OLDHAM Rugby League Club’s long-serving captain Gareth Owen has signed a new one-year contract, at the end of which he will have been at his home-town club for seven and a half seasons, five of them as captain.
Having joined Roughyeds from Salford Red Devils, where he had played 38 Super League games, Moorside-based Owen, 28, wore Oldham colours for the first time in a 24-23 home win against Hunslet on July 27, 2014.
Only two more who played that day, forwards Phil Joy and Danny Langtree, are still at the club.
Owen, an automatic choice ever since, has chalked up 137 appearances, suffering a Grand Final defeat in 2014 and relegation in 2017 but, on the flip side, enjoying promotion in 2015 and 2019.
He said: “I’m buzzing. So long as the decision was mine, I wasn’t going anywhere. I only want to play for Oldham.
“We look to be getting a good squad together and we seem to be investing in a big, mobile pack which will help Wilky (Matthew Wilkinson) and me and hopefully set the platform for the backs to do the rest.”
Head coach Matt Diskin, himself a hooker in his playing days, said of Owen: “He’s passionate about the club, the team and the town and when a local lad cares like that and has the experience and the ability that Gaz has, he is obviously a very important member of team and club.”
Roughyeds now have 11 players signed up for 2021 – new boys Tyler Dupree, Luke Nelmes, Martyn Reilly and Tommy Brierley, plus Lewis Charnock and Matthew Fletcher who are on two-year deals, plus Danny Langtree, Matty Wilkinson, Dave Hewitt, Cam Leeming and Owen who have all agreed new deals.
Meanwhile, Greenfield’s Harry Aaronson, Oldham Rugby League Club’s winger, has retired to devote his time and energies to a new full-time job in recruitment.
The 22-year-old former Saddleworth Rangers winger will be based in Leeds and will still be at his desk on mid-week evenings when Roughyeds start training.
“The way things are at present I can’t commit to anything outside work hours,” said Aaronson, who played 11 senior games for his home-town club after arriving on loan from Swinton in May last year.
He added: “The job will involve long hours and late finishes and it will have to take priority. For now, I’ve got to commit everything to the job.
“If I’ve time on my hands at weekend I might get a game at Saddleworth, but there’s no way I can commit professionally. It was a tough decision, but it was the right one.
“I loved my year at Oldham and I wish the boys all the best in 2021 and beyond.”
Aaronson scored four tries in nine games while on loan last year and then, having signed a contract for 2020, played in the first two games of this ill-fated Covid-19 campaign against Widnes at Bower Fold and in France against Toulouse.
He recently graduated with a degree in social policy from the University of Leeds.