It is with great sadness that the Heritage Trust heard the news that one of our former coaches, Mick Coates, has died suddenly at the age of 61 after being taken ill while out riding his bike in Mossley.
He was assistant coach to Paddy Kirwan for the Roughyeds in 1998 and became head coach the following season and as such was heavily involved in the early days of the reformed club.
A massive loss to the whole of the Oldham Rugby League community it will of course be felt mostly at Saddleworth Rangers where Mick played and coached with distinction and served loyally for many years. Mick devoted much of his life to Rangers and his passing will be felt deeply at Shaw Hall Bank Road.
The sincere condolences of the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust are sent to all of Mick’s family and friends.
The Infirmary Cup (Law Cup) was first contested between Oldham and Rochdale Hornets in May 1921. The trophy was donated by the Rochdale MP, the Right Hon A. J. Law with the proceeds of the match being given over to the infirmaries in the two towns.
After a 0 – 0 draw at the Athletic Grounds on May 7th, Oldham became the first recipients by winning the replay 12 – 2 at Watersheddings on May 13th with Joe Ferguson the first winning captain to hold the cup aloft.The competition would subsequently become a pre or early season event and when, as in 1954 and 1976, the match ended in a draw the cup was retained by the current holders.
Watch this space for further updates and Law Cup facts.
The above article was posted on the Heritage Trusts’ news page back in August 2020 with a further piece being added on January 17th of this year in anticipation of the match going ahead.
Alas, just three weeks later the news broke that, understandably in the current conditions, the match had been put on hold for twelve months.
However, with the centenary date now with us here are a few more Law Cup facts to add to the information posted in January.
The biggest winning margin was forty points when Oldham triumphed 53 – 13 at Watersheddings in 1961 with the Hornets best effort resulting in a 42 – 8 victory at Spotland in 2006.
Tommy Rees and Jack Read hold the Oldham record for the number of appearances with eleven each. Over more or less the same time period, Tommy was the full back in consecutive Law Cup games from 1928 until 1938 inclusive, while Jack was in the front row on eleven occasions between 1926 and 1938.
In those matches Tommy knocked over 33 goals but that’s not the record. Needless to say that honour goes to the “Great Ganley”. Bernard sent 37 efforts between the post in eight consecutive Law Cup games between 1952 and 1959 which also gives him the most points with 74.
Two more Oldham players got into double figures for goals; John Noon 15 and John Blair 10.
The honour for most goals in one match goes to Frank Dyson with nine successes in the 39 – 7 victory in 1964.
This also represents the best ‘points in a match’ haul.
Five Oldham players have scored five tries in Law Cup games: Ernie Large, Alan Davies, Frank Pitchford, Len McIntyre and Geoff Robinson, with Frank’s four in 1961 the most in a single match.
Since the value of the score was devalued to one point in 1974, only two Oldham players have scored a drop goal in the Law Cup. Jim Fiddler in 1979 and Lewis Palfrey in 2016.
Since 1999 the Karl Marriott Memorial Trophy has been awarded to the Rochdale ‘player of the match’ in memory of Karl, a popular Hornets’ player who died tragically in October 1998 aged just 28.
The Heritage Trust Trophy was introduced in 2004 with the award going to the Oldham ‘player of the match’.
The first recipient was Ian Watson with Danny Langtree the most recent winner in 2020.