Longtime Roughyed fan , Mike Dunkerley, has sent the following poem to the Heritage Trust with memories of Watersheddings and the 1950s team.
HAPPY DAYS AT ‘SHEDDINGS
Of Rugby men, a game called League, the best there’s ever been,
Roughyeds in the fifties were the greatest team on earth,
They battered opposition for all that they were worth,
Ken Jackson, Keith and Dufty and Charlie Winslade too,
They played up front and got stuck in like no one else could do,
And when it came to kicking goals then Bernard was the best,
The red and white, those well-known hoops, worn proudly on his chest,
There were many famous others who played up on the hill
But the Prince was Alan Davies, a man remembered still,
The Penny Rush, Committee Seats the Stand on Herbert Street,
All witnessed opposition who left the field well beat,
The pitch was mud, the crowds were big, some twenty thousand often,
Saw Turner, Vines and Little the opposition soften,
And not forgetting Kellett, Johnny Noon, Vince Nestor too,
Attacking backs with ball in hand who knew just what to do,
Cracknell, Ayres and Etty were members of the team
With Pitchford, Stirrup, Daley some others on the scene
They made the breaks and scored the tries like no one else could do.
The crowd all cheered their local team, and waved their rattles too,
There was no Sky or BT Sport, ‘twas a game not often seen,
Less Uncle Eddie from the Beeb just happened on the screen,
The players played for peanuts, a few quid heaven sent,
Trained twice a week, then had a pint, and back to work they went,
Sometimes there were bonuses, some extras in their boots,
But they still turned up in working clothes, not fancy sponsored suits
There was no sport on Sundays it was then against the law
So they played a game on Christmas Day and Boxing Day and more
And New Year’s Day had fixtures but the team did not complain
They just got changed, put on their boots and played a game again
No substitutes, no warming up, just loads of wintergreen
Thirteen Owdham players all proud to be in t’team
No Physios, no Agents, no special parking spot
A man with sponge and bucket was all the players got,
No floodlights in those far off days, no night time games to see
The supporters hut sold Oxo, or just a cup of tea.
Spectators came on buses with few cars on the road
From pubs and shops and mills and mines the Roughyeds to behold
Flat capped men made up the crowd with woodbines in their hand
And ladies came as well to see the best team in the land
Programmes cost a tanner to see the teams that day
To find the ref, that man in black, was “Sergeant Major Clay”
The highlight of a Saturday as everyone will say
Was to see in ‘The Green Final’ that Oldham won away
At far off grounds in Cumberland no motorways back then
So Barlows Coaches took the fans to see the thirteen men
They changed in th’owd Pavilion, a building decades old.
A legacy of years gone by but what stories could be told
Of Oldham Brewery bitter and the much missed Oldham Chron
A Bob a Pint and 9 Card Don, the memories linger on
Pie and Peas, a tap room bar then sited further back
A practice pitch for Rugby teams inside a Greyhound Track
The one regret about this time that everyone will say
Was not to have their lifetime wish and walk down Wembley Way
The final tie to win the Cup, fulfil a long held dream
A victory ride down Union Street and knighthoods for the team
Oh happy days remembered when Owdham had a team,
The concrete walls all round the ground are only but a dream
There are houses now on hallowed turf, with clapped out stands long gone
They’ll talk for years about “that” team as memories linger on,
But as a sport mad boy from Royton, Red Scarf and crew-cut hair
I can say with happy memories …. “AT ‘SHEDDINGS I WAS THERE”
IT’S 100 years since the first Law Cup was contested as a pre-season warm-up match between Oldham and neighbours Rochdale Hornets, but fans will have to wait another 12 months to celebrate the centenary because the traditional, hotly-contested derby will not take place this year.
The decision to put the Law Cup on hold until 2022 has been made jointly by both clubs because of logistical problems caused by the fact that Oldham are scheduled to start the 2021 campaign with a Challenge Cup tie on March 21, while Hornets won’t play until Betfred League 1 kicks-off in early May.
Moreover, Hornets are not allowed to start contact training until March and the latest possible weekend date would be March 14, which wouldn’t give them time to prepare adequately.
March 14 also happens to be Mothers’ Day — traditionally a day which causes fans to have other commitments — but the main reason for the decision is the lack of reasonable time for Hornets to do enough contact training before going into a physical game.
In a joint statement released by both clubs, Oldham chairman Chris Hamilton said:
“Because we are in different divisions with different start dates both for playing and training, we are faced by complications that we don’t normally have.
“Following discussions with Hornets, we have had to reluctantly agree jointly to put the Law Cup on hold for this year and to aim for a game on our home ground in 2022 when we hope the sporting world will be in a better position and we will be able to have fans inside the ground cheering on their teams.”
Rochdale chief executive Steve Kerr said :
“We are naturally disappointed that the Law Cup can’t be organised this year, as we know how much fans enjoy the occasion.
“However, Oldham are returning to training earlier than us. We are not permitted to return to stage 2 (full contact) training until the beginning of March , which doesn’t give us enough time to prepare for a game in mid-March, some seven weeks before we are due to return to action in League 1.
“Our focus is fully on the League 1 campaign and on giving Matt (Calland) the time to prepare his squad for the challenge ahead.”
Oldham chairman Chris added:
“We looked at the possibility of playing the Law Cup as usual this time, and streaming the game, because we know how much it means to both sets of fans, but in the end we had to accept that Hornets didn’t have enough time to prepare anyway, given that they are now allowed to do any contact training until March 1.
“We are allowed only one warm-up match this year, so we are now looking for an alternative fixture which, in all probability, will need to be against another Championship club.”
If the fates allow the Law Cup match to actually take place this year, here are a few facts to consider:
After a 0 – 0 draw at the Athletic Grounds on May 7th 1921, 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.
Oldham retained the trophy on September 9th 1922 when Herman Hilton captained the Roughyeds to a 12 – 8 triumph, scoring a try in the process.
A year later the Hornets registered their first success by securing a 13 – 5 victory at the Athletic Grounds.
Full-back Tommy Rees and prop forward Jack Read both appeared in eleven Law Cup encounters for Oldham.
Bryn Goldswain was the Oldham captain on five occasions with Syd Rix and Martin Murphy leading the team four times each.
Last season’s skipper Gareth Owen was the captain in 2017, 2019 and 2020 and would have probably equalled Rix and Murphy but for injury ruling him out in 2018 when the honour fell to Danny Langtree.
The largest attendance was in 1926 when 14,000 saw Oldham easy winners 34 – 0 at Watersheddings with ex-Hornet Joe Corsi the star of the show with a hat-trick performance.
The mid 1950s was good spell for the “Nets” with victories in 1953 & 1955 with the 1954 match ending in a draw with Rochdale retaining the trophy and there was a shock in 1958 when the star-studded, high flying Roughyeds were humbled 25 – 10 at the Athletic Grounds.
Three Oldham players; Irving Barraclough, Bernard Ganley and Johnny Noon have kicked seven goals in a Law Cup match and in 1961 while ‘Noonie” was landing those goals, Frank Pitchford set the tries record with four touchdowns.
The Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust have added to the website a video of the match against Batley on January 10th 1982. This is the oldest match for which we have extended footage (44 minutes). The match was played at Boundary Park due to Watersheddings being snowbound for several weeks. There is no commentary but the ambient crowd noise is present. The Oldham team was as follows:
Alan Taylor, Geoff Munro, Brian Caffery, Mic Parrish, Phil Ward, Ashley McEwen, Paddy Kirwan, Brian Hogan, Alan McCurrie, Adrian Alexander, Bob Mordell, Mick Worrall, Terry Flanagan.
SUBS: Ray Ashton, Alan Platt.
Does anyone out there have any footage older than this? In the same season Oldham played Hull at Headingley in the semi-final of the John Player trophy on November 29th 1981. This match was screened live by the BBC. Does anyone have a tape of this match or any that are older? If so the Trust would be like to take a copy to add to the collection.
The Heritage Trust were saddened to learn via the Rugby League Journal of the death of Peter Astbury.
Peter played four matches for the Roughyeds on loan from Bramley in the 1973-74 season, all of them at scrum-half, including the game against the Australian touring team.
After playing for Normanton and Castleford under 19s, Peter began his professional career at Leeds before moving on to Bramley where he amassed 130 first team appearances before moving on to Bradford Northern. He moved back to help the coaching staff at Bramley and also had spells behind the scenes at Keighley, Doncaster and York.
The sincere condolences of the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust are offered to Peter’s family and friends.
The Trustees of the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust would like to offer their sincere thanks to the volunteers who helped make the “Pass It On” project such a success:
Linda Mills, Ray Hill, Joe Warburton, Nick Jones, Callum Brown, Mary Turner and Sandra Bullock. Without their help and enthusiasm the project could not have been realised within the twelve months timescale. Another factor was the help from the staff at the Oldham Local Studies and Archive department and Gallery Oldham for their help and support.
Finally, a big thank you is offered to the Heritage Fund whose financial backing made the whole project possible.
On Saturday December 7th the Trust held its Celebration event to mark the closing days of the ‘Pass It On’ project by which their memorabilia collection was given over to Oldham Council and the launch of the new Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust website. The project has been funded by the ‘Heritage Fund.’
On the day there was a mini display of memorabilia along with a slide presentation covering the activities of the trust over the years.
The turn out was very heartening with amongst the attendees: The Mayor of Oldham, Ginny Alexander and consort, Adrian Alexander, MP for Oldham East & Saddleworth, Debbie Abrahams, Club Chairman, Chris Hamilton, Club Captain, Gareth Owen along with a good representation from the ex-players association including “Hall of Famers”, Mike Elliott, Terry Flanagan and Martin Murphy. There was also representation from Rugby Oldham and ORSA.
The atmosphere was very positive with a particularly good response to the new website.
New Oldham Rugby League Book Now Available. By Michael Turner
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 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).
SAD news has reached us from Australia of the death of former Oldham prop Alan Ogden, who was in his early seventies and had been suffering from Alzheimers for a few years.
Local lad Alan, a strong front-row forward with a good pair of hands and a good footballer, emigrated to Perth, Western Australia when his playing days were over.
When he signed in 1965 he faced tremendous competition from more experienced props like Ken Wilson, Charlie Bott, Alf Mumberson and later, Danny Gardiner and Geoff Fletcher and actually made his debut in the second row against Castleford on November 23rd 1965. However, it was soon apparent that Alan’s best position was in the front row where he played the vast majority of his appearances in the Oldham first team.
After 63 games for his home-town club, he was transferred to Leigh for £5,000 in 1971.
The sincere condolences of everyone at the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust are sent out to the Ogden family.
The Heritage Trust is sad to report the death in Hertfordshire of former Oldham loose-forward David Parker, who was club captain in the mid-1960s.
Born in Barrow, G D (George David) Parker made 198 appearances for Roughyeds, scoring 34 tries, during his time at Watersheddings which spanned the seven years from 1960 to 1967.
He came to the Manchester area from Barrow to study at Manchester University and it was while he was excelling for Manchester RU Club, and earning a place in the Lancashire County XV, that he came to the notice of Oldham RLFC.
He turned pro and signed for Oldham in August, 1960, making himself a reputation as a stylish loose-forward with pace, handling skills and a superb defensive game.
He captained Roughyeds, gained county honours and represented Great Britain in two Tests against France in 1964.
Outside rugby, he was in the senior management team at Platt Brothers, who in those days were one of the biggest employers in the town.
In his book, ‘Oldham RLFC, 1876 to 1997’ Mike Turner wrote of Parker:
“A recurrence of a knee injury in the first match of the 1967-68 season against Liverpool City ended the career of one of the most stylish forwards ever to play for the club. He was an excellent defender and also posessed a good turn of speed with superb handling skills.”
The sincere condolences of the Oldham Rugby League community are extended to the Parker family.