It is with deep sadness that we report the death of former Oldham forward, John Fairbank, at the age of 55.
One of the well-known rugby league-playing Fairbank family of Elland, John joined Oldham from Leeds as part of the deal that took Hugh Waddell to Headingley in 1988.
He won amateur international honours at Elland before joining Leeds where his father, Jack, had played before him and was a member of the Leeds team that won the Championship for the first time in 1961.
He came to Oldham early in the 1988-89 season making his debut against Featherstone on September 11th, 1988. In just over two years at Watersheddings, John made a total of 52 appearances (31 starts and 21 off the bench) and scored 11 tries.
His brother Mark also played briefly for the Roughyeds during the 1986-87 season.
John was a tough-as-teak prop forward with a good turn of pace for a big man.
I remember him scoring a try and having a storming match against his home town club when the Roughyeds beat Halifax 14 – 3 in front of a crowd of just under 7,ooo, under the Watersheddings lights in October 1989 and going over for a dramatic, last-minute winner at Doncaster a month later.
John was a substitute in the Lancashire Cup final and Challenge Cup semi-final in the 1989-90 season both of which were lost to Warrington.
The condolences of the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust and, I’m sure all of the Oldham R.L. community, are sent out to John’s family and friends and everyone at Elland ARLFC where John returned in a coaching role and is remembered as a much valued and respected member of the West Yorkshire club’s staff.