Category: Obituaries

John Etty RIP

February 29th 2024

It is with the deepest sorrow and sympathy to the whole family that we report the death of our former winger John Etty, who has died in a Blackpool hospital at the age of 97.

Etty John 2 1

He was the last surviving member of what is generally known as Oldham’s ‘great side of the 50s’ the team that won the Lancashire Cup in 1956, 1957 and 1958 and were Rugby League champions in 1957 when they beat Hull 15-14 in the play-off final at Odsal Stadium, Bradford, on a day that will forever be etched in the annals of Oldham sport.

They’ve all gone now, but anyone old enough to remember May 18, 1957 will never forget that day and that match or Etty’s two tries in a memorable triumph.

1956x 1
Back: D. Vines, W.B. Ganley, S. Little, C. Winslade, D. Turner, K. Jackson,
J. Keith, F. Daley. Front: F. Pitchford, D. Ayres, J. Etty, A. Davies, R. Cracknell.

For the record, Oldham trailed 6-5 at half-time and then went 11-5 down, but the brilliant boot of Bernard Ganley and tries by Etty (his second) and centre Denis Ayres did the trick.

After originally playing at centre, John was switched to the wing, after a dozen or so matches, to great effect. His barnstorming runs down the flank made him a great favourite of the Watersheddings fans. The 1956-57 season was a personal triumph for John when he established the Oldham post-war try record with 43 touchdowns, which included two in the Championship Final against Hull and one in the Lancashire Cup Final triumph over St Helens.

The golden streak of form that John found that year was a major contribution to the Championship coming to Oldham.

John, a Yorkshireman, played for Batley, Oldham and Wakefield and won every domestic honour the game had to offer and was capped by Yorkshire county.

The sincere condolences of everyone at the club go to John‘s family and friends. 

Bill Francis RIP

17th February 2024

It is with great sadness that the Heritage Trust was informed of the death of our former player coach Bill Francis aged 76.

Francis Bill

Bill (Heritage Number 829) was born in Featherstone and played for Wigan, St Helens, Oldham and Salford at club level, and Yorkshire, Wales (who he qualified for through heritage) and Great Britain at representative level.

Rated as one of the Wigan ‘all time greats’ with 400 appearances for the cherry and whites, he joined Oldham in 1979 as player coach, with Graham Starkey as manager, after a successful spell at St Helens where he was a try scorer in the 1978 Challenge Cup final.

Bill was a utility back renowned for his deceptive pace, passing skills and a great sidestep. He came to Oldham with a view to his experience helping to bring on the young, up-and-coming talent that was at the club in the colts team of the late 1970s. He made 49 appearances for the Roughyeds scoring four tries before moving on to Salford.

The sincere condolences of the Oldham RL community are extended to all of Bill’s family and friends.

Colin Hawkyard RIP

January 2024

It is with sadness that Heritage Trust learned of the news of the death of former Oldham player Colin Hawkyard at the age of 65.

Colin (Heritage Number 818) signed for Oldham in 1978 from the Bradley amateur club in his native Huddersfield after playing a few trial matches in the ‘A’ team. He made his debut on December 17th of that year playing in the second-row and scored two tries in a 25 – 13 victory away at Huyton. Mostly remembered as a tireless back-row forward who ALWAYS gave 100% effort, Colin played 189 first team matches for the Roughyeds scoring 32 tries. He did however make well over 30 of those appearances playing as a back in the three-quarters.

Hawkyard Colin

Colin was a “players player” who never shirked the hard work, either driving the ball in or making tackle after tackle in the Oldham cause. While the limelight usually went to one or other of his team-mates, he did contribute an everlasting memory for those of us lucky enough to be there, when he scored against the almighty 1986 Australian touring team in a never to be forgotten night at Watersheddings. The Kangaroos were destroying the cream of the English clubs examples being: Hull KR 46 – 10 / Leeds 40 – 0  / St Helens 32 – 8 / Hull FC 48 – 0 but a dogged Oldham performance restricted the tourists to a 22 – 16 victory, the closest margin of the tour. Colin’s try was the result of excellent backing up following a break by Mick Worrall. Two years later it was Colin himself who split the Featherstone defence which set up a second try for Des Foy in that dramatic victory for Oldham over Rovers at Old Trafford.

The sincere condolences of everyone at the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust are sent out to Colin’s family and friends.

Malcolm Price RIP

7th January 2024

It is with deep sorrow that we report the death of former Oldham centre Malcolm Price (Heritage Number 644) aged 86. An international at both Rugby League and Rugby Union, he was selected for the 1959 British Lions tour to Australia and New Zealand playing in five of the six test matches where he scored two tries in the second test against the Wallabies and two more in the first test against the “All Blacks”. He subsequently became a hot property pursued by many Rugby League clubs but it was Oldham who lured him north early in 1962.

Mp 4

A proud Welshman from Pontypool, Malcolm was a stylish centre with a good turn of pace. He made a try-scoring debut for the Roughyeds in a 13 – 7 victory at Liverpool on February 3rd 1962 and repeated the feat on his home debut the following week in a 32 – 16 victory over Hull in the Challenge Cup. However, after only four games he sustained a leg injury that ended his season and worse was to follow when he was seriously injured at Rochdale early in the following season on September 29th 1962. Malcolm suffered serious internal injuries to the pancreas that many thought would end his rugby career. He did not play again for well over twelve months but battled back to fitness to once again take the field for Oldham against Dewsbury on December 28th 1963.

All in all he played 23 games for Oldham in which he scored 14 tries. In 1966 he signed for Rochdale and by 1967 he was in the Great Britain team playing in two tests against the touring Australians.

In later life Malcolm kept himself incredibly fit and was a successful badminton player in the Rochdale district until well into his 60s. He was also very actively involved with the Rochdale Ex-Players association and took part in the 2017 theatrical production of “Rugby in the Blood” which looked at various aspects of rugby life in the Oldham and Rochdale area.

In 2019 Malcolm was inducted into the Welsh Rugby Union ‘Hall of Fame’ in a ceremony down at the SWALEC stadium in Cardiff. It was a very proud day for Malcolm and the Price family who turned out in force for the event.

A true gentleman who will be sadly missed in both codes of rugby, the condolences of the Heritage Trust and all of the Oldham RL community go out to all of Malcolm’s family and friends.

Ben Heaton RIP

22nd June 2023

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.

Heaton Ben2 1

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.

Bill McCracken RIP

13th June 2023

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.

Mccracken Bill

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.

Brian Hatherell RIP

4th December 2022

The Heritage Trust are sad to report the death of former Oldham player Brian Hatherell on Saturday 4th December in Wigan Infirmary .

Hatherall Brian

A talented scrum-half, Brian signed for the Roughyeds from Leigh Colts in the summer of 1958.

He made his first team debut in a 28 – 11 victory over Wakefield Trinity on September 13th 1958 and would go onto make sixteen appearances in the senior Oldham side.

The sincere condolences of the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust are offered to all of Brian’s family and friends.

Norman Francis RIP

30 September 2022

The Heritage Trust was sad to learn of the death of ex Roughyed, Norman Francis. (Heritage Number 962).

Francis Norman 1

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

John Hammond RIP

September 12th 2022

It is with sadness that the ORLFC Players Association passes on the news of the death of former Oldham and Rochdale Hornets scrum-half Johnnie Hammond, who died on September 12th at the age of 77.

He made his Oldham debut in the Law Cup game on August 10, 1975 against Hornets, no doubt enjoying the 29 – 2 victory for the Roughyeds against his former club. He went on to make four senior appearances for Oldham, his home-town club, as well as captaining the ‘A’ team to a Lancashire Shield triumph in 1975-76 in which they beat Salford 32 – 17 in a two-leg final with the second leg watched by an enthusiastic crowd at Watersheddings.

They reached the final again the following year, ending up as runners up to Wigan.

John Hammond Cert
John lifting the Lancashire Shield in April 1976 and receiving his Heritage Certificate on July 10th 2022.


John recently attended the Oldham v Rochdale game where he received his Oldham Heritage Certificate (number 784) from the Players Association chairman Mike Elliott.

The sincere condolences of the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust are sent to John’s family and friends.

Ricky Bibey RIP

July 16th 2022

Bibey Ricky 1

It is with sadness that the Heritage Trust learned the news of the death of former Oldham player Ricky Bibey at the age of 40.

Leigh born Ricky was a no nonsense prop forward who played for Oldham in the 2005 season making 21 appearances. He also played for Wigan, St Helens and Wakefield as well as having three spells with his home town club.

The sincere condolences of everyone at the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust are sent out to all of Ricky’s family and friends.

Terry Gorman RIP

14th May 2022

The Heritage Trust are sad to report the death of former Oldham player Terry Gorman.

A talented half-back, Leigh born, Terry joined Oldham in October 1972 from Swinton to take over as “A” team coach.

Gorman Terry 1

He wasn’t really signed to play in the first team but whenever the club was desperate for a stand-in scrum- half, Terry was drafted in to fill the gap.

This soon happened when Oldham played a Great Britain team in a friendly as part of the World Cup warm up programme on October 18th 1972. No one gave Oldham a chance against a GB side packed with stars such as Paul Charlton, Clive Sullivan, Chris Hesketh, John Atkinson, Mike Stephenson, Phil Lowe and John Holmes but on a dramatic night under the Watersheddings lights, Terry in the backs and Frank Foster in the pack conjured up an incredible victory for the Roughyeds. Terry was indeed the star of the show darting over for two second-half tries in an amazing 18 – 15 success for Oldham.

In all Terry played in ten first team matches for Oldham. He started his career at Huddersfield before having spells at Batley, Huyton and Swinton.

The sincere condolences of the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust are offered to all of Terry’s family and friends.

Bob Pugsley RIP

May 2022

The Heritage Trust are sad to report the death of former Oldham player Bob Pugsley.

Pugsley Bob

A second row or loose forward, Bob joined Oldham from Bridgend R.U. during the 1958-59 season making his debut at the Boulevard, Hull on March 14th 1959.

Bob played 14 first team matches for Oldham scoring 2 tries before a slipped disc injury interrupted his Oldham career in September 1959.

The sincere condolences of all the local Rugby League community are extended to all of Bob’s family and friends.

Geoff Sims RIP

25th December 2021

It is with deep sorrow and regret that we pass on the sad news that Oldham’s former wing or full-back, Geoff Sims died on Christmas Day.

The record book shows that Geoff Sims, a neat and tidy utility back, arrived at Watersheddings from Leigh Colts making his debut on the left wing at Wakefield on August 23rd 1958. Lots of the big-name stars of that famous fifties side were still at the club, but despite the level of competition Geoff made a first-team spot his own, appearing in 204 senior games between 1958 and 1966, mainly at full-back or on the wing but occasionally at centre too.

Also an accomplished goal-kicker Geoff kicked 211 goals for Oldham, including 119 in the 1961-62 season, to go with his 59 tries.

He is well remembered for a touchdown in that never-to-be-forgotten Challenge Cup semi-final of 1964 against Hull KR, which went to three games. Playing on the wing outside John Donovan, he scored a late try in the first replay at Station Road which, with Frank Dyson’s conversion and a last minute penalty, put the Roughyeds level at 14-14 before extra-time was abandoned by referee Dennis Davies due to bad light with Oldham 17-14 ahead.

P 19640314 Hunslet.2

However, in the quarter final at Hunslet in the previous round it was Geoff who secured Oldham’s place in the last four. On an absolute quagmire of a pitch at Parkside, Geoff demonstrated a superb piece of skill in kicking ahead and winning the race to touchdown. It was the turning point of the match that Oldham went on to win 7 – 5 and a brave thing to do in those days of unlimited possession (no tackle count).

Geoff continued to feature regularly in the first team before leaving to join Salford at the conclusion of the 1965-66 season.

The sincere condolences of the Heritage Trust and all at the club are extended to Geoff’s, family and friends.

Brian Walker RIP

September 21st 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kevin Flanagan RIP

September 19th 2021

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

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

Flan K

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

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

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

John Fairbank RIP

July 2021

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

Fairbank John

One of the well-known rugby league-playing Fairbank family of Elland, John joined Oldham from Leeds as part of the deal that took Hugh Waddell to Headingley in 1988.

He won amateur international honours at Elland before joining Leeds where his father, Jack, had played before him and was a member of the Leeds team that won the Championship for the first time in 1961.

He came to Oldham early in the 1988-89 season making his debut against Featherstone on September 11th, 1988. In just over two years at Watersheddings, John made a total of 52 appearances (31 starts and 21 off the bench) and scored 11 tries.

His brother Mark also played briefly for the Roughyeds during the 1986-87 season.

John was a tough-as-teak prop forward with a good turn of pace for a big man.

I remember him scoring a try and having a storming match against his home town club when the Roughyeds beat Halifax 14 – 3 in front of a crowd of just under 7,ooo, under the Watersheddings lights in October 1989 and going over for a dramatic, last-minute winner at Doncaster a month later.

John was a substitute in the Lancashire Cup final and Challenge Cup semi-final in the 1989-90 season both of which were lost to Warrington.

The condolences of the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust and, I’m sure all of the Oldham R.L. community, are sent out to John’s family and friends and everyone at Elland ARLFC where John returned in a coaching role and is remembered as a much valued and respected member of the West Yorkshire club’s staff.

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.

Cliff Hill RIP

April 2021

The Heritage Trust and all of the Oldham RL fraternity were saddened to learn of the death of former Roughyed, Cliff Hill who recently died in a Wigan hospital, aged 78.

Hill Cliff

Cliff , was a clever ‘old school’ stand-off who joined Oldham from Wigan towards the end of his career and, with prop Frank Foster and coach Graham Starkey, helped to transform Oldham’s fortunes in the early 1970s.

A master tactician he dictated tactics, used to the full his great vision and sense of anticipation, and generally brought out the best in those around him.

Hill captained a side which played a brand of touchline-to-touchline rugby that wasn’t only pleasing on the eye, but brought out the best in outside backs and wingers. Hill, as playmaker-in-chief, and Foster, as the side’s enforcer, were the perfect fit for Starkey’s advanced thinking.

In seven years at Wigan earlier in his career, Cliff scored 57 tries in 192 games and then at Oldham, between 1971 and 1973, he played 59 times, scored nine tries… and made scores of more for others.

Brought up in Ashton-in-Makerfield, he was spotted by the great Eric Ashton while playing for Newton-Le-Willows RU club, the club. In replacing full-back Colin Tyrer, who was injured in the 1970 Cup Final, Cliff made Rugby League and Challenge Cup history by becoming the first substitute in a Challenge Cup final.

The following year Cliff signed for Oldham for £2,250.  He made his debut for the Roughyeds at Halifax on February 7th 1971 in a team including Martin Murphy, Mike Elliott, Phil Larder, Kevin Taylor, Ken Wilson and Bob Irving.

He made one appearance for Great Britain against the French in January 1966.

The sincere condolences of the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust are offered to Cliff’s family and friends.

John Rae RIP

27th February 2021

The members of the Heritage Trust were saddened to learn of the death of former Roughyed, John Rae.

‘Johnny’, as he was often known, was signed from the Cumbrian amateur club Wath Brow. A native of Pica, which is more or less half way between Workington and Whitehaven, John was signed by Gus Risman for the Roughyeds making his debut at Salford on March 4th 1961.

Rae John

A second row or loose forwad, John played 41 matches for Oldham scoring 12 tries.

He left Watersheddings to join the newly reformed Bradford Northern club in 1964 which turned out to be an astute signing for ‘Northern’ as John went on to play for Great Britain in the second test against the Kiwis in 1965 and helped Bradford win the Yorkshire cup in the same year. He made 132 appearances for the Yorkshire club scoring 40 tries and nine goals in four seasons before persistent knee injuries forced his early retirement at the young age of 27.

The sincere condolences of the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust are offered to all of John’s family and friends.

Brian Lord RIP

20th February 2021

It is with great regret that the Heritage Trust have learned of the death of former Roughyed, Brian Lord.

Lord B

A noted local swimmer and swim instructor, Brian signed from local amateur rugby in 1959 and made his senior debut at Widnes on January 30th 1960 where the Roughyeds recorded a ten nil victory against the ‘Chemics’. That day Brian played at left centre and his 88 matches for Oldham were split almost equally between the centre and wing positions. A robust player with a good turn of pace he scored 40 tries for Oldham before moving on to the newly reformed Bradford Northern club at the end of the 1963-64 season along with team-mate, John Rae.

The sincere condolences of the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust are offered to all of Brian’s family and friends.

Dave Nicholson RIP

January 20th  2021

The Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust was sad to learn of the death of ex-Roughyed Dave Nicholson on the Isle of Man.

Fans will remember Dave as a hard-working second-row forward in two of Oldham’s most successful seasons for many years.

Nicholson Dave 1

Dave, who played originally for Blackbrook ARLFC and toured Australia, New Zealand and PNG with the pioneering BARLA open-age international squad before turning pro for Swinton in 1979. He played a total of 31 games for the Lions making a lot of friends at Station Road along the way.

He impressed Swinton coach Frank Myler in his two seasons with the Lions, so much so that when Myler  took charge at Watersheddings ahead of the 1981-2 season and wanted to tighten the defence, he  went back to his former club and signed Nicholson and utility back Alan Taylor in a joint deal worth £20,000.

It was the start of a brilliant season in which Dave played 25 times as Oldham won 30 of their 32 league games to finish top of Division Two, to carry off the Slalom Lager Rose Bowl, to pick up £6,000 in prize money and to lift their first trophy since 1964.

They also reached their first cup semi-final in 17 years, beating Doncaster, Huddersfield and Leeds, all at home, to take on Hull at Headingley, losing 22-6 in the last four of the John Player Trophy with Dave playing at prop

Dave played in 35 matches for Oldham scoring 7 tries.

The Myler years will be long remembered . . . as will the part played by Dave Nicholson in Frank’s  first two seasons.

Rest in peace Dave, the condolences of the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust and all the Oldham RL fraternity go out to all of Dave’s family and friends.

Tommy Parker RIP

16th August 2020

The Heritage Trust were saddened to learn of the death of former Roughyed Tommy Parker.

Parker Tommy 1

Tommy was signed from the Lock Lane amateur club in Castleford during the 1959-60 season and made his senior debut on April 18th 1960 in a 36 – 8 home victory over Whitehaven, playing at loose forward. Most of Tommy’s 21 first team games for Oldham saw him at the back of the pack with a few in the second row. His final first team match was in the 8 – 15 home defeat to Swinton on April 28th 1962. Tommy left to join Bramley later that year and made 75 appearances during four seasons with the Villagers.

Strangely enough we had three “Parkers” on the books in the early 1960s: Dave, Peter and Tommy none of them related.

The sincere condolences of the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust are offered to Tommy’s family and friends.

Alan Taylor RIP

June 25th 2020

It is with sadness that the Heritage Trust learned the news of the death of former Oldham player Alan Taylor at the age of 68.

After originally signing for Wigan, when turning professional from the Widnes Rugby Union club, Alan came to Oldham from Swinton in 1981 when Frank Myler took over the coaching job at Watersheddings.

Between 1981 and 1985, he scored 15 tries in 75 appearances, most of them at full-back. He was a tough, talented player who also turned out at stand-off, loose-forward and on the wing.

Taylor A

In 1981-82, his best season, he scored ten tries in 35 games as the Roughyeds won the Second Division championship at the first attempt under the new coaching duo of Myler and Peter Smethurst.

After a spell working away as a teacher in the Bahamas, Alan returned to captain the Roughyeds for the 1984-85 season when Oldham finished fifth in the old first division, their best return since the heady days of the late 1950s.

The sincere condolences of everyone at the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust are sent out to the Taylor family.

Vince Kenny RIP

11th May 2020

The Heritage Trust are sad to report the death of former Oldham player Vince Kenny.

Kenny Vinny

Vince, regularly known as Vinny, was signed from the Folly Lane amateur club in Swinton at the start of the 1961-62 season.

A winger, Vince played in the Law Cup charity match against Rochdale on August 12th 1961 as a trial and was signed straight away. He made a try scoring start to his Oldham career in the match against Halifax the following week.

Vince played 14 matches in the first team scoring eight tries.

His uncle also called Vince Kenny, a stand-off half, played for Oldham from 1939 to 1948 and his brother Peter played for Swinton.

The sincere condolences of the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust are offered to all of Vince’s family and friends.


May 9th 2020

We are saddened to report the death of former Oldham winger Ian Holland, aged 74.

Holland Ian

Ian signed for Oldham from Salford in January 1974 making his debut in the 6 – 5 defeat at home to Hull KR on January 6th with Oldham’s points coming from a try by David Treasure and a goal from Phil Larder. Tony Wainwright was his centre that day and amongst his team-mates were “Hall-of-Famers” Martin Murphy, Kevin Taylor and Mike Elliott. In all he made 28 appearances for the Roughyeds spread over the second half of the 1973-4 season and the first half of the following campaign.

Known as an aggressive, hard tackling wingman, Ian scored seven tries and 22 goals in 28 appearances for Oldham. He went on to subsequently play for Swinton, Barrow and Rochdale where he ended his career having captained the Hornets for a spell.

The condolences of everyone at the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust go to the Ian’s family and friends.

Brian Curry RIP

May 2nd 2020

The Heritage Trust were saddened to learn of the recent death of former Oldham full-back Brian Curry, who had played for Oldham in the mid 1960s. Brian was aged 84.

The Roughyeds acquired Brian from Huddersfield, his home-town club, where he signed in 1957 at just seventeen years of age. Initially as understudy to Frank Dyson, he spent his best years at Fartown where he also ended his career having made 212 appearances scoring 1,003 points.

Curry Brian

Oldham paid Huddersfield £5,000 for Brian who made his debut on September 2nd 1966 in a Lancashire Cup victory over Swinton at Watersheddings. The Roughyeds won 16 – 13 with five goals from Brian the telling factor.

In all he would make 53 appearances for Oldham scoring three tries and 145 goals. He later joined Blackpool Borough before returning to Huddersfield where he went on to join the coaching staff.

The sincere condolences of everyone at the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust are sent out to all of Brian’s family and friends.

Peter Astbury RIP

24th April 2020

The Heritage Trust were saddened to learn via the Rugby League Journal of the death of Peter Astbury.

Astbury PeterPeter played four matches for the Roughyeds on loan from Bramley in the 1973-74 season, all of them at scrum-half, including the game against the Australian touring team.

After playing for Normanton and Castleford under 19s, Peter began his professional career at Leeds before moving on to Bramley where he amassed 130 first team appearances before moving on to Bradford Northern. He moved back to help the coaching staff at Bramley and also had spells behind the scenes at Keighley, Doncaster and York.

The sincere condolences of the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust are offered to Peter’s family and friends.

Frank Myler RIP

27th March  2020

The Heritage Trust and the whole of the Rugby League fraternity will be sad to learn of the death of the Widnes and Great Britain legend, Frank Myler.

Myler Frank

A World Cup winner with Great Britain in 1960, he remains the last person to captain the Lions to Ashes success over Australia back in 1970.

Truly one of the ‘greats’ of the game, Frank captained both Widnes and Great Britain and enjoyed a successful spell at St Helens and briefly with Rochdale Hornets. Originally a super quick stand off, he later became equally at home as a centre. He also coached at Rochdale as well as at Swinton and his home town of Widnes. However, for the fans of the Roughyeds it will be Frank’s tenure at Watersheddings that will be best remembered.

He arrived at Oldham for the start of the 1981-82 season when Roughyeds were in the Second Division, having been relegated the previous season.

Promotion was secured and the club reached the semi-final of the John Player trophy, only losing out to the crack Hull F.C. outfit. In the following years the club went on to have its most successful spell since the heady days of the late 1950s. Frank was appointed coach for the 1984 tour to Australia  and New Zealand and duly selected five Oldham players; Des Foy, Andy Goodway, Terry Flanagan, Mick Worrall and Ray Ashton, a record for the club.

The condolences of everyone at the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust go out to Frank’s friends and family.

Kevin Taylor RIP

March 2020

The Heritage Trust was sad to learn of the death of ex player Kevin Taylor. A member of the club’s ‘Hall of Fame’ with over 400 appearances for the Roughyeds.  

Kevin Taylor

Indeed, Kevin was one of only seven Oldham players in over 125 years of Rugby League in Oldham to top the 400 games mark with 429 senior games for the Roughyeds.

Born and brought up in the St Mary’s district of the town — an area that has produced numerous rugby league players of repute over the years — Kevin signed for Oldham shortly after his 16th birthday from the then Werneth club.

Originally understudy to Len McIntyre, he made his senior debut at Castleford in the harsh winter season of 1962-63. The next couple of years were spent mostly in the “A” team, but once Kevin got an extended run in the senior side, he would hold down the Oldham hooking position for the next decade. He was also a good player in the loose especially his support play, which twice led to him being top try scorer in 1966-67 & 67-68. In all he scored 60 tries for Oldham and kicked five goals.

Kevin was selected for the England Under 24 team against France in the match that was the first played under the new Watersheddings floodlights in October 1965 and went on to play for Lancashire and England. The full Great Britain international call up eluded him, yet week in and week out Kevin would rake out the ball on the Oldham side of the scrum against all his so-called peers. A model of consistency, Kevin played his last game at Salford on January 2nd, 1977 before moving on to Leigh. A great servant of the club and definitely one of the best hookers never to play for Great Britain!

The condolences of everyone at the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust go to all of Kevin’s family and friends.

Frank Foster RIP

20 December 2019

It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of our former player Frank Foster.

Born in West Cumbria, he played his early rugby with the junior side Grasslot, where he soon made his mark and represented Great Britain at under-19 level.

Workington soon snapped him and he had successful spells with Hull K.R., Bradford and Barrow before ending up at Watersheddings.

He came to Oldham when the club were struggling, having won only six and drawn one of the 21 league matches played in the 1971-72 season. After Frank arrived, the club lost just one more league game out of thirteen and that was in the very last minute at Warrington.

A ball playing prop forward, who had won Cumberland county and full international honours, he had the knack of committing several defenders to the tackle and then releasing the ball from almost impossible situations. Also possessing a tremendous field kicking game, he was an awesome all- round talent who led from the front with never a backward step. Frank was that strange enigma of being as tricky and skilful as any half back, while remaining the toughest and most uncompromising of prop forwards and a good goal kicker to boot. More the pity that the club only had a year and a half of service out of Frank before he retired at the end of the 1972-73 season having made 47 appearances with two tries and  25 goals.

A true Rugby League legend, in my experience, never has a player made such an immediate and positive impression on the club as did Frank Foster.

Jimmy Reynolds RIP

19 December 2019

The Heritage Trust was sad to learn of the death of ex player Jim Reynolds.

Jimmy, as he was known, was a hard-working, tough tackling, loose-forward who always played well above his weight, He joined Oldham from the amateur game in Leigh and made his debut against Dewsbury on September 29th 1970 with Martin Murphy, Phil Larder, Mike Elliott and Kevin Taylor amongst his team-mates.

Jimmy scored 22 tries for Oldham in 137 senior games between 1970 and 1978. The condolences of everyone at the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust go to the Reynolds family.

Hugh Waddell RIP

Nov 1st 2019

It was with much sadness that the Oldham RL Heritage Trust learned of the passing away of former player Hugh Waddell.

A most unlikely rugby league hero, Hugh Waddell walked into Blackpool Borough and asked for a trial as the result of a bet. He was an instant hit at Borough and wore their tangerine colours with distinction for three seasons which won him an England cap against Wales. After a devastating ‘hat-tick’ display at Watersheddings in September 1984 which sent the Roughyeds crashing out of the Lancashire Cup, Oldham duly took note and he signed in January 1987. He became a favourite with the fans as a tough straight running prop forward and soon showed his mettle to the Oldham public in the first round Challenge Cup win over Wigan, when he had a storming game. The following season he played 36 out of a possible 38 games to help the club take the second division Championship and Premiership titles, the latter after that famous encounter with Featherstone Rovers at Old Trafford. Consistent form throughout the season earned him a Great Britain call up, but there were a few raised eyebrows when he was selected for the 1988 tour. “Hughie” went on to prove all the doubters wrong, especially when he turned in another stunning performance in the last test victory, the first against the Aussies for ten years.

Always popular with the Oldham fans, he joined Leeds in September 1988 after making 54 appearances for the Roughyeds scoring seven tries. He later went on to Sheffield, where he helped the Eagles to defeat his former team in the 1990 Divisional Premiership final.


4 August 2019

The Heritage Trust were saddened to hear of the death of Colin Smith.

A prop forward or hooker, Colin signed from Swinton in the autumn of 1967 after previously having played for Blackpool Borough. He made just 19 appearances for the Roughyeds but will be ever remembered for a try saving cover tackle on the Hunslet winger Tommy Thompson in a first round tie at Parkside in February 1968. That effort effectively won the match for Oldham who went on to beat Bradford after a replay before going down to Leeds in the quarter final with each of the three matches attended by crowds in excess of 18,000.

He went on to join the coaching staff at Saddlewoth Rangers and represented the local league on the Lancashire County committee.

A true sportsman Colin will be remembered by many both on and off the field.

Alan Ogden RIP

Alan Ogden

SAD news has reached us from Australia of the death of former Oldham prop Alan Ogden, who was in his early seventies and had been suffering from Alzheimers for a few years.

Local lad Alan, a strong front-row forward with a good pair of hands and a good footballer, emigrated to Perth, Western Australia when his playing days were over.

When he signed in 1965 he faced tremendous competition from more experienced props like Ken Wilson, Charlie Bott, Alf Mumberson and later, Danny Gardiner and Geoff Fletcher and actually made his debut in the second row against Castleford on November 23rd 1965. However, it was soon apparent that Alan’s best position was in the front row where he played the vast majority of his appearances in the Oldham first team.

After 63 games for his home-town club, he was transferred to Leigh for £5,000 in 1971.

The sincere condolences of everyone at the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust are sent out to the Ogden family.

George David Parker RIP

The Heritage Trust is sad to report the death in Hertfordshire of former Oldham loose-forward David Parker, who was club captain in the mid-1960s.

Born in Barrow, G D (George David) Parker made 198 appearances for Roughyeds, scoring 34 tries, during his time at Watersheddings which spanned the seven years from 1960 to 1967.

He came to the Manchester area from Barrow to study at Manchester University and it was while he was excelling for Manchester RU Club, and earning a place in the Lancashire County XV, that he came to the notice of Oldham RLFC.

He turned pro and signed for Oldham in August, 1960, making himself a reputation as a stylish loose-forward with pace, handling skills and a superb defensive game.

He captained Roughyeds, gained county honours and represented Great Britain in two Tests against France in 1964.

Outside rugby, he was in the senior management team at Platt Brothers, who in those days were one of the biggest employers in the town.

In his book, ‘Oldham RLFC, 1876 to 1997’ Mike Turner wrote of Parker:

“A recurrence of a knee injury in the first match of the 1967-68 season against Liverpool City ended the career of one of the most stylish forwards ever to play for the club. He was an excellent defender and also posessed a good turn of speed with superb handling skills.”

Mike Turner

The sincere condolences of the Oldham Rugby League community are extended to the Parker family.

Billy Patterson RIP

The sincere condolences of everyone at the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust are extended to the family of former Roughyeds winger Billy Patterson, who has died at his home in Bredbury.

Billy played 72 senior games for Oldham between 1960 and 1965, mostly on the wing but occasionally at full-back.

Oldham-born, Billy will be remembered fondly by older supporters as a brave-hearted player who never let his lack of weight stop him from giving 100% effort in the Roughyeds’ cause.

He scored 29 tries and kicked 12 goals for a total of 111 points.

Eric Fitzsimons RIP

The Heritage Trust is sad to report the death of ex Roughyed Eric Fitzsimons who passed away on June 2nd.

Eric Fitzsimons

Eric played 46 matches for Oldham between 1978 and 1981 almost all of them on the left wing. In these games he scored 11 tries and kicked 127 goals. 108 of those came in the 1979-80 season.

He also had a successful spell at Hunslet where he still holds the scoring records for points in a season, goals in a career and points in a career since the club was reformed in 1974.

Before taking up rugby league and playing for Oldham and Hunslet, Eric played football for Bury, Oldham Athletic, Hyde United and Bradford Park Avenue.

Eric returned to be the head coach at Watersheddings and led the Roughyeds to promotion and that never to be forgotten 2nd Division premiership final victory over Featherstone Rovers at Old Trafford in 1988.

Geoff Fletcher RIP

All Oldham Rugby League supporters and fans of the game in general will be saddened to learn of the death of former Watersheddings forward Geoff Fletcher at the age of 74.

Geoff made 111 appearances for the Roughyeds between 1965 and 1969 as an uncompromising forward who was also gifted with excellent ball playing skills. He came to Oldham from Leigh as a second-row or loose-forward but soon moved up to prop. A natural leader he became club captain was soon a firm favourite with the Oldham supporters. Successive stand-off halves, Tommy Warburton and Wilf Briggs benefited from Geoff’s distribution skills with many tries for the Roughyeds as did speedy second-row forward, Bob Irving.

He played in Oldham’s Lancashire Cup finals of 1966 and 1968 being the captain in the latter against St Helens in the 1968 final at Central Park, Wigan when he was forced to retire at half-time with a broken arm. The following year he left to sign for Wigan.

In all, he had three spells at Leigh and another at Workington before ending up at Huyton, where he was to stay for many years and where he became the man who kept that club going in its various guises as Huyton, Runcorn Highfield, Highfield and Prescott Panthers. He was player-coach, coach, groundsman and eventually chairman when he put his boots away for the last time after a career of 559 games in total.

One of the great characters of the game!

Dick Bonser RIP

The Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust is sad to announce the death ex-Roughyed Dick Bonser on Tuesday 29 th August 2017 at the age of 79.

Bonsor RichardJames Richard Bonser originally signed for Swinton from the Rochdale Rugby Union club and was part of the Lions team that were double champions in the early 1960s. He later had spells at Widnes and Huyton before coming to Oldham in September 1970. Playing at prop or in the second row, he made 39 appearance for the Roughyeds before going back to Rochdale to coach at Mayfield ARLFC.

He later went on to serve on the board at Rochdale Hornets and subsequently became club chairman.

Sid Little OBE RIP

The Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust is sad to report that, Oldham rugby league great Sid Little OBE has died at the age 87.

A native of Kirkbride, Cumberland, but brought up in nearby Burgh-by-Sands, the former RAF pilot joined Oldham during the 1951-52 season, having previously played rugby union for both Harlequins and the Cumberland county side.

On his arrival in Oldham, he and his wife Valerie, the daughter of Oldham’s stalwart loose forward and Welsh Rugby Union international Emlyn Watkins, lived in Werneth, before moving to Moorside, where they stayed until Little’s position as a company director required a move to the Midlands. A devastating, running second row forward, he formed a tremendous back row partnership with Charlie Winslade in the entertaining Oldham side of the 1950s.

His talents were soon recognised by the rugby league selectors, the pinnacle of his international career was scoring a try against the 1956 touring Australians in the third and final Test at Swinton. This not only equalled the biggest margin of victory for the British against the Kangaroos in an Ashes Test, 19-0, but both sealed the series 2-1 while at the same time regaining the Ashes. This was the commencement of 10 consecutive international appearances for Little, interestingly most of them at prop forward.

He represented Great Britain in the 1957 World Cup played in Australia and in which the British were runners-up to the home side. He also played in four promotional matches under the banner Great Britain XIII against the French. Three of these were played in South Africa and the other in New Zealand.

Including two promotional matches in Australia against Western Australia and Queensland, Little played in a massive 58 competitive matches during the 1957-58 season. Along with his Oldham team-mates Derek Turner, Frank Pitchford, Ken Jackson, and Alan Davies, Sid was then selected for the 1958 tour to Australia, but due to his wife Valerie expecting a family addition, declined the invitation. While at Watersheddings, Little, who also represented Cumberland at rugby league, played 249 times for Oldham scoring 49 tries.

Included in these statistics are the three consecutive Lancashire Cup final victories against in 1956-57-58, the 1957 Championship final against Hull, plus the defeats to Barrow in the 1954 Lancashire Cup final and Warrington in the 1955 Championship final.

The season 1957-58 saw Oldham top the league, winning 33 and drawing one of their 38 league games. Little, a member of the Oldham Rugby League Hall of Fame, also played for the Cumberland county rugby league side on eight occasions.

In December, 1982 he was awarded an OBE for his services to the Air Training Corps, Staffordshire, which he had served since 1970, holding the rank of Wing Commander.

Whenever asked to do so, Little would gladly point his car in the direction of Oldham. Whatever the event, he would lend his support, but understandably the occasions which he enjoyed the most were those which he could share with his colleagues from that glorious era of yesteryear.

Alex Givvons Jnr RIP

The local Rugby league fraternity was saddened to learn of the death of Alex Givvons, a leading rugby league referee in the 1970s and 1980s. Alex died in hospital after a short illness. He was 82.

A GivvThe elder son of an Oldham Rugby League Club legend, Alex Givvons snr., he followed his father’s example by playing rugby league professionally, as a centre or winger, for Halifax, Swinton and Blackpool Borough.

For part of his time at Blackpool, he played centre to the great Brian Bevan, the famous Australian, who was by then in the twilight of his career after serving Warrington for many years as one of the sport’s best-ever wingers.

Before turning pro, Alex played for St Patrick’s, Saddleworth Rangers, Oldham St Anne’s and Oldham Rugby Union clubs.

He was an all-round sportsman, who represented Lancashire at polo; played golf at Crompton and Royton where he was president in 2008; and enjoyed tennis at Manor Tennis Club in Waterhead.

In later life, as a former rugby league referee, he picked up his pen to write a regular article in the Oldham RL Club’s match-day programme, headed ‘Alex Rules OK’.