Category: Obituaries

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.


COLIN SMITH RIP

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’.