fellow forwards Adam Neal, Phil Joy and Danny Langtree in putting pen to paper on a new agreement, in his case despite suffering the first serious injury of his career which forced him to miss the last 12 games of the ill-fated battle to stay in the Championship.
Like many of his senior colleagues Owen, a former Waterhead Warriors’ junior, watched on helplessly as his injury-ravaged squad, bolstered by young loan players who did marvellously well, put up a gallant battle against all odds, but just fell short when beaten at Swinton Lions in the penultimate game.
Club chairman Chris Hamilton said: “Gareth perhaps felt the pain (of relegation) more than most because he’s an Oldham lad and he was club captain.
“His freak injury and the freak way it happened – when he had been switched to full-back because we had already lost two full-backs to injury earlier in the game – just about summed up the sort of misfortune we had last season.
“He faces a long road to recovery because of the nature of his injury, but we were delighted when he made it abundantly clear that he wanted to remain a part of Oldham and this club next year.
“He is itching to get back and although he has a lot of work ahead of him, he’ll hopefully be back on the right track soon.”
It was in a midweek night game against Dewsbury Rams at Bower Fold last June that Owen, who was at Knowsley Primary with England RU star George Ford, went down in agony after making a try-saving tackle on the Roughyeds line. He had snapped a ligament in his foot, an unusual injury and one that required a rare operation.
His left foot is pinned, he’s still on crutches, and he’s been told it will be another five weeks before he can start walking again. He doesn’t expect to be running until January at the soonest.
Of his decision to stay with his home-town club, Owen, who previously made 36 Super League appearances for Salford Red Devils, said: “I’m really buzzing about it. As long as it was down to me, I was never going anywhere else.
“I feel I owe the club something. We’ll be out to get back up to the Championship at the first attempt — that’s the plan and we’ll be going for it.”