What have top-selling international rock bands like Coldplay, the Foo Fighters and REM got in common? They are all doing their bit to help save cash-strapped Oldham Rugby Leage Club.
The driving force behind the extraordinary fundraising venture is 41-year-old Graham Lambert. The former Inspiral Carpets’ guitarist read about the Roughyeds’ financial woes in the Advertiser last year and decided to use his new job to help out.
Now working as an events manager for SJM Concerts, Graham is regularly on the road ensuring top bands’ needs are met when they tour the UK. After getting his hands on some replica shirts through friend and club stalwart Gareth Barber, he delivered handwritten notes pleading with some of music’s biggest names for help.
The resulting collection of four unique shirts has gone on internet auction website ‘eBay’ this week to raise cash for the National League One club’s survival fund – which is still £35,000 short of its target.Scouthead-based Graham, a keen Latics’ fan, said: "I don’t have much of a rugby background but always look for Oldham’s results, and my dad was a big fan.
"The owner of SJM is Simon Moran, who also happens to own Warrington RL, so I’m sure the boss will approve. He has put his hands in his pockets to make a big difference to that town, which is similar to what Chris Hamilton has had to do here in Oldham.
"It’s taken some time – you can’t just barge into Coldplay’s dressing room before a gig – so I wrote letters explaining the situation and they accompany each shirt to authenticate it."
Three shirts are individually signed by Coldplay, REM and the Kaiser Chiefs, while the fourth is signed by The La’s, The Zutons and the Foo Fighters.
All have a reserve price of £100 and fans can view them and submit bids online at www.ebay.com until next Thursday, January 19.
Chris Hamilton, Roughyeds’ chairman, said: "When Gareth Barber mentioned this I wondered if it would really come off, but it has. We always do pretty well with shirt sales but these are something else and we’re hoping there’ll be lots of interest."
And Lambert also revealed that the Inspirals – who last toured in 2003, showcasing hits like ‘This Is How It Feels’ and ‘Saturn 5’ for the first time since 1994 – could reform for more gigs this year.
"Never say never," he said. "We’re due to have a band meeting later this month, which we do annually to look ahead. We might very well do something again this year, so watch this space!"
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