Nearly 200 guests sat down to a delicious four-course dinner. The turn-out included scores of ex-Oldham players, representatives of several similar organisations at Bradford, Huddersfield and Rochdale Hornets, well-known names from the local amateur scene, the Oldham RLFC top brass, big names in the sport like Brian Noble, Mike Ford, Paul Round, Barrie McDermott and Robert Hicks and loads of people who watch rugby league regularly, be it standing on a touchline, on telly or at a stadium in posh seats.
The sport always makes a big thing of being inclusive and it was certainly that on this occasion, writes ROGER HALSTEAD. There were polished, professional performances from Noble, one of the most decorated people in the game, both as a player and coach; from MC Pete Emmett and from comedian Austin Knight, a natural ‘joker’ whose wit, timing of delivery and an uncanny ability to win-over his audience was one of the evening’s highlights.
Top-table guests included the inimitable Sean Long, and other leading lights of the parent club such as Bill Quinn, Mike Ford and John Chadwick who, as he usually does on these occasions, read out a list of members who had died during the year.
Scattered around the body of the hall were reps from other organisations which work for rugby league in Oldham such as Rugby Oldham (the Supporters’ Trust); the Oldham RL Heritage Trust; the YEDS supporters’ group and the Oldham Amateur Rugby League, who were themselves busy at Melrose last weekend with the Pathway programme for local youngsters starting off last Saturday and the Amateur League’s Junior Cup Finals staged there on Sunday.
But back to St Herbert’s and that Players’ Assn dinner. It really was a top social occasion. Well done to all concerned !
The next function for the Players Association is a social evening to be held at Springhead Sports and Social Club on Friday December 8th 7.30pm with comedian Gary Marshall and music from Bing Findlater. The price is £10 which includes a potato pie supper.
An interesting story has come in to the Heritage Trust mailbox from long time Roughyed supporter and season ticket holder Jack Butterworth.
“A few years ago I was working on a trade show at the NEC in Birmingham and met a man who I knew well but only saw from time to time. He is a Birmingham lad. The conversation went. You are from Oldham aren’t you? Yes Do you follow the rugby? Yes Do you remember a player called Sid Little? Yes I do. He is my father in law. Was he any good? I enlightened him on how good his father-in-law was.”
A powerful second-row forward with a good turn of speed, Sid played 249 matches for Oldham between 1952 and 1959.
Along with Charlie Winslade and Derek Turner he provided the Roughyeds with a fearsome ‘back three’ that was the envy of the league.
He played ten times for Great Britain and made eight appearances for Cumberland county.
Bill Quinn, chairman of the Roughyeds, has announced that the board has adjusted the club’s official title to Oldham RLFC 1876 Ltd.
He said in a chairman’s statement:
“Hi, everyone. It’s been a very exciting couple of weeks and more news now.
Chairman and the board as a whole are proud to announce the name change of our great club to
ORLFC 1876 Ltd.
“We felt it was only right to go back to the very start and to recognise everyone who has ever had anything to do with our club,
It is an insult not to celebrate our rich history and not to honour those who went before us. Many of them did great things and the club has a very impressive honours board.
So many people achieved big things for this club and it’s only right that we recognise it. We will be history ourselves one day and hopefully we will have added even more success to the history of our club.
This is also a thank you to our great supporters who have stood by the club for many, many years. In 2026 we will be celebrating 150 years . . . hopefully with success for everyone.
Many thanks, and remember our catchphrase, #StrongerTogether Your chairman, “Bill Quinn”.
When the Oldham club was formed in 1876 it was known as Oldham F.C. and was one of the 22 clubs who broke away from the RFU in 1895 to form the Northern Union.
The NU then changed its name to the Rugby Football League in 1922.
The club continued to be known as Oldham F.C. until the name was changed to Oldham Rugby League Football Club in 1970 before becoming 1997 Ltd.
The Oldham RL Heritage Trust were saddened to hear the news of the death of local broadcaster Dave McGealy at the age of 74.
The station manager and founder of Oldham Community Radio in 2007, Dave was a good friend to the Roughyeds and the OCR always provided much airtime for Oldham RLFC, not least of which was the witty and insightful match commentaries by Dave and co-presenter, Gerald Brierley.
However, it is not only the Rugby League Community that will mourn the loss of this totally likeable character. He was genuinely a “Man of Oldham” whose voice on the local airwaves was one of knowledge and reassurance. I have occasionally been interviewed on Oldham Community Radio and once had the pleasure of contributing to the ‘My Music’ hour and Dave was always on hand to make sure that everything went smoothly in the studio.
I am sure that the sincere condolences of everyone connected with Oldham RLFC and indeed the Borough of Oldham will be sent to all of Dave’s family and many friends. RIP.
There continues to be considerable interest in the Oldham RL Heritage Certificates with recent despatches to former ‘Roughyeds’, or their families, to players from the 1930s, Tommy Thompson (309), 1940s, Jack Casey (541) and the live-wire stand-off of the 1960s & 70s, Wilf Briggs (699).
Also, another recipient in Australia is former wingman Joe McNicholas (1053) who can be seen in our photograph with Glen Liddiard (910) whose receipt of his certificate was reported earlier. Joe and Glen are now both on the staff at Penrith Panthers Academy.
Thanks to Dave Walker of the Players Association for the photo of Glen and Joe.
The Club awards night and 1990 Old Trafford team reunion held at the ‘White Hart’ on September 15th has been hailed as a great success and prompted long time Oldham press reporter Roger Halstead to say:
“For me, it was the reunion of the 1989-90 boys which made it something special and I have to say what an absolute pleasure it was to spend time with my heroes of yesteryear…
A suggestion before I sign off — the reunion of the Old Trafford comeback kids was so successful, such a magnificent entrée to the main dish, that I would like to suggest we do something similar every year for the foreseeable future.”
The 2023 season awards presented on the night went as follows:
The Brian Walker award as coach’s player of the year – Martyn Ridyard.
The players’ player of the year – Matty Wilkinson.
The Iain Taylor family award as Unsung Hero – Sam Bardsley.
The winner will be announced at the Oldham RLFC Annual Awards event on Friday September 15th at the White Hart.
Fans have until Wednesday September 13th to register their vote and can do so on our fan polls page.
You can vote only once for your chosen player; duplicate votes from the same email address will be discounted.
Tickets for the event are priced at £35 per person and include a three-course meal.
Numerous awards on the night will be handed out such as the Brian Walker Player of the Year (chosen by the coaches), Unsung Hero (the Taylor Family Award) and Players Player of the Year to name a few.
As well as the awards, there will also be a re-union of the 1989/90 team which won the Second Division Premiership at Old Trafford 30-29, after being 29-6 down. Several players from the 1990 Old Trafford victory over Hull KR have now confirmed their attendance at the event and will take part in a Q & A session.
It will be a never-to-be-forgotten night at The White Hart, Lydgate on Friday, September 15, the ticket (£35) includes a three-course meal at this fashionable local venue, plus all the usual paraphernalia associated with a night like this.
It will recognise and celebrate anything the squad might have achieved by then, the season’s individual awards, the change of ownership at the club, plus the move to Boundary Park and the new and valued association with Oldham Athletic.
This special night’s highlight, though, will be a reunion of the team of 1990 that caused numerous shocks by turning over First Division clubs in various cup competitions that year, including Saints and Wigan in the Lancashire Cup and the crack Widnes team of all talents and World Club Champions to boot after beating Canberra Raiders at Old Trafford.
Oldham were in the Second Division at the time and we capped off a fantastic year by coming back from 29-6 down to beat Hull KR 30-29 in a fantastic Second Division Premiership Final at Old Trafford.
The team drove back to Oldham on top of an open-decked bus, cheered on by thousands of fans en route, and then went to the Civic Centre for a Civic Reception.
Several members of that team will be at The White Hart on the night and just to remind you of who played it was Duncan Platt; Richard Irving, Gary Hyde, John Henderson, Paul Lord; Brett Clark, Mike Ford; Leo Casey, Andy Ruane, John Fieldhouse, Paul Round, Charlie McAlister, Richard Russell. Subs: Tommy Martyn, Keith Newton.
Tony Barrow was head coach, Mike Ford was the captain and the backroom staff included Derek Whitehead, Billy Kindon, John Watkins, Nick Hodgson and Ossie Rowe.
Said Mike Ford: “It’s important that we remember our history; where we came from; who we are etc. Although the main focus of the night will be on the current side — and that’s right and proper — it will be nostalgic and even emotional to recall what happened at Old Trafford that day and then back in Oldham that night.”
The Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust in combination with the Oldham Players Association can report that recently a number of Heritage Certificates have been sent over to Australia to some of the former favourites of the Roughyeds faithful.
Thanks to the assistance of Dave Walker from the Players Association the following players have received their certificates in the last few weeks:
David Liddiard (Number: 908 – debut 13.10.1985)
Glen Liddiard (Number: 910 – debut 15.12.1985)
Bruce ‘Bruiser’ Clark (Number: 911- debut 31.08.1986)
Stuart Raper (Number: 913 – debut 14.09.1986)
Brett Clark (no. 953 debut 27.09. 1989)
If anyone knows of a player or their family who might be interested to receive their Heritage Certificate please contact the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust at: email@example.com or, the Oldham Players Association at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust is pleased to be associated with a children’s literacy initiative from Oldham Council entitled the “Summer Reading Challenge”.
The launch of the event and ‘sign up’ for 4 to 11 year olds takes place at Gallery Oldham on Saturday between 11am and 3pm where club mascot, Roary the Roughyed, will be in attendance along with other Oldham RLFC staff, encouraging the children to become involved. Please see the details provided by Oldham Council below:
“Come along and sign up for this year’s Summer Reading Challenge for free, to receive your Ready, Set, Read! pack and enjoy themed activities including smoothie bikes, crazy golf, circus performers,
Roary the Roughyed, Chaddy the Owl, family crafts and more!
Ready, Set, Read! Summer Reading Challenge 2023
Arriving in your local library and online this summer…
The Summer Reading Challenge is taking place at all libraries in Oldham and Gallery Oldham from Saturday 15 July until Saturday 16 September.
The challenge, aimed at children aged 4 to 11 years, is to read six or more library books over the summer or to challenge your own personal reading goal. There are stickers and rewards to collect and children who complete the challenge receive a medal and a certificate. Children taking part online earn digital badges and other online rewards with a certificate to download at the end of the challenge.”
THE Oldham RL Heritage cabinet at Gallery Oldham has been reshaped afresh and is ready for public viewing from Tuesday, July 11.
The new display will be centred on locally-born players who have made good in the game and will feature scrum-half Mike Ford, a Great Britain international and a tourist Down Under in 1988.
In recent years Mike has enjoyed a successful career in Rugby Union coaching, having worked for Ireland, England and several leading club sides, but now he is back living locally in the vicinity of his birth and, as managing director, he is the new ‘face’ of Oldham RLFC, which he has previously served with distinction as player, coach and player-coach. He was the captain when Hull K.R. were defeated in a remarkable come-back victory for the Roughyeds in the 2nd division Premiership Final at Old Trafford in 1988.
The display will also feature Arthur Lees. George Tyson, Edgar Brooks and Terry Flanagan.
Arthur Lees, from Lees village, made his Oldham debut as an 18-year-old. A half-back, he was appointed club captain in 1898 and became the first Lancashire captain to hold the Challenge Cup aloft after victory over Hunslet at Fallowfield, Manchester in 1899.
George Tyson, a winger, was born in the Tommyfield area in 1879. He topped the Oldham try list over three separate seasons and played and scored in every Test for Great Britain as they won the first RL ‘ashes’ series when Australia toured here in 1908.
Edgar Brooks, a hooker, signed from the Watersheddings junior club in 1933. By 1939, he had won the first of his three England caps. He also played for the Probables against the 1936 tour squad, giving an impressive display and scoring a try. By 1940 Edgar was considered a certainty for the tour to Australia and New Zealand until the second World War caused its cancellation.
Terry Flanagan, loose-forward, a ball-handler supreme, signed from Saddleworth Rangers in the face of extreme competition and, aged 19, became the club’s youngest ever captain. Represented GB at Colts and under-24 levels before winning the first of his four full caps. Toured down under in 1984 when Oldham had a record FIVE players on the trip, including Terry and his fellow Oldhamer, Des Foy.
On display in the cabinet will be shirts, caps and medals as well as imagery of the players involved.
The cabinet is situated at the entrance to Gallery One which features the “Oldham Stories” exhibition.
Many thanks to Karen Heatley and the gallery staff for all of their efforts on this project.
Oldham RLFC have instigated a player-of-the-month award. The scheme started in May, with the winner each month to be chosen by the coaches, based on match performances and commitment to training.
They will be sponsored by Rugby Oldham in conjunction with the club and the Walker family. The award is named in honour of the late Brian Walker — a lifetime Roughyeds fan who was involved when Chris Hamilton and his three fellow directors re-formed the club in 1997 and who was also a founder member of Rugby Oldham, the Supporters’ Trust, in 2005. He was a member of the Trust’s board until his death in 2021. He was also, of course, a founding trustee of the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust
The winner of each monthly award will receive £250, to be donated to the chosen player’s amateur club or to the charity of his choice.
The first winner for May was Martyn Ridyard with Pat Moran being the recipient for June.
There will also be an end-of-season award for the Brian Walker Trophy.
It is with great sadness and sincere condolences that the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust has learned of the death of the former Oldham player Ben Heaton at the age of 33.
A hugely-talented full-back, centre or wing, family man Ben spent most of his career as a rugby league player with Halifax, but he had two spells at Oldham where his career started as a 20-year-old and finished in 2021 as a 31-year-old. Having played as an amateur for Rochdale Mayfield, Ben made his Oldham debut at Dewsbury on July 26th 2009.
Ben scored 23 tries in 54 games in total for Oldham where, in 2011, he scored 13 tries in 19 appearances and earned the interest of several clubs in the Championship, including Halifax.
His ultimate departure for The Shay was much lamented by Oldham fans who would never forget the try he scored at York in September, 2009 when he was named at right-centre in an injury-hit Oldham side and took only five minutes to score a sensational try in a massive Final Eliminator (play-off) win which set up Roughyeds for a Grand Final appearance.
In seven seasons at Halifax he scored 53 tries in 135 games, mainly in the Championship, and became a firm favourite of the Fax faithful, as he always was in his Oldham days. There was a loan spell at Batley and a relatively brief time at Hunslet and then it was back to Oldham to finish a career that had started here all those years earlier.
In recent times Ben had been coaching the under 11s at Orrell St James’. Despite playing for other clubs and being heavily involved at Halifax from 2012 to 2018, Ben always had a soft spot for Oldham whom he served with distinction on his way up the Rugby League ladder.
The most sincere condolences are sent out to all of Ben’s family and friends at this very difficult time from everyone in the Oldham RL fraternity.
Following on from their victory 26 – 10 against Heysham on June 4th, the Oldham ladies team are in action again against North Wales Crusaders ladies on June 25th in a friendly match to be played at Chester Rugby Union club with a 12 noon kick off. In that first match the scorers were tries from Paige Garvey (2), Becky Hughes, Lisa Greene and Megan Hobin with Becky Hughes also kicking three goals.
The match is part of a ‘double header’ with the North Wales Crusaders mens team taking on Hunslet, kick off 2.30pm. Admission is £12 or £10 concession.
The Oldham RL Heritage Trust were saddened to hear of the death of the ex Roughyed, Cumbrian forward, Bill McCracken aged 78.
An amateur international, he made his debut for Whitehaven in January 1970 and went on to sign for Oldham in 1973, making a total of 26 appearances for the Roughyeds in which he scored three tries.
Bill then had spells at Workington Town and Blackpool before returning to Whitehaven playing his final game at the Recreation Ground on the 12th April 1982 against Barrow.
He made a total of 117 appearances for Haven.
Bill represented Cumberland in the County Championship on two occasions, both against Yorkshire, in 1972 and 1973.
He coached Whitehaven ‘A’ team and at amateur level he coached, Hensingham, Egremont, Frizington, Lowca and he was the first coach to take charge of the newly formed Smith Brothers RL club in 1996. This was a ground breaking move as they had previously been a rugby union side.
The condolences and best wishes are sent out to all of Bill’s family and friends.
The Oldham RLFC Players Association are once again proud to present Victor Michael one of the most successful and sought after Tenors in the UK.
Thursday 11th May 2023 at The White Hart, Lydgate, Oldham.
7pm for a 7.30 pm start. Tickets: £25 (includes Supper)
PLAYERS ASSOCIATION TUESDAY CLUB
The Oldham Rugby League Family ‘Tuesday Club’
The weekly get-together for all former players or supporters of amateur and professional rugby league continues to go from strength to strength at Heyside Cricket Club, running from 12.30pm until 2.30pm on Tuesday afternoons. Admission is free.
It is a chance for friends to meet and enjoy each other’s company for a couple of hours.
Please pass this on to anyone you think would enjoy attending ‘The Tuesday Club’. Thank you.
The following statements have been published on the Oldham RL website:
OLDHAM RLFC is delighted to announce that a group led by former player and coach Mike Ford and local businessman Mick Harrington has successfully purchased the club.
The recently-announced return of Oldham RLFC to Boundary Park was a key part of the acquisition strategy and, following detailed discussions, we are pleased to have secured a long-term agreement. This will allow the club to lay down roots as well as allowing access to crucial revenue streams as it looks to build an exciting long-term future.
The club would like to place on record its appreciation of the fantastic support given to us by the Rothwell family, Oldham Athletic board and Oldham Council during this whole process.
Today marks the culmination of a years’ worth of discussions and meticulous planning. It is also the start of a new journey for Oldham RLFC. Reflecting on that journey,
Mike Ford said:
“We are really excited about the future of the Roughyeds. It’s close to all our hearts and we know the importance of a vibrant, thriving Oldham Rugby to the town and its people.
“We certainly don’t take our responsibility as club custodians lightly and it’s our vision to give the people of Oldham a rugby league club they can be proud of. A club that they are excited and inspired by and one that they can identify with. We cannot wait to get started.”
Mick Harrington, a lifelong Oldham Rugby fan from Delph whose grandfather played for the club in the 1960s, added:
“This is a historic day for an historic club. We do not want to get ahead of ourselves and we know there is a lot of hard work ahead – but we feel that we can do something special here. Oldham remains a rugby league hotbed and we believe the potential – especially with Boundary Park now as our home – is huge.”
Gary Kershaw, a fellow lifelong Oldham Rugby fan from Denshaw who will join the board, said:
“I think this is absolutely brilliant for the town. I just want to help to get Oldham Rugby back to where it should be. If all the kids from Oldham who have played in Super League had played for Oldham we’d have won three Grand Finals.’
“You support the team where you’re from – it has a place in you heart and I want to give something back.”
Today’s announcement comes at a time when the whole sport is going through a significant period of change. The RFL partnership with IMG hails the start of an exciting time for the game and we believe for Oldham RLFC.
It is clear that off-the-field performance will become an increasingly important success factor and the club is committed to developing a winning team both on and off the field.
Oldham RLFC also believes that supporter engagement and involvement is critical. To our fans: we cannot do this without you. The club is committed to working hand-in-hand and transparently with you.
We also hope to see as many as you as possible at the Good Friday game against Rochdale. Great Friday — as we have called it — marks the start of a new era for this 147-year-old institution and we want you to celebrate a momentous day with us.
We know there are many lapsed supporters in the town. We want you — and your families — back. We want to create new generations of Roughyeds fans. We cannot bring back Watersheddings but we can bring back that Watersheddings spirit. The hard work starts now.
The new board is fully supportive of the current coaching staff and playing squad. We look forward to working with Stuart Littler, Brendan Sheridan, the players and other staff — including our amazing supporter volunteers who are the lifeblood of this club.
Over the coming weeks, the club will be finding its feet and formulating a new management structure. As soon as possible, we will then hold an open public forum. Fans will be invited to meet with the new board of directors and the coaching team, where they will be able to hear more about the club’s vision and plans for the current season and beyond.
Finally, we would also like to thank former owner Chris Hamilton for all his cooperation throughout the acquisition process and for his efforts over the last 25 years.
In a prepared statement, Chris Hamilton said:
“So, my time as owner of Oldham Rugby League Football Club has come to an end. That is probably a sentence I never envisaged I would write given how long I have been involved with the club!
“When I started on this journey 25 and a half years ago, little did I know that it would take over my life and that everything I did would revolve around this club.
“Everybody knows that this has not been a journey full of glory, or of continued success but it has certainly been an eventful one for sure.
“In 1997 I was one of four people who wanted to make sure that professional rugby league in Oldham carried on. Of course, for quite a long time now I have been the only one of those four who was still in place.
“As I think about my time at the club there has been an incredible amount of hard work by a number of people to ensure we still have a club today. I wish to thank everybody who has helped to keep the club going.
“In addition, it would be wrong not to thank all those people and clubs who have helped us by providing grounds for the club to play at since 1997, particularly Stalybridge Celtic when we have been in the Championship and, our current hosts AVRO FC.
“Of course, we have achieved much more than simply maintaining a club. Our promotions to the Championship, the number of Grand Finals we have played in, being one match away from Super League. The list could go on and on.
“However, this is a time for looking forward also. With the new owners coming in, the recently announced move back to Boundary Park, the potential for major development at Melrose Playing Fields, then it is not too hard to think that the club is gaining some traction in moving forward.
“I sincerely wish my successors all the very best in their efforts with the club and hope that all of this positivity currently surrounding the club is rewarded with increased numbers at games to back Stuart Littler, Brendan Sheridan and all the squad as they strive to gain promotion back to the Championship this year. Now wouldn’t that be fantastic — first game back at Boundary Park being a game in the Championship!
“I could go on for a long time in this final statement, but it has all been a bit of a whirlwind and the focus must remain on the team and the upcoming match at North Wales Crusaders this Sunday.
“As for me, I hope to be there, cheering the lads on. I will do whatever I can to help the new owner in the transition at the club and will be looking for a new job too — now that will be strange!’
The Oldham RL Heritage Trust would like to echo the above sentiments in thanking Chris Hamilton for all his efforts over the last 25 years and likewise wish every success to the new consortium.
Oldham won back the Law Cup in dramatic fashion on January 29th 2023 with a late winner against Rochdale Hornets at Whitebank.
The Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust trophy went to Deane Meadows who put in a strong performance and was never far from the action throughout the entire match.
The Hornets looked all set to take the spoils at the Vestacare stadium when leading 14 – 12 deep into injury time but a pinpoint kick from Martyn Ridyard was finished off by a jubilant Joe Hartley who touched down for the match winner. Special credit should also be given to Ridyard, whose ‘three from three’ conversions proved to be the telling factor. The other Oldham tries came from Ethan Ferry and Zac Baker.
The long period of stoppage time was due to a serious knee injury to new signing Lewis Sheridan and I am sure that the best wishes of all the Oldham RL community are sent to Lewis for a speedy recovery.
Oldham RLFC Anniversary Dinner / Players Association Social.
The organisers have left no stone unturned in bringing to the Roughyeds a glittering array of new and up-and-coming after-dinner talent to entertain everyone at a one-off Oldham RLFC Anniversary dinner.
The guest speaker will be former St Helens and Ireland star Kyle Amor, rapidly making a name for himself as TV pundit, commentator, interviewer and after-dinner speaker.
Alongside him as MC at this prestigious event, held to mark the first 25 years of pro rugby league in Oldham under the ‘Oldham RLFC (1997) Ltd’ banner, will be another up-and-coming talent on the circuit — Pete Emmett from Halifax, who has already worked with the likes of Johnny Vegas, Mike Tyson, Dame Kelly Holmes and Sugar Ray Leonard.
VENUE: The Oldham Event Centre at Boundary Park, smart, welcoming with easy access off Broadway and loads of FREE car parking.
DATE AND TIME: Friday, November 25, 7pm for 7.30pm.
DRESS CODE: Preferably lounge suit – either that or smart casual.
TICKETING: £35 a head including three-course dinner with coffee and mints; Kyle Amor; Pete Emmett; players and coaches in attendance. Tickets can be purchased online via the Oldham RLFC website or by a phone call to the Roughyeds office on 07904 898177.
It’s many a year since Roughyeds had an event to compare with this and the club hopes it will attract a lot of interest, especially as it will mark a majestic milestone (the first 25 years of Oldham RLFC (1997) Ltd.)
Oldham RLFC Players Association present a Social Evening with comedian Austin Knight and Music with Bing Findlater.
The event takes place on Friday 2nd December 2022 at The Springhead Sports & Social Club.
A new weekly get-together for all former players or supporters of amateur and professional rugby league will kick-off on Tuesday 18th October at Heyside Cricket Club, running from 12.30pm until 2.30pm.
It will be a chance for friends to meet and enjoy each other’s company for a couple of hours. We will establish numbers over the first few Tuesdays and make this a regular gathering if there is sufficient interest. There is no charge to attend but please register your interest with either Joe Warburton on 07882 848340 or Chris Churm on 07919 691655, or drop us a message via Facebook/ Messenger.
Please pass this on to anyone you think would enjoy attending ‘The Tuesday Club’. Thank you!
The Heritage Trust was sad to learn of the death of ex Roughyed, Norman Francis. (Heritage Number 962).
Norman, whom Oldham signed from Leeds, made 16 appearances in season 1990-91, scoring four tries along the way.
He began his professional career at Hunslet in the 1982-83 season before moving to Headingley where he made 44 first-team appearances in a five-year stay, scoring 11 tries. He was a wow in ‘A’ team rugby at Leeds where he is fondly remembered by a generation of Headingley regulars for his barn-stoming performances for the Leeds reserves.
After one year at Oldham, he returned to the City of Leeds to join Bramley, thus becoming a member of that elite band who have played for all three professional clubs in the city.
He scored 38 tries in 72 appearances for Bramley over a five-year period before hanging up his boots.
The ORL Heritage Trust send their deepest condolences to Norman’s family and friends at this sad time
OLDHAM RL stars of yesteryear, headed by Great Britain internationals and Australian tourists Terry Flanagan and Mick Worrall, will be out in force tomorrow (Sunday 4th September) at our ‘must win’ last game of the regular season against close rivals Hunslet.
A large party from the Players’ Association, including players’ relatives, will figure in Heritage certificate presentations, hopefully on the pitch at half-time.
These are due to include Geoff Munro, Damian Munro, Terry Flanagan, Danny Bridge, Gareth Owen, Phil Joy and Mick Worrall, plus relatives receiving certificates on behalf of late loved ones, such as Dave Rix (on behalf of Syd Rix), Liz Fitzsimons (on behalf of Eric), Tommy Leyland jnr (on behalf of his father), Lynda and Andy Blair (on behalf of John), Diane Flanagan (on behalf of Kevin).
There’s a link between Terry Flanagan, Mick Worrall and Syd Rix in that all three went on GB tours of Australia, Terry and Mick when Oldham had a record five players on tour in 1984 and winger or centre Syd in 1924.
Second only to the legendary Alan Davies in Oldham’s try charts, Syd scored 155 tries in 330 Oldham appearances between 1919 and 1932. Acknowledged as one of the greatest three-quarters ever to play for Oldham, he was one of only four players to play in each of Oldham’s four consecutive Challenge Cup Finals between 1924 and 1927.
Eight new members have joined the Players’ Association recently — Les Chadwick, Martin Hall, Tommy Martyn, Paul Norman, Paul Topping, Wes Rogers, Steve Robinson and Terry Garrett — and paid-up membership now stands at 45 and is increasing all the time.
The Associations’s annual dinner is at St Herbert’s on Broadway on Friday, October 14. Paul Sculthorpe is guest speaker. Anyone wishing to attend is asked to contact Joe Warburton, John Watkins or Ray Hicks as soon as possible and ideally before the Association’s next meeting this Monday, September 5, at 7.45pm at Springhead Sports and Social Club.
There will also be a large Civic presence at the Vestacare Stadium tomorrow, led by The Worshipful the Mayor of Oldham, Councillor Elaine Garry and her Consort, Peter Davis.
Also present will be Council leader, Councillor Amanda Chadderton (Royton South); Councillor Elaine Taylor (Chadderton Central), who holds the portfolio for sport; and four more Councillors, Ros Birch (Waterhead), Colin McLaren (Chadderton Central), Clint Phythian (Royton North) and Diane Williamson (Crompton). They will be hosted by our very own former Oldham councillors Ginny, an ex-Mayor of the borough, and Adrian Alexander, a former Roughyeds player, once an Oldham councillor of many years standing and now proud to be the Roughyeds’ ambassador.
Adrian, or ‘Alex’ as he is known in rugby league circles, will present the match ball to the referee on the pitch before kick-off.
The Heritage Trust has been invited to host a zoom talk about the history of Oldham RLFC by the Oldham Historical Research Group.
Entitled “Then and Now”, the event will take place on Wednesday July 13th at 7pm and to gain access to this free on-line meeting please register in advance by clicking the link below to reserve your place.
The Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust in combination with the Oldham Players Association are pleased to announce that the Heritage Numbers associated with those players who have featured in a first team match for Oldham are now going to be available as a “Heritage Number Certificate”.
Starting with the team who played in Oldham’s first match in the Northern Union, later to become the Rugby League, right up to this 2022 season, every player has been allocated a Heritage Number.
In that first match at Hunslet on September 14th 1895 when the teams were still 15-a-side, the honour of being number 1 has been granted to Arthur Lees.
Arthur went on to play 356 times for the club. This was the most appearances out of the team that day. Likewise number 15 goes to Duncan Lamonby who played a total of just two first team matches for the Roughyeds. From this match onwards the numbers are awarded as the players came into the team, so when Harry Eagland replaced Lamonby for the next match he became number 16.
With the number of players now well over 1400, it does not matter if they came on to the field for half a game, played on loan, as a trialist, or turned out in 300 or more competitive games, they are all considered equal in status and so qualify for their Heritage Number. The most recent, at the time of writing, being Robbie Butterworth (number 1466) who made his debut on June 5th 2022.
If you are interested in further details please contact the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust at: email@example.com
Reg Farrar set the Oldham tries in a season record in 1921-22 registering his 49th touchdown in the “Top-Four” play off win over Huddersfield at Watersheddings on April 22nd 1922. The Roughyeds won 13 – 5 with Reg scoring two tries and two goals.
Reg signed for Oldham from the Halifax Old Boys Rugby Union club, playing his first match against Huddersfield on October 23rd, 1920. He set the trend on his debut by scoring the only try in a 5 – 5 draw against the “Fartowners”. He was selected at centre that day and also for the next few games, but it would be on the wing that he would make his mark. His determined running was supplemented by an ability to leap over would-be tacklers. The following season Reg was installed on the left wing to great effect and his record breaking 49 touchdowns were complemented by 33 goals which meant he topped the Oldham tries and goals list. The club finished at the top of the league table but missed out on the Championship title when losing to Wigan in the Championship final two weeks after Reg had scored his brace against Huddersfield in the “Top-Four” play off.
The rest of his career was greatly disrupted by injury and the next two seasons saw him making only 13 senior appearances. When Jack Corsi was injured early in 1925, Reg was selected to take his place and returned to his old form, helping the club to win through to the Challenge Cup Final. Corsi returned to fitness just in time for the final and this left the committee with a selection dilemma. They chose to keep Farrar and Corsi on the wings and switch Sid Rix to centre, to the exclusion of the unfortunate Albert Woodward. The decision, however, proved to be well founded with Reg being the hero of the final, scoring one try, making two others and kicking two goals from the touchline in the 16 – 3 victory over Hull K.R. at Headingley.
More injuries followed and it looked like his career was over, but after almost two and half years out of the game he made a comeback in 1929, showing the same old style by scoring twelve tries in ten games at the end of the 1928-29 season.
Reg finally called it a day in 1930. Amazingly his career ended exactly as it had begun with him scoring the only Oldham try in a 5- 5 draw ! This time the match was against Leigh at Watersheddings on September 6th, 1930.
A totally emphatic victory by 42 points to nil saw Waterhead lift the BARLA National Cup on April 10th 2022 against Sharlston Rovers.
The match, which was played, more or less, in Sharlston’s back yard at Featherstone’s Millenium Stadium, Post Office Road, was totally dominated by “‘Head” who were accompanied by a wonderful group of enthusiastic supporters who followed them in great numbers over the pennines for the historic success.
Saddleworth Rangers will play Waterhead Warriors in what promises to be a classic Standard Cup Final at Oldham RU Club’s Manor Park ground at Bardsley on Good Friday, April 15, kick-off 11.45am.
Saddleworth Rangers are in division one of the National Conference, while Waterhead Warriors operate in division three. Having strengthened their squad this year with the recruitment from Roughyeds of Gareth Owen, Phil Joy and Danny Bridge, Waterhead old boys returning to where it all began, they are fancied to win promotion from division 3.
They have underlined their billing by winning through to the final of the BARLA National Cup.
As a curtain-raiser to the Final, the under-11s from both clubs will go head to head in the Johnny Blair Memorial game, kicking off at 10.30am.
Linda, the late Johnny’s wife, will present the boys with commemorative medals after the game.
Admission to both games will be £5 for adults and £3 for concessions and children. The Oldham Amateur League will give out free tickets to the under-11s at all member clubs which run youth and junior teams.
Said league secretary Phil Bradbury: “Former winners of the Ben Powell man-of-the-match trophy in the Final also get free tickets. “The Final is THE highlight of the local rugby league grassroots scene and, as such, is well supported. This year, with the attendances currently being generated by both the Warriors and the Rangers, we are hoping for, and expect to get, a cracking crowd.”
Gallery Oldham has just refreshed their “Oldham Stories” exhibition which now includes a cabinet dedicated to the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust. There is also some film footage to accompany the display.
The cabinet has been organised by Karen Heatley who has joined the Gallery’s heritage team and the display is most impressive, as is the whole of the exhibition, and is well worth a visit.
The exhibition, which opened on December 14th, is situated in Gallery One and will run for approximately six months.
Following on just over a year from the honour given to Joseph Platt, who was inducted in August 2020, Tony Martin has been similarly honoured by the RFL.
Tony’s now also flies the flag for Oldham in this esteemed category of the Rugby League order of merit. He is rewarded with this recognition for his three decades of outstanding service to the game as a match official.
In the first 25 Super League seasons from 1996 to 2020, he was one of that competition’s top touch judges as well as doing an enormous amount of work for the community game, especially in his native Oldham.
His major match appearances included ten Super League Grand Finals, five Challenge Cup finals and the 2000 World Cup Final.
He becomes the 44th member of the Roll of Honour which was launched in 2003 to recognise people who have made outstanding contributions to the game, both on and off the field.
The induction of Tony to the RFL’s Roll of Honour is not only richly deserved and a great honour for himself and his family, but another reminder of the Oldham Borough’s massive contribution to Rugby League.
A meeting was held at the OEC centre at Boundary Park on Tuesday December 7th as part of the initiative by the new vice- chairman of Oldham RLFC, John Roddy to bring all parts of the local Rugby League community together.
The view is that, as a collective, Oldham RLFC, Rugby Oldham (Supporters Trust), YEDS (the new Roughyeds Supporters Group), the (Past) Players Assn, the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust, the Oldham Amateur League and Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council would potentially achieve much more by working together and providing a united front.
All the different groups supported that basic principle, including Oldham Council, whose top official, chief executive Harry Catherall, was present at the meeting. The unanimous opinion was that this initial meeting was a positive development for Rugby League in the town.
Standing (left to right): Roger Halstead, Adrian Alexander, Ginny Alexander, John Roddy, Harry Catherall (chief executive, Oldham Council), Chris Hamilton, Ian Wilson, Mike Turner, Mike Kivlin. Seated: Joe Warburton, Phil Bradbury, Jamie Hollingworth.
Roughyeds were represented by chairman Chris Hamilton and vice-chairman John Roddy, who said Roughyeds now had a “unique” opportunity to bring the local rugby league community together for mutual benefit. Also present were Mike Kivlin (chairman) and Ian Wilson (secretary) of Rugby Oldham; Phil Bradbury of the Oldham Amateur League; Mike Turner of the Oldham RL Heritage Trust, Jamie Hollingworth of YEDS, the new supporters’ group, Joe Warburton of the (Past) Players’ Assn, former player Adrian Alexander (a club ambassador), his wife Ginny (former Mayor of Oldham and current Oldham Councillor) and Roger Halstead, the Roughyeds media manager and a writer and reporter on rugby league at all levels in Oldham for 57 years
Chris Hamilton said he was thrilled by the appearance of the Council’s chief executive which, in itself, was an indication of the local authority’s interest in playing an active role in the future of the sport in Oldham. We were delighted to host the first meeting of the ‘Partners’ Group. The common denominator is we all want to see Oldham Rugby prosper.
It was decided to meet on a regular basis in working together for the benefit of Rugby League at all levels in Oldham, the general view being that here was an opportunity to show pride in the sport, pride in the town and pride in the town’s rugby league heritage and history.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
OLDHAM RUGBY LEAGUE EX PLAYER ASSOCIATION ANNUAL DINNER
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 07882848340 or John Watkins: 07974612038
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
St Helens Recs.
March 15th 1919
April 18th 1919
April 19th 1919
April 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.
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 decision to suspend all competition was a difficult one for
everybody, but the correct decision was made.
many, there will be far greater concerns than the club at this time, but we
know how strong our bond is with supporters.
local community and family are at the core of our values as a club, but they
feel more important than ever at this moment.
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.
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
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.
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.
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).
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: email@example.com.
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 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.