Category: General News


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:  07882848340 or John Watkins: 07974612038

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.

100th anniversary of the Law Cup – May 7th 2021

The Law Cup


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.

Rees T.e
Tommy Rees

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.

Read Jack
Jack Read

19571012 4 Roch
Bernard Ganley


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.

Blair John
John Blair

Noon John
John Noon

Dyson Frank
Frank Dyson

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.

Large Ernie
Ernie Large

Davies Al
Alan Davies

Mcintyre Len
Len McIntyre

Robinson Geoff
Geoff Robinson

19610812 Rochdale
Frank Pitchford scoring one of his four tries on August 12th 1961.

Fiddler Jim
Jim Fiddler


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.

Palfrey Lewis
Lewis Palfrey

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’.

2004 I Watson
Ian Watson


The first recipient was Ian Watson with Danny Langtree the most recent winner in 2020.

Danny Langtree Htt
Danny Langtree

Watersheddings Memories – A Poem

Longtime Roughyed fan , Mike Dunkerley, has sent the following poem to the Heritage Trust with memories of Watersheddings and the 1950s team.


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”

Law Cup put on hold until next year

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.”

100th anniversary of the Law Cup – 2021

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.

19220909 Lc
The 1922 winning team

  • 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.

1958 Headline
Green Final headline for the Hornets’ shock victory in 1958

  • 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.

Joseph Platt inducted into the Rugby League Roll of Honour

Jos Platt Copy

It is perhaps appropriate that on August 29th 2020, exactly 125 years since the formation of the Northern Union / Rugby League at the George Hotel in Huddersfield, Joseph Platt the first secretary of the then new sporting body was inducted into the Rugby League – Roll of Honour. He is the first person to be posthumously so honoured.

Joe served as secretary of the league for 25 years and was an official / vice president at Oldham for over forty years having first being elected to the committee in 1885

The Oldham Chairman Chris Hamilton was there to receive the award from the CEO of the Rugby Football League, Ralph Rimmer at the special 125th anniversary event at the George Hotel.

1895 2 Copy
Chris Hamilton with RFL CEO Ralph Rimmer at the George Hotel in Huddersfield.

History tells us that Joseph Platt was a tireless worker on behalf of Oldham F.C. and all things Rugby League and the award is long overdue.

100th anniversary of the Law Cup – 2021


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.

Joe Ferguson – Still breaking records!

Ferguson Joe 2

Due to a decision by the Rugby League Record Keepers club to include some fixtures from the 1918-19 season as senior matches, Joe Ferguson, Oldham’s record appearance maker has had his total increased to 631.

There were four matches played in March / April 1919 that originally had their status changed from senior fixtures to “friendlies”. However, for record keeping purposes these games have now been declared good to count towards official statistics.

The matches were as follows:

Oldham11St Helens Recs.0March 15th 1919
Swinton6 Oldham5April 18th 1919
Oldham28Swinton12April 19th 1919
Oldham18Broughton R.5April 21th 1919

Joe played in all four matches and the other players affected are as follows:

4 matches: Alf Wood, Jim Parkinson, Danny Thompson, Rod Marlor and Herman Hilton.

3 matches: Tom Fitton, Ernest Forshaw, Harry Carter and Bill Biggs.

2 matches: Billy Hall, Evan Davies, Ned Thomas and Tom Taylor.

1 Match: George Cook, Joel Tetlow, George Evans, Robert Duff, Hallam Fenton, Dave Holland, Jack Wiltshire and J Foster.

These are the points that have been added to their totals:

Alf Wood:                                                       7 goals – 14 points.

Jim Parkinson & Herman Hilton:                   3 tries – 9 points.

Tom Fitton & Danny Thompson:                    2 tries – 6 points.

Evan Davies, Ned Thomas, Joe Ferguson, Ernest Forshaw, Bill Biggs & Jack Wiltshire: 1 try – 3 points.

Oldham v Batley – 1982

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.

A Message from Oldham RLFC

A message from Oldham RLFC to all fans

The decision to suspend all competition was a difficult one for everybody, but the correct decision was made.

For many, there will be far greater concerns than the club at this time, but we know how strong our bond is with supporters.

The local community and family are at the core of our values as a club, but they feel more important than ever at this moment.

A plan is being implemented to protect both playing and non-playing staff from the virus, to attempt to ensure the club survives the uncertainty, but uncertainty is the only answer that we currently have and it will test our resolve to the limit. Our loyal fan base will be vital during this period. Season ticket holders and lottery members, I cannot thank you enough.

Your continued support will be critical throughout this period devoid of game-day income and we urge you to continue showing your support whilst we are not playing.

Fans willing to support the club during this period can do so by joining our lottery. There are numerous ways to join the lottery. We have introduced new payment pathways for those willing to support the club in any way they can.

Please see the link below for details:

Club Message

Everybody associated with the club are going to carry on doing the best we can. Whether you’re social distancing, in self-isolation or just trying to act more conscientiously, continue to be your best self. Act with kindness, stay connected to those vulnerable or lonely and stay responsible.

Thank you on behalf of the club.

Photo Archive – Can you help?

Although our photo archive is quite impressive there are some images of the players of Oldham RLFC that are missing or very poor in quality.

If you could fill in any of the gaps or provide a better quality photograph we would be glad to hear from you. Please contact the Trust via our email address:

Any addition to our collection is always greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Trustees offer thanks to participants

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.

Thanks to you all.

Pass it On Celebration Event

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.

The Roughyeds Kitbag

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
(Delivery free to Oldham postcodes. Please add £3.50 for P&P for addresses outside the Oldham area).

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:

Michael Turner of the ORLHT 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.

Michael Turner of the ORLHT

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

Roger O’Mahoney RIP

Roger joined Oldham from the Spotland Rangers amateur club in 1972.

A hooker, he spent his first few seasons at Watersheddings in the shadow of Kevin Taylor who was the regular Watersheddings number nine for more than a decade During his spell in the Oldham ‘A’ team, Roger was in the side that won the Lancashire Shield against Salford in 1976.

From then on Roger had an extended spell in the senior side and amassed a total of 122 appearances, scoring nine tries and four drop goals. Included in the appearance total was being an ‘ever-present’ in 1977-78 when he played in all 33 matches.

A popular player on and off the field, Roger joined Warrington after impressing in a trial period in September 1982.

The condolences of everyone at the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust go to the O’Mahoney family.

Colin Forsyth RIP

The Death has been announced on May 31st of York-born Colin Forsyth, who had a brief career with Oldham after signing as a 17 year old in 1964.

A prop forward, Colin went on to have a distinguished career with Bradford Northern, Featherstone Rovers, York and Wakefield Trinity. He was a product of the Heworth amateur club.