Michael Turner

On-line zoom talk with ‘Gallery Oldham’ about the Oldham RL Heritage Trust collection – Wednesday October 20th 2pm.

The Heritage Trust has arranged, at the request of ‘Gallery Oldham’, to present an on-line zoom talk regarding the content of the ORLHT collection and subsequent donation to the Gallery. Details below:

Join Karen Heatley from the ‘Gallery Oldham’ collections team and Michael Turner from the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust as we take a look at the fascinating objects in this recently donated rugby collection.

Brought together by the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust over many years, it is recognised as being one of the most important rugby club memorabilia collections in the world. Objects include an array of caps, shirts and medals some of which date way back to the Victorian era along with a variety of documents and photographs.

There is something for everyone with a passion for Rugby.

Book your ticket via eventbrite and login details for the talk will be emailed to you a few days before the session.


The ORLHT website added to Sporting Heritage

The Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust is pleased to announce that their website has been added to the prestigious ‘Sporting Heritage Collections’.

Sporting Heritage CIC is a not-for-profit community interest company working specifically to support the collection, preservation, access, and research of sporting heritage in the UK and wider.  They have extensive experience in delivering programmes and projects at strategic and delivery level in the heritage, media and sports sectors.

They are associated with collections from many sports including; Football, Cricket, Athletics and of course Rugby League. Please find a link below to the Sporting Heritage website.


Brian Walker – Funeral

The funeral for Brian was duly held on Wednesday October 6th with a service at Holy Trinity Church, Woods Lane, Dobcross, Oldham at 11.30am.

The service was followed by the committal at Oldham Crematorium, Hollinwood at 1pm with an assembly of the mourners back at The White Hart, Lydgate from 1.30pm.

Of course many of Brian’s family and friends were in attendance with the Rugby League community well represented. At the church all of the Heritage Trust trustees were in attendance (Mick Harrop, Tim Hughes, Steve Brown and Michael Turner). “Rugby Oldham” was also well represented with secretary, Ian Wilson giving a thoughtful and sometimes humorous reading bringing to mind Brian’s dealings with the RO organisation.

The Oldham Rugby League club was represented by Roger Halstead who gave the main eulogy on behalf of the Walker family. Roger delivered the piece with style and empathy recalling Brian’s early life and long time association with all things Rugby League in Oldham.

Ray Hicks and John Watkins were there to represent the Oldham ex-players association and Peter Townsend of Saddleworth Rangers was also present with Phil Bradbury representing the Oldham amateur RL at the crematorium.

Bwf 2

As would be expected, part of the floral tribute was rugby themed.

I am sure that the thoughts and condolences of everyone associated with Rugby League in Oldham are with Adrian, Charlotte and Oscar at this sad time.

Brian Walker RIP

September 21st 2021

It is with sorrow and regret that the news has been received that our friend and colleague Brian Walker has died after a long illness aged 75. A true Roughyed through and through, his presence in and around all things connected with Oldham RLFC will be sadly missed.

Bw World Cup
Brian with the Rugby League World Cup at the Mahdlo Youth centre in 2013.

Brian was a founder member and trustee of the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust and a true ‘tour de force’ in his aspirations and accomplishments to help the ORLHT become a leader in the world of sporting heritage organisations. Of course most of this concerned his beloved Oldham RLFC and his enthusiasm and passion to help protect and preserve the collection was boundless and second to none. He would, at the drop of a hat, journey right across the country, north to south and east to west to acquire a cap, shirt, medal or anything else that would add to trust’s impressive collection.

When it was time to bring out one of the Heritage Trust books, it was Brian who would charm, cajole and quite often pursue the sponsors until we had sufficient funds to make them happen. Without his input on this front it is unlikely that many of the publications would have seen the light of day and none of these were better received than Brian’s own “Roughyeds – The Story” which quickly sold out after it was published in 2004.

He was a prime mover in setting up the Heritage Trust Trophy which is presented to the Oldham ‘Player of the Match’ in the Law cup fixture against Rochdale Hornets and indeed Brian presented the trophy to the first recipient Ian Watson, again in 2004.

At the weekend he would, more often than not, be seen at Saddleworth Rangers on Saturday and where ever the Roughyeds were playing on Sunday, almost always accompanied by his wife Anne until she passed away a few years ago.

When it came to Oldham Rugby League, Brian was there. A meeting with the Heritage Trust or Rugby Oldham, or the Oldham council, Brian was there. He was there at the championship victory against Hull at Odsal in 1957 and the heartbreaking challenge cup semi-final defeat to Hull KR in 1964. Pre-season friendlies at Barrow and Whitehaven, World Club Challenge matches in Adelaide and Townsville, Brian was there. From Headingley to Hemel and from Paris to Parkside. Brian was there. Freezing nights at Watersheddings, scorching afternoons at Whitebank. St Helens, Leeds, Wigan, Warrington. Brian was there. Keighley, Rochdale, Workington, Batley. Brian was there. Carlisle, Oxford, London Skolars, North Wales. Brian was there.

May I return to the beginning, a true Roughyed – through and through!

Kevin Flanagan RIP

September 19th 2021

The Oldham RL Heritage Trust were saddened to hear of the death of ex Roughyed, Kevin Flanagan.

The sincere condolences of everyone at the Heritage Trust and the wider Oldham Rugby League community go to Diane, his wife, and the extended Flanagan family. Kevin died at the age of 74 after a 15-month battle with cancer.

Flan K

A tireless worker in the back row of the forwards, Kevin played in 78 senior games for the Roughyeds, thus following in the footsteps of his father, Bill, a hooker who played for Oldham in the mid-1940s, before moving on to Belle Vue Rangers. Both of Bill’s sons, first Kevin, then Terry, did Oldham proud. Kevin also distinguished himself at Rochdale Hornets and is held in the highest regard at our near neighbours.

Kevin had two spells at Watersheddings in the late 1960s and then the 1970s scoring eight tries and thirteen goals.

Always friendly and on good terms with the trustees of the ORLHT, the game in Oldham has lost a true gentleman.


The Heritage Trust is pleased to announce renewed links with the Oldham Rugby League Ex Players Association.

We believe that viewers of our website include many former “Roughyeds” and the Ex Players Association are always looking to swell their ranks and acquire new members.

Going forward the Heritage Trust will be glad to post news of the ex players functions and events on the website and are sure that the links between the two organisations can only be mutually beneficial.

Forthcoming Event


Friday 15th October 2021

St Herbert’s Parish Hall, 148 Broadway Chadderton Oldham OL9 0JY.

Speaker: Iestyn Harris   –   Comedian & compare: John Gillan

£30 (includes 3 Course meal)

Please contact:
Joe Warburton:  joewarby9@aol.com  07882848340 or John Watkins: 07974612038

John Fairbank RIP

July 2021

It is with deep sadness that we report the death of former Oldham forward, John Fairbank, at the age of 55.

Fairbank John

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.

Missing Videos – Can you help?

The Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust has, over the years, built up an impressive collection of match videos.

However, there are a few that would be a welcome addition to the collection if anyone out there has a copy.

19840916 Blackpool

The match against Blackpool Borough on September 16th 1984 when a certain Hugh Waddell ran in a hat-trick against his future team-mates in a shock Lancashire Cup victory for the seasiders, is one that people have enquired about from time to time, but is one of the few home matches from the 1984-85 season that we don’t have in the collection.

For the 1991-92 season there are just two matches required. Away at Sheffield on September 1st 1991 and the home match against Leigh the following week on September 8th.

Also from the first super League season in 1996 only the away match at Paris on April 8th is missing from the archive.

Any help in acquiring these matches for the collection of the Heritage Trust would be much appreciated.


The Oldham RL Heritage Trust sincerely apologises for the wrong image being attached to the original Mick Coates obituary.

We are very sorry for any distress this has caused.

Mick Coates RIP

27th May 2021

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.

Coates Mick

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.