Coached by Barries old mate, and twice Leeds star, Gary Mercer's Oldham were late replacements after the Bulls gave backword on a long arranged fixture. The Bulls game, arranged for the 25th January, was planned as a decent run out for the first team squad ahead of the World Club Challenge and would have been a brialliant money spinner for the big man. A tuesday night crowd of 10k+ could have been expected for the Grand Final replay, but Bradford pulled ot and left Barrie and his testimonial committee searching for a replacement fixture.|
At the time, all of the other Superleague clubs had already arranged all of their friendly fixtures and none were keen to squeeze in another game at Headingley where a wallopping from the Champions might have set back their Superleague X preparation.
Into the breach stepped the courageous Oldham, daring to tread where Superleague sides wouldn't. At the time they agreed to the fixture, the team that finished fourth in National League One last season didn't even have enough registered players to fulfil the fixture, but Barries home town team came through.
Early team news seems to hint that only Barrie and Gareth Ellis will represent the regular first teamers, with the kids making up the rest of the side. It should be a fairly even contest, with Smith saving his big guns for the visit of London next week. With the hastily scheduled fixture against the London Broncos now taking place on the 25th, I expect Smith to play close to his first choice WCC side in that game.
Barrie needs your support, and the brave Oldham deserve your admiration for stepping into the breach and saving Barries testimonial game. I hope that it is a fantastic turnout for the big man, but I guess that he'd be happy with anything over five thousand. Match preview to follow later in the week.