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Five more things you didn't know about Oldham

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1 .. Oldham defeated a World Cup winning team.

In preparation for the 1972 World Cup in France the Great Britain team played a friendly at Watersheddings against Oldham - and lost 18-15.  Less than four weeks later Great Britain were lifting the trophy as World Champions. More remarkable is that Oldham had been deprived of playing their own member of that GB squad, second-rower Bob Irving, whose name was in the programme to play for Oldham yet was "transferred" to the national side just minutes before the kick-off. Furthermore the Great Britain side that night featured 13 of the 15 players who would go on to be part of the team in the World Cup Final.

2 .. Oldham's players paid at the turnstiles when playing an away match - and lost in one of the biggest RL upsets of all time.

The 1956-57 season saw Oldham finish as Rugby League Champions having won the play-off final against Hull while also having ended the regular season as league leaders and winning 33 of their 38 league matches. They had achieved a 100% record at Watersheddings while the five defeats had been away to Workington, Barrow, York and Warrington (all near the top of the table) ..... and Liverpool City, who themselves only won 9 games all season and finished in 27th position out of the 30 clubs in the league.  That 8-16 defeat at Liverpool had been Oldham's first loss of the season, having won all their previous 11 matches, while the players had also tried to help their host's finances by agreeing to pay at the turnstiles before entering the ground to play. However, the players were certainly not in the same benevolent mood when the return game took place later in the season which Oldham won 56-5.

3 .. A former Oldham player only lost on points in a contest against a boxing World Champion.

Ken "Tug" Wilson was a prop-forward for 12 years at Oldham in the 1960s/70s having signed for the club after representing England at Rugby Union. However, prior to any rugby activity Ken was well-known as an amateur boxer and became the RAF heavyweight champion. During his boxing career he had many notable sucesses including a win over Billy Walker who was to go on to become a legend in British heavyweight boxing. One of Ken's other contests saw him up against Bob Foster of the USA and to whom he only lost on points against someone who was to go on to become the World Light-Heavyweight champion and dominate that division in the 1960s/70s before retiring undefeated.

4 ... Oldham had one of "their own players" sent off against them.

On 15 September 1965 Oldham second-row forward Harry Major was transferred to Wigan and played his first match for his new club the following day ... at Watersheddings against Oldham. The transfer had gone through so quickly that Harry Major's name was still shown in the match programme on the Oldham team list.  It wasn't a good start for Wigan's new signing as not only did Oldham win the game 28-13 but Major was sent off after punching one of his former team mates. The following night's Oldham Chronicle included a report of the match and showed a photo of Major walking off the field along with the headline "The Marching Major".

5 .. Oldham could have been "The Birthplace of Rugby League"

One of the prime activists for the Northern breakaway from the Rugby Football Union in 1895 was Oldham official Joseph Platt who arranged various meetings in order to discuss how clubs in the region should progress in the dispute with the RFU over broken-time payments.  Joseph Platt had his own offices in Queen Street, Oldham yet arranged for meetings - including the most relevant on 29 August 1895 - to take place at the George Hotel, Huddersfield. However, at that historic meeting Joseph Platt was elected as the first secretary of the new organisation and from then until his retirement in 1922 ran the affairs of the Northern Union from his Oldham base and where a blue plaque is on display to record his contribution to the birth of our game.

plaque.jpg.7c8c915935ce9650d94acb76faee68c1.jpg

 

Edited by RL does what Sky says
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1 hour ago, RL does what Sky says said:

1 .. Oldham defeated a World Cup winning team.

In preparation for the 1972 World Cup in France the Great Britain team played a friendly at Watersheddings against Oldham - and lost 18-15. 

That was a good night!

I was in the upper tier of the double-decker Hutchens stand (which nobody I know ever called it that...it was always the "Pigeon Loft") when Frank Foster smashed a drop goal from fully forty yards out and on the angle with only minutes left on the clock. It barely cleared the bar but was hit with such force that it would have made the distance had he took a pot shot from the halfway line. Had it been higher up I would have caught it as I was exactly in the line of fire. ?

Almost forty eight years ago, and still crystal clear in the memory bank.

1 hour ago, RL does what Sky says said:

3 .. A former Oldham player only lost on points in a contest against a boxing World Champion.

Ken "Tug" Wilson was a prop-forward for 12 years at Oldham in the 1960s/70s having signed for the club after representing England at Rugby Union. However, prior to any rugby activity Ken was well-known as an amateur boxer and became the RAF heavyweight champion. During his boxing career he had many notable sucesses including a win over Billy Walker who was to go on to become a legend in British heavyweight boxing. One of Ken's other contests saw him up against Bob Foster of the USA and to whom he only lost on points against someone who was to go on to become the World Light-Heavyweight champion and dominate that division in the 1960s/70s before retiring undefeated.

Although more than capable, I don't remember Tug Wilson ever trading blows with an opponent. That was in the era of brutal and incendiary scrums and punch ups all over the park. I'm not saying he didn't take a few swings, but he certainly wasn't known for it on the pitch....or was he?

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On 29/04/2020 at 22:07, Pigeon Lofter said:

That was a good night!

I was in the upper tier of the double-decker Hutchens stand (which nobody I know ever called it that...it was always the "Pigeon Loft") when Frank Foster smashed a drop goal from fully forty yards out and on the angle with only minutes left on the clock. It barely cleared the bar but was hit with such force that it would have made the distance had he took a pot shot from the halfway line. Had it been higher up I would have caught it as I was exactly in the line of fire. ?

Almost forty eight years ago, and still crystal clear in the memory bank.

Although more than capable, I don't remember Tug Wilson ever trading blows with an opponent. That was in the era of brutal and incendiary scrums and punch ups all over the park. I'm not saying he didn't take a few swings, but he certainly wasn't known for it on the pitch....or was he?

Yes on that night against GB Frank Foster certainly had a point to prove having been left out of the World Cup squad. He therefore took on the full might of the entire British forwards and came out on top. He had single-handedly transformed Oldham from a bottom-of-the-table team to being top of the league in less than a year but that night he was on a personal mission and gave his best ever performance in an Oldham shirt.

Ken Wilson was the ultimate professional and like any decent person who does boxing, karate, judo, etc, he never used his skills in that respect when out of the ring.

And the headline of this article certainly shows what an unassuming person he was when he can be described as such ....  https://www.granthammatters.co.uk/kenneth-tug-wilson22/

After retiring at Oldham he became a coach at the local Waterhead amateur club and where he guided many players who went on achieve greatness in the game, as told in this extract (page 23) from Paul Sculthorpe's autobiography, "Sculthorpe, Man of Steel" .... 

"The Waterhead gym was run by Ken "Tug" Wilson, another ex-Oldham player, and a man to whom I owe a great deal for instilling the proper attitude to discipline and training. Tug was mentor to countless future pros, including the likes of Barrie McDermott, Kevin Sinfield and Paul Highton. Sadly Tug died a few years ago but will never be forgotten."

 

Edited by RL does what Sky says
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  I knew about the Odlham v G Britain practice match as it is in Terry Clawsons book All The Wrong Moves although he didnt mention the score.Terry had been called up into the side as Mick Harrison was injured.A couple of weeks before the game Terry broke his hand playing for Leeds and had to have a pot on up to the elbow.When he got the letter calling up to the squad he cut the pot off  and his wife Jean strapped it up for him.He played in the game and although his hand was sore came through O.K.and played in the World Cup winning side.

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On 30/04/2020 at 15:22, sentoffagain2 said:

  I knew about the Odlham v G Britain practice match as it is in Terry Clawsons book All The Wrong Moves although he didnt mention the score.Terry had been called up into the side as Mick Harrison was injured.A couple of weeks before the game Terry broke his hand playing for Leeds and had to have a pot on up to the elbow.When he got the letter calling up to the squad he cut the pot off  and his wife Jean strapped it up for him.He played in the game and although his hand was sore came through O.K.and played in the World Cup winning side.

Yes, Terry was the goalkicker for the GB side and kicked two goals for GB that night. John Holmes kicked another while tries came from Paul Charlton, Clive Sullivan and Dennis O'Neil. Tries for Oldham were scored by Terry Gorman (2), Kevin Taylor and Chris O'Brien while Phil Larder landed two goals and Frank Foster one.

Terry Clawson, of course, kicked the famous penalty goal for GB in the World Cup group match due to John Atkinson having been fouled after scoring a try. At that time the rule wasn't in the book but after the French referee awarded it then the RL authorities decided to adopt it.

When Frank Foster retired at the end of that season it was Terry Clawson who Oldham signed as a replacement while his son Neil also played for the club in the late 1980s.

This is the link to see the programme for that Oldham v Gt.Britain match in 1972 ... 

https://heritagetrust.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/2019/11/19721018-Great-Britain.pdf

 

Edited by RL does what Sky says
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In relation to "Number 5" on the list shown in the opening post of this thread, here is a link to an Oldham prgramme of 1910 (courtesy of the Oldham RL Heritage website) which includes an article on page 12 concerning the impact Joseph Platt had during the formative years of the then Northern Union.

https://heritagetrust.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/2019/11/19101001-Ebbw-Vale.pdf

As shown in the above post, there is a blue plaque on Queen Street, Oldham indicating the offices from where Joseph Platt conducted the administration of the Northern Union from it's formation until 1922 .... which could perhaps be used as part of a RL Heritage Trail for when people visit this country for next year's World Cup. 

Edited by RL does what Sky says
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Another unusual fact concerning matches Oldham have played on today's date (18 June) ....

In their history Oldham have played 3 matches on 18 June ...

1999  Batley  Drew 20 - 20,       2000  Widnes  Won 34 - 16,         2017  Halifax  Lost 12 - 30

Pl 3    W 1   D1   L1      For 66    Against  66

So, on the 18th day of the 6th month ....

Oldham drew 1,   won 1 by 18pts,   lost 1 by 18pts;    scored 66 points,   conceded 66 points !

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On 30/04/2020 at 15:51, RL does what Sky says said:

Tries for Oldham were scored by Terry Gorman (2)

We hit on the Oldham/Leigh connection recently and here is another my old mucker Terry Gorman, and one more Leigh lad in the Oldham team that night the great Martin Murphy isn't he in Oldham's Hall of Fame?

Just thinking perhaps you could clarify for me, re another Leyther would Dave Bradbury be the last Oldham player selected to go on a GB tour when he went to NZ in '96?

Edited by Harry Stottle

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2 hours ago, Harry Stottle said:

We hit on the Oldham/Leigh connection recently and here is another my old mucker Terry Gorman, and one more Leigh lad in the Oldham team that night the great Martin Murphy isn't he in Oldham's Hall of Fame?

Just thinking perhaps you could clarify for me, re another Leyther would Dave Bradbury be the last Oldham player selected to go on a GB tour when he went to NZ in '96?

Yes, Terry Gorman actually came to Oldham just as the "A" team coach but due to injuries was drafted into the first team for the friendly they played against Great Britain .. and scored 2 tries as Oldham beat the team who were to become World Champions just a few weeks later.

Because of that he kept his place and in the next match scored a winning drop-goal in a televised 9-7 victory over Castleford in the BBC2 Floodlit Trophy. Over the next two seasons he again stepped in to play occasionally due to injuries to other players. This is Terry's Oldham record from the Oldham RL Heritage website https://orl-heritagetrust.org.uk/player/terry-gorman/  You might note that his records show just one try scored whereas he had scored 2 against Gt.Britain ... the GB match was not deemed to be a "first-class" match and therefore those tries are not included in players' records.

Yes, Martin Murphy is in the Oldham Hall of Fame and is third in the club's all-time apperance list - and top of the post-WW2 list. In fact, following that BBC2 win over Castleford (as mentioned above) Oldham played away at Leigh in the semi-final, and although Oldham lost 8-10, Martin scored a length-of-the-field try, fending off several would-be tacklers and which won him the BBC "Try of the season" award. As you say, he was also a Leigh lad, and I always remember Eddie Waring's commentary when he had scored the try .. "Although playing for Oldham, he lives only half a mile from this ground and I bet it seemed all that distance as he ran." These are his Oldham career details .. https://orl-heritagetrust.org.uk/player/martin-murphy/

You are correct about David Bradbury; the tour was to both New Zealand and Papau New Guinea. Again, these are his Oldham career records .. https://orl-heritagetrust.org.uk/player/david-bradbury/

Edited by RL does what Sky says
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Another Oldham fact is that they played a South Sydney XIII when Souths were out of the NRL Competition back in November 2001 a 14-14 draw. IIRC I was at that game.

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42 minutes ago, THE RED ROOSTER said:

Another Oldham fact is that they played a South Sydney XIII when Souths were out of the NRL Competition back in November 2001 a 14-14 draw. IIRC I was at that game.

To remind you of it (although, apart from it being in 2000 and just prior to the new season, it seems you already remember it very well !) courtesy of the Oldham RL Heritage website   https://orl-heritagetrust.org.uk/game/oldham-v-south-sydney-4175/

Also the programme   https://heritagetrust.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/2019/11/20001119-South-Sydney.pdf

Edited by RL does what Sky says

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The RL Record Keepers' Club have recently reassigned some matches from the 1918-19 season as senior games instead of friendlies which, among other alterations to various individual appearance and scoring records, means that Joe Ferguson's Oldham appearance record has been increased by four to 631.

This is not only significant for the Oldham club but also to Rugby League in general as Joe Ferguson already held the record for most apperances by a one-club player since RL was formed in 1895 and which has therefore now increased.

These are the details courtesy of the Oldham RL Heritage website ...

https://orl-heritagetrust.org.uk/2020/07/11/joe-ferguson-still-breaking-records/

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