Gareth Walker turns his close-season attention to signings in Betfred League 1
Two weeks ago, this column picked out half-a-dozen eye-catching signings in the Betfred Championship since the end of last season.
Clubs in the third tier have been just as active, and ambitious, as their counterparts, with six captures in particular setting down markers for 2022.
Martyn Ridyard (Swinton to Oldham) – pictured
There is plenty of interest in the few miles that separate local rivals Oldham, Swinton and Rochdale for next year, with Ridyard’s switch from the Lions to Roughyeds being one of them.
It shouldn’t have come as a major surprise, given his close association with new coach Stuart Littler, and the pair’s working relationship will play a big part in Oldham’s fortunes next year.
Ridyard is vastly experienced at the top end of the second tier, so despite now being 35 years old, he will be an invaluable addition as Littler’s side looks to bounce straight back into the Championship.
Gregg McNally (Whitehaven to Rochdale Hornets)
The 2021 campaign was undoubtedly a disappointment for Rochdale, as the club missed out on the play-offs amid a host of injuries to key players throughout the year.
But the club has put its faith in coach Matt Calland for next year and backed him with a major addition in the shape of playmaker McNally, who has spent his entire career at a higher level.
The Ireland international was a key figure in Whitehaven’s outstanding run to the Championship play-offs and will add an extra dimension to Calland’s attack wherever he slots in.
Connor Robinson (Halifax Panthers to Doncaster)
Another player who drops down from the Championship is Robinson, who knows all about what it takes to be successful in the third tier.
The Hull Kingston Rovers junior was the League 1 Player of the Year as York City Knights won promotion in 2018, steering James Ford’s impressive side around the field from scrum-half.
That came either side of two spells at Halifax, and the experience he gained there will prove a major asset for Richard Horne as he looks to go one better than the Dons’ play-off final defeat in 2022.
Dan Abram (Oldham to Swinton Lions)
While Martyn Ridyard has gone from Swinton to Oldham, heading in the opposite direction is another key creative player in Dan Abram.
Having also played extensively for Rochdale, he will be another with plenty of local derbies to relish next year, and he proved in his time at Whitehaven that he has the nerve for clutch plays in crunch clashes.
Abram’s versatility will also be useful to coach Allan Coleman and his combinations with the likes of Jack Hansen integral to their prospects.
Josh Jordan-Roberts (Rochdale Hornets to Hunslet)
Hunslet finished last season fuelled with renewed hope under Alan Kilshaw, despite dropping out of the play-offs, and the signing of Jordan-Roberts is one of several reasons for continued optimism.
The Leeds Rhinos product had a brief spell on loan at the South Leeds club in 2018 and has since spent time at York and Rochdale, where his intelligent line-running causes problems for opposition defences.
With another backrower Jordan Syme having made the same close-season switch from Hornets, Hunslet should have plenty of threat on the edges in 2022.
Lewis Young (Newcastle Thunder to Keighley Cougars)
Fullback Lewis Young has been one of the most dangerous attacking players at this level for several years, primarily at Newcastle Thunder but also on loan with Hunslet last year.
In total that has seen him score 73 tries in 108 appearances, the kind of strike record from the back that should prove a major asset for Cougars coach Rhys Lovegrove.
The League 1 Young Player of the Year in 2017, Young is returning to Yorkshire after having started at Redhill as a junior, and will be one to keep track of next season.
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