Another Home Town Lad Joins the Ranks
Oldham RL Club have added to their ever-growing group of locally-born players with the capture of winger John Gillam on a one-year agreement.
The 25-year-old former Blackpool and Rochdale player, reared at Royton Tigers and Oldham St Anne's, becomes the third experienced Oldhamer to join his home-town club in the past few days after Mick Fogerty (28) and Mark Brocklehurst (23).
All three were at Rochdale last year and all three made their Oldham debuts in a 54-16 pre-season friendly defeat at Batley yesterday when centre Fogerty crowned his first game in a Roughyeds jersey by scoring two tries.
Fans were unaware of Roughyeds' interest in Gillam, who won Great Britain under-21 honours as an amateur, until he appeared as a second-half substitute at Mount Pleasant on the left wing.
After the game the club confirmed that he had signed on a similar arrangement to those with Fogerty and Brocklehurst.
"He is a very good athlete and we are delighted to get John on board," said coach Tony Benson.
"He is very intense in everything he does and he has a fair turn of speed. He contacted me some time ago but at that stage I wasn't looking for a winger.
"He came to train with our reserves, like Mick Fogerty and Mark Brocklehurst, and not only did he fit in very quickly but he was very fast in picking up the sort of things we were striving to do."
Gillam first turned pro for Blackpool Panthers in 2008, but it isn't widely known that he came close to joining Oldham's paid ranks when he was 19 and playing as an amateur in the Roughyeds academy team, then coached by Sean Gartland. Head coach at the time was Steve Molloy.
"They made me an offer and I was going to sign," recalled John, "but it never happened. I can't remember why. I'm glad it's happened now though. It will be great to represent Oldham.
"It looked at one stage as though I would be signing for Rochdale again. They made me an offer but I didn't think it was right for me.
"I went back to play for St Anne's for a short while, but then Brocky (Mark Brocklehurst) told me he was training with the reserves at Oldham so I spoke to John Hough and things have moved on from there.
"First-team training on Thursday was very intense and that's how I like it. They are a good set of lads and I think we can have a good season.
"It was frustrating to lose our first game at Batley, but it got rid of a few cobwebs and I thought we did okay considering the Bulldogs had played twice previously. That makes a big difference."
Outside rugby John works at Saddleworth School with special needs children and he is studying part-time for a degree in teaching.