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Wednesday, 23 May, 2001, 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK
Ford pushes Oldham's claims
Mike Ford in action for Oldham (©
Ford: "We have the ambition for the Super League."
By BBC Sport's David Woods

Oldham coach Mike Ford has made a plea from the heart to Super League's bosses: "Give us promotion, we deserve it!"

Ford, rated as one of the best British coaches in the NFP, has watched with growing frustration as speculation continues to link Leigh and Widnes with a leap into rugby league's elite next season.

We'll finish second if we win all our games, and we are there on merit.
  Mike Ford

And the former Wigan and Castleford scrum-half can take it no longer.

"It's very frustrating. Every paper you pick up, it's Widnes and Leigh for the Super League. What have we done wrong?" he said.

"Has anyone looked at the tables? We'll finish second if we win all our games, and we are there on merit.

"Oldham is a rugby league town; our amateur and schoolboy set up is superb; we've got fantastic facilities; our stadium is a 14,000 all-seater; and a new £600,000 pitch is about to be laid.

"It's very annoying when we get over-looked. We have the ambition and facilities for Super League. Unfortunately we don't seem to be as fashionable as Leigh and Widnes."

Name change

Oldham were one of the original Super League clubs, entertaining the likes of Paris and London at their original Watersheddings ground before moving home to share Oldham Athletic football club's Boundary Park.

Relegation came in the second year of the new summer season, when they finished below Paris St Germain.

For a while, their future looked uncertain, with the club facing financial ruin outside the top-flight. But new owners brought a new settled future for the club.

I've got players who can compete at the top level
  Mike Ford
They even changed their name from the Oldham Bears, adopted for the Super League, back to the Oldham Roughyeads, their historic nickname.

Now Ford wants them back in the big-time.

"We'd have to strengthen considerably, unless Super League gave us three years grace without relegation, then I'd throw a lot of youngsters into the job," he said.

"But I've got players who can compete at the top level."

And he wouldn't shed a tear if it meant replacing Huddersfield in the Super League, after their three years of failure.

"This year they've just set the record for the most consecutive defeats - 11 on the trot," he said.

"They have the stadium and a wealthy backer, that's all that keeps them up there. It's time Oldham were given another chance."

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