Quantum Leap for Roughyeds
Oldham RL Club's youth plan took a quantum leap today with the signing of 19-year-old St Anne's and Lancashire prop Ben Marsden.
Super League clubs Huddersfield Giants and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats had also shown an interest in the young Oldhamer, who has joined Roughyeds on a two-year contract to follow a path taken by his father, Bob, 25 years ago.
Bob Marsden, also a prop, began his professional career at Watersheddings and went on to play for Rochdale Hornets, Salford and Huddersfield where he ended his career as a full-time pro.
Another link with Oldham RL Club's past is provided by the club's former Great Britain star Mick Worrall --- Ben's uncle.
Describing Ben as a "top prospect", Roughyeds chairman Chris Hamilton said: "This is a real coup for us, given that we have been competing with Super League clubs to get Ben's signature.
"He had been over to Huddersfield and he had also been training at Wakefield.
"John Hough, our reserve team coach, got a tip that he might be available so we spoke to Ben and his father and after two or three weeks of negotiations the signing was completed this week."
Marsden captained St Anne's under-18s last season, won several player-of-the-year awards and played three times for Lancashire under-19s, winning a man-of-the-match award on one occasion when a Wakefield scout invited him to Belle Vue.
"Wakefield were interested," said Bob, "but Chris (Hamilton) came straight in with a two-year offer and both Ben and I were impressed with Oldham's approach and the professional manner in which they conducted the talks.
"We also took into account that Wakefield is getting on for a 100-mile round trip and to do that three or four times a week is a massive commitment.
"Finally, there is a lot to be said for signing for your home-town club, as I know from personal experience. I was as proud as punch when I did it, and I am just as proud for Ben now. It's brilliant. I'm buzzing about it because he now has the opportunity to show what he can do at professional level in his home-town colours.
"It will be a great experience for him, and a great grounding in what life as a professional is all about. It's also on the doorstep, and that counts for a lot.
"I know Roughyeds have had their ups and downs but life is tough for all clubs these days and hopefully they are ready to move forward."
Of the 32 players now contracted to Roughyeds, 16 are aged 21 or under, namely Danny Whitmore, Ben Mellor, Kashley Watkins, Joe Chandler, Jack Graves, Ben Heaton, Chris Clarke, Scott Mansfield, Mark Smith, Michael Ward, Austen Barrowclough, Jacob Kinney, Ross Coates, Luke Rhoden, Mike Priest and Ben Marsden.