Welcome to the Oldham
Rugby League Heritage Trust
Website update coming soon!

The Oldham Rugby League Heritage trust was formed by a group of Oldham Rugby League Club supporters who first came together in 1995 to discuss those players to be inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame.

At the time it was realised that that in and around the town there were a number of people who owned items such as representative caps, medals and other important items of memorabilia won by and presented to Oldham players and officials down the years, some of whom wished to donate those items to the ‘Hall of Fame’.

To protect the ownership of this collection and at the same time ensure that it was kept available for generations of Oldhamers to come, the trust was formed.

As a result of the trust’s endeavours the people of Oldham now have access to one of the finest collections of rugby club memorabilia and historical information in the world.

Since 1995 there has been much and varied activity including four books being published, exhibitions organised, Oldham rugby related items purchased at auction, paintings commissioned, commemorative blue plaques organised and installed and streets in the Watersheddings’ area of town named in honour of former club players and officials.


Latest News

“Pass it on!” Preserving Oldham’s Rugby League Heritage for the next generation

The Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust has been awarded a generous grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The money will enable the Trust’s superb assortment of Rugby League memorabilia to be made more accessible than ever before. After work to catalogue and digitise the collections is complete they will be donated to Gallery Oldham who will safeguard the collection for future generations. The project is titled: “Pass it on!” Preserving Oldham’s Rugby League Heritage for the next generation.”

This unique collection has been brought together by the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust over many years and is recognised as being one of the most important rugby club memorabilia collections in the world in either code of the oval ball game. The collection will first be prepared for storage using packaging materials designed specifically to aid against deterioration. But that is not all… the items will be professionally photographed with the images added to a new, revamped website along with digitised copies of the Trust’s extensive collection of programmes, booklets, yearbooks etc.

This undertaking will be a lengthy exercise and the Trust will soon be seeking volunteers to aid in the packaging and scanning of documents. Anyone interested can contact the ORLHT - tel: 01457 810197 or email: oldhamrl1895@gmail.com.

Michael Turner of the ORLHT said – ‘The ultimate aim of this project is to make these items more accessible for the people of Oldham in particular and rugby league fans in general...’

Sean Baggaley, Senior Curator at Gallery Oldham said – ‘This is a fantastic project and I’m delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has supported it. It will enable the Trust to make one of the most generous donations to Gallery Oldham in our history. This will make an important addition to our collections and help to tell the story of the lives and passions of Oldhamers.’

The Trust has recently been active promoting their latest book “The Roughyeds’ Kitbag”. Published last October to rave reviews.

New book in production: The Roughyeds’ Kitbag

Due for release in October 2018, this is the latest and arguably the greatest publication from the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust.

Packed with facts, figures and images, the book deals with the running of the club during one of the darkest periods in the history of the country. View the flyer here and express your interest digitally by completing our survey here.

Book available: Roughyeds, Against all the odds! November 2017

A brand new book, reviewing the history of the club since 1997, for more details, read the PDF here.

book cover

RIP Dave Whitehead

It is with deep sadness that we have been informed of the sudden death of our dear friend, colleague and founder trustee Dave Whitehead. You can read Dave's obituariy in full here.

JUNE 2015

watersheddings whitebank cover

From Watersheddings to Whitebank - by Craig Halstead

ONE fan's memories, stories, anecdotes and recollections of joy and despair over more than 40 years form the basis of a new book on Oldham RLFC.

Several fantastic books have been penned about the club in recent years, but as far as we can ascertain this is the first one to be written from the perspective of a rank-and-file fan who might just as easily be chatting about his beloved Roughyeds to fellow fans over the bar of his favourite pub.

"From Watersheddings to Whitebank" (London League Publications Ltd, £11.95 paperback) is a collection of memoirs by Craig Halstead (48), who saw his first game at Watersheddings, aged five, in 1971. He has supported Roughyeds ever since.

A book of 208 pages, illustrated with photographs from family collections, from the Oldham Evening Chronicle's archives and from the Roughyeds' official club photographer David Murgatroyd, with a foreword by Chris Hamilton, the book provides an insight into how a lifetime of emotions and experiences, good and bad, can be fashioned for anyone who supports a club from childhood.

In the case of this new author, as with thousands of other Oldham fans, those experiences included the liquidation of one club and the birth and rise of a new one, like a phoenix from the ashes of Watersheddings, in the guise of Oldham RLFC (1997) Ltd.

The new club continues to provide the town with a professional rugby league club of which it can be justifiably proud.

The author, who has dedicated his work to Oldham RL fans past and present, says he is proud to have been associated with both Oldham clubs for all but the first five years of his life and proud also to be just as enthusiastic in his support of Chris, Scott and the boys at Whitebank in 2015 as he was in his backing for the old guard at Watersheddings in days of yore.

"From Watersheddings to Whitebank" is available at a special offer price of £10.95 post free in the UK from London League Publications Ltd, PO Box 65784, London NW2 9NS (credit card orders via www.llpshop.co.uk) or it can be ordered from any bookshop at £11.95 and is also available on Amazon.co.uk and Abebooks.co.uk. An E-book for Kindle readers is available on Amazon. ISBN: 9781909885080.

APRIL 2015

Tries and Conversions – South African Rugby League Players by Peter Lush and Hendrik Snyders with a contribution from the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust

Back in 1910 James Megson and William Mart became the first native- born South Africans to sign for British Rugby League clubs. Since then, South African players have made a significant contribution to our sport. This just published book is the first comprehensive study of their involvement in rugby league. It covers players who played in Great Britain and Australia; some very successfully but others who never quite adapted to a switch in codes but regardless all their stories are covered. Prinsloo, Vollenhoven, Killeen, Lake are names that still trip off the tongue of those of us of an age and as Oldham supporters many of us will remember John Winton, Green Vigo and more recently Jamie Bloem pulling on the red and white shirt.

The book also covers the development of rugby league in South Africa in the early 1960s, the Springbok’s tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1963 and later Southern Africa’s World Cup participation.

The section of the book surrounding former Rhodesian international full back John Winton has been written by The Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust. Signed by the Watersheddings club from Wigan midway through the 1964-65 season when Oldham’s player-coach and full back Frank Dyson wanted to coach more and play less, Winton, a great goal kicker, made his debut in an Oldham side which during that season contributed no less than six players to the county side and 13,800 turned out to watch the home league match against Swinton. Oldham just a few seasons earlier could rightly claim to be one of the best club sides in the world and now appeared once again to be on the up. Top-of-the-tree rugby league, though, was still a part-time sport Winton combining his rugby with running a second hand car dealership in Wigan in partnership with his former team mate Trevor Lake!

This is a book which will be of interest to all rugby followers of both codes, and readers interested in the development of sport. Published by London League Publications and available on-line from www.llpshop.co.uk at £13.95 post free in UK.

tries book

tries photo

The Oldham team at St. Helens on May 5th 1966 with John Winton seen on the extreme right of the back row.



Published by the Oldham RL Heritage Trust

Taking you back to when Oldham was king of the RL world, the book is packed with photograhs and the unfolding storywith of the single most sucessful decade the club has ever known.

The book cover all the matches from the first game of 1950 straight through to the last game of 1959.

The book can be purchased directly from the Trust.


12th JULY 2013



John Ravitale had a brief spell with the Roughyeds in 1969.

As part of the Fijians In RL Project, we would like to gather more information on him.

The Oldham RL Heritage Trust would be glad to know if anyone has any further information. Please contact: oldhamrl1895@gmail.com


5th JULY 2013


The Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust has been contacted regarding the above project to see if we could be of any assistance.
Although there has been a Fijian presence at various Rugby League clubs in the last fifty years, it is with “Hornets” that they are most readily associated. However, within the ranks of the”Roughyeds” we have had the brothers, Tom and Joe Nadiole. Both of these Huddersfield based players come from Fijian parentage, their father (also Tom) was one of the first wave of Fijian players who signed for Huddersfield in 1964.

The Oldham RL Heritage Trust would be glad to know if anyone has any further information on this subject. Please contact: oldhamrl1895@gmail.com

The Fijians will be in action in the forthcoming 2013 RL World Cup. The take on Ireland in their "home town" at Spotland Stadium on 28th October. The game is heading towards a sell-out and if you are going make sure you buy your ticket at the earliest opertunity


15th JUNE 2013



Click here, or on image for full size photo

In tandem with the supporters' trust Rugby Oldham, the Oldham RL Heritage Trust gave it's full support to Mahdlo's promotion of the forthcoming World Cup tournament to be held in the UK this autumn. The trophy itself was on display at Mahdlo the new youngsters' activity centre recently opened in the centre of Oldham and which is headed by Terry Flanagan the former Oldham and Great Britain Lion.

The current England captain Kevin Sinfield was there in person to promote the event despite playing just the night before in the defeat of the Exiles a match in which he broke his thumb!

There was lots of rugby league activity organised for and by the kids who turned out in numbers. Oldham Roughyeds sent along a posse of players watched over by the club's mascot Roary the Lion. Most of the local amateur clubs also sent along groups of their junior players, the Oldham Former Players Association had a presence and a potted history of the World Cup was provided by the Heritage Trust.

It was a red-hot success. full marks to Mahdlo. If this typical of the promotional activity the World Cup will go with a big bang!

17th MAY 2013


A surprise visitor (albeit a welcome one) to Hemel Stags’ Pennine Way Sports Ground last Sunday (12th May 2013) was Oldham’s former Great Britain loose-forward Dave Parker. The Roughyeds were in town for a Championship One game against the Stags which they duly won 30-12.

Dave has lived locally to Hemel Hempstead for a number of years but was born in Barrow-in-Furness. The ball-playing forward signed for Oldham in 1960 on the recommendation of the then Oldham coach Gus Risman who had watched him playing for the Manchester RU club having captained the Lancashire County RU XV.

He played 198 first team matches for the Watersheddings side including the Challenge Cup semi-final against Hull KR at Leeds in 1964 when he suffered a facial injury and missed the ensuing two replays. Many supporters believe that it was this injury that cost Oldham their first ever Wembley appearance. When asked to cast his memory back to that match Dave said that because of the injury which drastically affected his vision he missed spotting his wingman steaming up on his flank with the line at his mercy and which he believes, should the pass have gone out, would have won Oldham the tie and removed the necessity for any replays.

The former personnel director of what was then Oldham’s biggest employers - Platt Bros - played twice for Great Britain, both matches in 1964 against the French as well as representing Lancashire at league. 

Belying his years Dave, who played squash until a couple of years ago, and whilst heading for the clubhouse to renew acquaintances passed on his best wishes to all Oldham folk.


16th MAY 2013

Heading For The Line - A Fans Guide To Rugby League Grounds - New Book By Michael Miles

This fine book by Michael Miles includes details of every ground in the Rugby League including Whitebank covering how to get there, food availability, crowd capacity (given as 1,000 for Whitebank), admission prices and much more. Ray French writes a fascinating foreword including his amusing recollections surrounding Watersheddings!

Over the past few years, there have been many changes for rugby league supporters travelling to away matches and visiting new grounds. Some of the game’s historic venues, such as Knowsley Road, Wilderspool and The Willows, are no longer in use. Gleaming new stadiums have sprung up in their place. And some new clubs have joined the professional game. There are also new venues for international matches.

This book aims to provide information for supporters visiting new grounds and old favourites.

Information about the book:
ISBN:  9781903659670; Price: £7.95 (paperback); 120 pages, illustrated with photographs.
The book is available at a special offer price of £7.50 post free from London League Publications Ltd, PO Box 65784, London NW2 9NS (credit card orders via www.llpshop.co.uk), or can be ordered from any bookshop at £7.95.

p/p LLP PO Box 65784, London NW2 9NS

15th MAY 2013

Balls, Gloves and Glory - New Book By Eric Chisnall & Andrew Quirke

Recently publshed ‘Balls, Gloves and Glory’ is the biography of the four Chisnall brothers, three of whom (Eric, Dave and Les) lifted the Challenge Cup with St Helens, Warrington and Leigh while the fourth, Dave, became a successful boxer.

A family feat such as this is hardly likely to be repeated. The publshers were approached by ‘Genes Reunited’ (a genealogy website) who asked if they could make a short film about the brothers to highlight the siblings’ sporting excellence. The film featuring the surviving brothers, Eric and Les, is now complete and available to view on Youtube. The link for the video is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOjdrKYIbGc

The video is a fascinating extra to the story, showing the Chisnall brothers’ rise to rugby league excellence from humble beginnings.

Availabilty - From good book shops, St Helens club store, online retailers and verticaleditions.com - priced just £11.99

10th April 2013

Jamie Bloem BookIn full Bloem
Jamie Bloem – Rugby Footballer

By Andrew Hardcastle

From being a young South African rugby union player, Jamie Bloem developed into a star rugby league player. From 1992 to 2005 he played every position on the field in a career that took in Castleford, Oldham, Doncaster, Widnes and Huddersfield, but primarily Halifax. He later became a coach, commentator and Grade 1 referee.

He was never far from the headlines, be it for drug taking, an accusation of biting Lee Briers, charges of abusing referees, declining pay cuts, or even sometimes for scoring spectacular tries or kicking touchline goals.

In this authorised biography, he lifts the lid on everything that has happened to him, giving a frank account of when he was in the wrong and when he was not.

Andrew Hardcastle has had a lifelong association with Halifax RLFC, where he is club historian and timekeeper. He has written widely about the game.

AVAILABLE TO ORDER FROM ALL GOOD BOOK SHOPS or order on line at www.llpshop.co.uk


15th March 2013 - New contact email for the Trust

The trust has a new dedicated email address for any future enquires or other help you may need. Please contact us on oldhamrl1895@gmail.com


17th Feb 2013 - Jamie Dallimore wins the Hertiage Trust Trophy

Oldham won the bragging rights for the next twelve months with a hard fought 22-20 victory over Rochdale at Spotland.

Jamie Dallimore was presented with the Heritage Trust Trophy by Michael Turner for his sparking all round display


3rd Jan 2013 - The George Hotel Huddersfield


Sadly, the above exhibition has closed due to the George Hotel, Huddersfield entering administration. Mike Stephenson is confident that the exhibition will re-open at a new venue in the very near future. All articles loaned to the exhibition by the Oldham RL Heritage Trust have been removed but we too are confident that we will enter into a new agreement with Mike which will result in a show both bigger and better than when at the George!


20th October 2012 - Art In Rugby Exhibition comes to a successful conclusion.


Gallery Oldham’s doors have now been closed on both the Oldham RL Heritage Trust’s Art in Rugby and the Oldham Sporting Heroes’ exhibitions. The reviews have been great and the foot-traffic even higher than expected with some people visiting two or three times. The ribbon was cut by local MP Debbie Abrahams back in July before a packed house which included a number of Oldham’s Team GB athletes along with Dorothy Shirley-Emerson who won silver in the 1960 Rome Olympics. Oldham RFLC chairman Chris Hamilton was in attendance along with current Roughyeds’ prop-forward Liam Gilchrist who proved to be the star of the show entering a couple of his superb metal sculptures!

3rd September 2012 - Baseball, Cricket & Greyhounds at Watersheddings


Throughout September the Local Interest Centre is running an exhibition celebrating Baseball, Cricket and Greyhound Racing, which took place at the former home of Oldham RL, Watersheddings.

As part of the celebration of sport in Oldham the Local Interst Centre requested the assistance of the Oldham RL Heritage Trust to help research and put together the exhibition, Calling on our vast knowledge of the history of Watersheddings we were able to help put together the display boards and provide the required background on the sports held there.

The exhibition runs from the 3rd - 29th September in the Local Interest Centre, Greaves St, Oldham

2012 Exhibition - Starts Saturday 14th July 2012 until 20th October 2012


Art in Rugby is an exhibition celebrating the history of Oldham’s rugby league club by featuring a selection of the Trust’s fascinating collection of paintings, sculptures, and photographs. The exhibition opens at Gallery Oldham on Saturday 14th of July in tandem with the fabulous Oldham’s Sporting Heroes exhibition which is featured in the adjoining gallery. The MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, Debbie Abrahams, will proclaim both events open when she cuts the tape at 1pm.

The exhibition takes a tour through the club’s history and touches on both the triumphs and failures throughout the years. The exhibits will encompass the work from artists of local, national and international repute and reflects the game from its Victorian beginnings right up to the present day. From the grandeur of “The Roses Match” painted by academy artist W. B. Wollen in 1893 to a collection of watercolours depicting Oldham players through the ages by Stephen Bennett and historic moments in the club’s history from the brush of Lincolnshire artist Steve ‘Smiff’ Smith plus other works by local artists including Bob Littleford, Andy Pemberton, David Ford and former Waterhead RLFC player Kevin Haynes along with a collection of cartoons by Norman Taylor

Sculptures on display include works from the renowned Mackenzie Thorpe and current Oldham player Liam Gilchrist! It all adds up to a feast of artistic diversity connected with the oval ball game.

This unique collection has been brought together by the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust, and is recognised as being a selection from one of the most important rugby club memorabilia collections in the world – both codes.

Art in Rugby is on display in the Community Gallery of Gallery Oldham and runs through to the 20th of October.  Gallery Oldham is situated on Greaves Street off Union St. OL1 1AL. The gallery is open Monday to Saturday and admission is free. For further information regarding Gallery Oldham visit http://www.galleryoldham.org.uk/ or for the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust
www.orl-heritagetrust.org.uk or ‘phone 01457 875084.


Jan 2012 - Trust purchases the Doug Phillips Tour Collection

We are pleased to announce that the Trust has now completed the purchase of Doug Phillips's kits from the 1946 & 1950 tours to Australia & New Zealand. The collection includes his jumpers, shorts and socks, along with his tour caps. In addition we also obtained some other shirts and items associated with the tour.

There will be a full anouncement in the press and websites in the near future.



The Indomitables - The 1946 Rugby League Lions tour to Australia and New Zealand - New book now available

The 1946 Rugby League Lions tour to Australia and New Zealand is a remarkable story. It marked the relaunch of international rugby league in a world still devastated by the Second World War. It was also a great success for the Lions, as they won the Ashes and were the first team to be unbeaten in an Ashes series, despite an infamous sending-off in the first test.
The players travelled to Australia on the Aircraft Carrier HMS Indomitable. They faced a gruelling schedule, playing 20 games in Australia in two months, and a further seven in New Zealand.................

The book features Oldham's Doug Phillip's famous tour diary in full....

See here how to buy this book


The King of Brilliance: James Lomas – A Rugby League Superstar - New book now available

Born in the west Cumbrian town of Maryport, James ‘Jimmy’ Lomas was one of the Northern Union’s earliest stars. Its first tour captain in 1910, one journalist claimed that ‘when Lomas was on the field you never noticed anybody else.’ Playing at stand-off or centre, he was a prolific point scorer, his career total of 2,312 constituting a record for the code at the time of his retirement in 1923. Following a world record transfer to Oldham in 1911.........

See here how to buy this book


2012 Exhibition

The Heritage Trust will be holding an exhibition running in the Community Gallery in Gallery Oldham, from 14th July to 23rd September 2012. Featuring some of the previously unseen works of art and images in the Trust's collection, it is hoped to be a taster for a full exhibition to follow shortly after.

We will post further details nearer the time of the exhibition.


2011 Exhibition - The George Hotel,Huddersfield -


Why not visit the renowned George Hotel in Huddersfield - the birthplace of rugby league – and venue to the excellent Rugby League Heritage Centre where there is a permanent display depicting the history of the Roughyeds? Sponsored by Gillette the centre plots the history of the sport and its personalities using plasma screens and state-of-the-art graphics punctuated by items that makes up a most magnificent memorabilia collection.

Click here to see the "Exhibitions" page








190 A4 pages - Packed with facts, figures and images, the book, hardback and in full colour, deals with the running of the club during one of the darkest periods in the history of the country.

Read how just finding 13 players to pull on the jersey became a major struggle with so many of the club’s personnel away in the services. The poignant letters home from players and officials writing from the trenches - filled with hope and despair!

How the mood of the country changed as the “home before Christmas” attitude gave way to the realisation that the conflict would endure for years.

The bravery and sadness as some players were honoured and others were lost.

View the flyer here to obtain your copy please email the Trust by clicking here.

This hard backed book is priced at £20 and is available to buy directly from the Trust. Send a cheque for £20 made payable to: The Oldham RL Heritage Trust to 9, Dumfries Drive, Denshaw, Oldham, OL3 5SG (Delivery free to Oldham postcodes. Please add £3.50 for P&P for addresses outside the Oldham area).





Published by the Oldham RL Heritage Trust
OLDHAM RLFC IN THE 50s - MAGIC OR MYTH?In the summer of 1957 Oldham were rugby league champions. They had seen off the mighty Hull club in that season’s Championship final at Odsal before 62,217 paying customers, having already bagged the Lancashire Cup and Lancashire League championship.

OLDHAM R.L.F.C. IN THE 1950’s MAGIC OR MYTH? This an offering from Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust is a review of every match the club played in that fondly remembered decade, spread over 300 x A4 pages and brought to life with a fantastic array of images, many seen for the first time.




Also Available

click here for details






Jamie Bloem Book