Oldham Rugby League football Club, is a professional rugby league football club based in Oldham, Greater Manchester, England.[2][3] The club plays home games at Boundary Park and competes in League One, the third tier of British rugby league.

Oldham R.L.F.C.
Club information
Full nameOldham Rugby League Football Club[1]
Short nameOldham
Founded1876; 147 years ago (1876)
(as Oldham FC)
Exited1997; 26 years ago (1997)
(as Oldham Bears)
Readmitted1998; 25 years ago (1998)
(as Oldham RLFC (1997)[1])
CoachSean Long
ManagerBill Quinn
CaptainMartyn Ridyard
CompetitionLeague 1
2023 season4th
Current season
Home colours
Champions4 (1904–05, 1909–10, 1910–11, 1956–57)
Challenge Cups3 (1898–99, 1924–25, 1926–27)
Lancashire County Cup9 (1906–07, 1909–10, 1912–13, 1918–19, 1923–24, 1932–33, 1955–56, 1956–57, 1957–58)
Lancashire League7 (1897–98, 1900–01, 1907–08, 1909–10, 1921–22, 1956–57, 1957–58)
Second Division3 (1963–64, 1981–82, 1987–88)
Most capped627 – Joe Ferguson
Highest points scorer2,761 – Bernard Ganley

Oldham have won the League Championship four times, Challenge Cup three times and the Second Division three times.

The clubs traditional home kits are red and white hooped jerseys, navy blue shorts and red socks. They share a local rivalry with Rochdale Hornets as well as Salford Red Devils and Swinton Lions and a cross county rivalry with Huddersfield Giants and Halifax.

History edit

Early years edit

In 1876, Oldham Football Club was founded in a meeting at the Prince Albert Hotel, Union Street West, attended by Chairman of the Watch Committee, William Chadwick, Chief Constable Charles Hodgkinson, mill owner Fred Wild, eminent local Quaker and Lord to be Alfred Emmott and three brothers of the Fletcher family.

A playing field was organised at Sugar Meadow, Gartside Street adjacent to Glodwick Spinning Mill and changing facilities were provided by the nearby Shakespeare Inn. The club's headquarters were at the Black Swan Hotel, Bottom O'th Moor, Mumps. Their first match at Sugar Meadow was held on 21 October 1876 against Stalybridge. After two seasons they joined Oldham Cricket Club at the new Clarksfield ground before finding a more permanent home in 1889 at Watersheddings.

The Oldham team that won the Northern RFU championship in 1898

Oldham were one of the twenty-one clubs that left the Rugby Football Union to form the Northern Union in 1895. Oldham were fourth in the first title race of 1895–96 and second a year later. They were the second club to win the Challenge Cup after beating Hunslet 19–9 in 1899. Batley had won the first two finals.

Oldham finally won their first Championship title in 1904–05, just edging out Bradford Northern by three points. Oldham won the Lancashire League in 1897–98, 1900–01 and 1907–08 as well as the Lancashire County Cup in 1906–07. In the 1907–08 season, Oldham finished as league leaders but Hunslet were crowned champions in their historic all-four cups season after winning the Championship Final 12–2 in a replay after an initial 7–7 draw.

Another title success followed in 1909–10 as they beat Wigan in the Championship final. Also in that same season they managed to win the Lancashire League and Lancashire Cup. The following season, 1910–11, they beat Wigan again in the Championship final.

Oldham's record attendance was set in 1912 when the visit of Huddersfield for a league match drew 28,000 spectators.

Oldham won the Lancashire League in 1921–22 and the Lancashire Cup in 1912–13, 1918–19 and 1923–24. The annual Law Cup was first contested against neighbours Rochdale Hornets on 7 May 1921. Having lost in the 1907, 1912 and 1924 Challenge Cup Finals, they finally won the trophy again in 1925 when they beat Hull Kingston Rovers 16–3 at Headingley, Leeds.

They beat the visiting Australasian team of the 1921–22 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain 15–5.

The club's last Challenge Cup final was in 1927 when they beat Swinton 26–7 at Central Park, Wigan, their fourth consecutive final and revenge for their 9–3 defeat when the same teams met in the previous year's match. In 1932–33, Oldham won the Lancashire Cup again.

Post-war edit

In the 1950s, Oldham won the Championship and other trophies with a side that included Alan Davies, John Etty, goalkicker Bernard Ganley, Jack Keith, Sid Little, Frank Pitchford, Derek 'Rocky' Turner, Don Vines and Charlie Winslade.

On Monday 15 September 1952, record receipts were taken from a gate of 19,370 at Watersheddings to watch Oldham take on the Kangaroo tourists. The Australians lost only one of twenty-two club matches in Britain during that tour, but came close to defeat at Oldham, where the Roughyeds held them to a 7–7 draw.

Oldham played in the 1954–55 Championship Final at Maine Road, Manchester against Warrington. They also lost the Lancashire Cup final in a 2–12 defeat by Barrow in 1954.

Oldham's success in the 1950s also included a Championship title – in 1956–57; the Lancashire League 1956–57 and 1957–58 and the Lancashire Cup 1955–56, 1956–57 and 1957–58. Oldham lost 16–13 to Wigan in the 1966 Lancashire Cup Final. In 1964, Oldham reached the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup against Hull Kingston Rovers, the tie is remembered for taking three games to find the winner, the first match at Headingley finished 5–5, the replay at Station Road, Swinton finished prematurely 17–14 in Oldham's favour when the game was abandoned midway through the second half due to bad light, and the third game was won by Hull Kingston Rovers 12–2 at Fartown, Huddersfield.

Oldham were Division Two champions in 1963–64.

At the end of a disastrous 1969–70 season, when Oldham finished 29th out of 30 clubs in a single division, the committee was voted out of office en bloc and replaced by nine new officials and a new chairman in Arthur Walker. They brought in Graham Starkey as player-coach.

Dave Cox coached Oldham for 18 months until December 1978.

In the 1983–84 season, Oldham lost just two of their opening 11 Division One fixtures but collapsed around Christmas. After four defeats in five games, January's home game against Leigh descended into a mass brawl before the referee abandoned the match. Both clubs were fined £1,000 and coach Peter Smethurst decided to quit. The club committee asked his assistant, Frank Barrow to step into the breach. His first game was against rock-bottom Whitehaven, winless after 22 matches. But the Cumbrians ran in seven tries, handing Oldham a 42–8 mauling, and prompting Barrow to resign minutes after the game. He was replaced on a temporary basis by Brian Gartland.[4]

Oldham pleaded with the local council for a financial bail-out in April 1987. Oldham decided to float as a public limited company and sold their training ground to the council in May 1987. Oldham won the 1988 Division Two title and the Division Two Premiership but lost £135,000. They would win the Premiership again in 1989–90.

Peter Tunks took over a coaching role with Oldham. Tunk's brief was clear: He had to sell most of his first team squad that had been relegated twice in 3 years, help to pay a tax bill of over 1 million pounds and sign promising players from the junior ranks. He narrowly missed promotion in the first year and took the team to the grand final where they were narrowly beaten. Over the next 2 years he got promotion to the top level for all the Oldham teams whilst getting young players like Chris Joynt, Barrie McDermott, David Bradbury, Gary Christie and Tommy Martyn to international level but due to the clubs massive debts run up by the previous management, Tunks was forced to sell his best players. Bob Lindner took over as captain-coach. The club sold the dilapidated Watersheddings in June 1994 for £1.25m to pay-off debts and moved to Oldham Athletic's Boundary Park stadium on the nearby Chadderton/Royton boundary.

Oldham Bears club logo

When a Rupert Murdoch funded Super League competition was proposed, part of the deal was that some traditional clubs would merge. Oldham were supposed to merge with Salford to form a club to be known as Manchester which would compete in the Super League. When Salford visited Oldham for a match on Good Friday, 14 April, supporters of both clubs demonstrated against the unpopular idea by invading the pitch during the interval. This merger was resisted and instead they adopted the name Oldham Bears and were founder members of the new league.

Relegation came in the second year of the new summer season, 1997, when they finished below Paris Saint-Germain. Later that year, under chairman Jim Quinn, they went bankrupt with debts of £2,000,000.[5] A new team Oldham Roughyeds was then formed in December to play at a lower level.[6] The new club was created by Chris Hamilton and a band of three directors. The Roughyeds tag had been a long accepted nickname for the old club. It is however generally accepted that the new club (Oldham Roughyeds) is a legal continuation of the old club formed in 1876.

The Millennium edit

Mike Ford retired as player-coach of Oldham in 2001 and in January the following year took up a post as defensive co-ordinator with the Irish Rugby Football Union. Oldham put Mark Knight in temporary charge of the first team.[7] After a successful 2001 season, they narrowly missed out on promotion to the Super League, losing to Widnes 12–24 in the Northern Ford Premiership Grand Final.

During the 2002 season they played at Ashton United's Hurst Cross ground in Ashton-under-Lyne, due to a dispute with Oldham Athletic over the use of Boundary Park.

Steve Molloy took charge of the Roughyeds after former boss John Harbin left to join Oldham Athletic as fitness conditioner and sports psychologist in July 2002.[8] Under Molloy, Oldham won seven and drew two of their last 14 games.[9] In doing so Oldham finished high enough to gain entry into National League One when the Northern Ford Premiership was split into two. In the first season of National League One, 2003, Oldham reached the last four of the play-offs. Although they still made the play-offs for the next couple of seasons trouble was waiting in the wings. Those troubles surfaced in March 2005, Oldham entered a creditors' voluntary agreement (CVA) with total debts of £325,000.[5]

John Pendlebury resigned after three games as coach in March 2006 and was replaced by Steve Deakin, with very little money to spend and a poor squad the team finished the 2006 season with only one league win and were relegated to National League Two, the season ended on a high note though because the club paid its final payment of the CVA and would start the next season debt free. The Roughyeds also announced that they would stay at Boundary Park for the 2007 season after reaching agreement on a sliding scale rent.[10]

2007 – new ownership edit

In 2007, a few games into the new season, the excavation and demolition firm, the William Quinn Group, acquired a 52% stake in the club. That stake was later increased to 75%. Bill Quinn became the club's new chairman, with previous owners Chris Hamilton and Sean Whitehead remaining as directors.[11]

On Friday 4 May 2007, Oldham took part in the first ever National League Two match broadcast live on British television, on Sky Sports. They won 34–26 away to the Crusaders in Bridgend, having trailed by 20 points after 45 minutes. The match was considered a warm-up for the Millennium Magic weekend in Cardiff the following day and, due to fans of Super League teams attending, attracted National League Two's highest ever attendance of 3,441.

That National League Two attendance record was broken in the return fixture on Thursday, 30 August 2007 between Oldham and Crusaders, again in front of the Sky Sports cameras, when 4,327 fans turned up at Boundary Park beating the old record by 886. it was also Oldham's largest attendance since the early 1990s. The event also raised around £8,000 for local charities and the rugby league players' benevolent fund.

Oldham finished their most successful season in recent years in 4th place on the National League Two table, they then played and won games against Swinton at home then Barrow away in the play-off to reach the National League Two Grand Final, but the game seemed a step too far for Oldham going down to an inspired Featherstone Rovers team at Headingley.

2008 season summary edit

Northern Rail Cup – Oldham enjoyed reasonable success in the Northern Rail Cup, achieving a win over National League One favourites, Salford at Boundary Park to enable them to make it through the group stage of the competition into the knockout stages where they faced and beat another National League One team in Whitehaven to progress to the quarter finals against Batley at Mount Pleasant, in a see-saw battle Oldham's challenge died thanks to a dubious referee call followed up by a quick fire Batley try.

Challenge Cup – Oldham were the last non-Super League club to be knocked out of the 2008 Challenge Cup, going as far as the quarter finals before being beaten by Wakefield Trinity at Belle Vue.

National League Two – Despite winning more games and losing less games than Barrow but only winning 1 bonus point (to Barrow's 5 points) all season Oldham finished 3rd in National League Two on points difference behind Barrow who came 2nd and Gateshead who won the league, Oldham would again have to face the route of the play-offs and like the previous year Oldham again reached the National League Two Grand Final, this time against Doncaster and like 2007 Oldham again lost to miss out on promotion to National League One losing 18–10 at Warrington's Halliwell Jones Stadium, as a result of not gaining promotion to National League One coach Steve Deakin did not have his contract renewed.

2009 season summary edit

Tony Benson became head coach of Oldham.[12]

2009 Championship 1 – Oldham finished fourth in the 2009 Co-operative Championship One table with a record of 10–1–7. The Roughyeds won 31–26 at home to Swinton in the first round of the play-offs before winning 54–30 at home to Hunslet Hawks. That set up a final eliminator against York City Knights, who finished third in the table, and the Roughyeds upset the hosts by winning 44–14 to reach the Grand Final again. But Oldham were beaten in the Grand Final for a third straight year, losing 28–26 to Keighley, who finished second in the table.

Roughyeds were told they would no longer be able to use Oldham Athletic's Boundary Park in November 2009. The club went to Oldham Council for help. Oldham Council bought Whitebank Stadium from Oldham Boro F.C. and then entered into a lease agreement with Oldham Roughyeds RLFC.[13]

The 2010 season saw a transition with the five home games were played out of town at Sedgley Park R.U.F.C.'s Park Lane ground in Whitefield. Roughyeds' first game at Whitebank took place on 9 May 2010 with the opposition being York. This was the first time that Oldham had played in a ground within Oldham borough since 1997. Home crowds are nearly double at Whitebank compared to Park Lane.

2010s edit

Oldham suffered relegation to League 1 at the end of the 2017 Championship season.[14] In 2019, they earned promotion back to the Championship after defeating Newcastle in the League 1 play off final.[15]

2020s edit

In the 2021 Championship season, Oldham finished second bottom on the table and were relegated back to League 1 having just won two matches all season.[16]

In the 2022 League 1 season, Oldham finished sixth with a record of 8 wins, 1 draw, 11 losses and lost in the Play Off Q+E (qualification and elimination) round against Rochdale Hornets 38-24.

In the 2023 RFL League 1 season, Oldham finished fourth with a record 12 wins, 1 draw and 5 losses. in the Qualifying & elimination play-offs they lost 36-0 to Doncaster_R.L.F.C. and lost 13-12 to North Wales Crusaders in the Semi Finals

Past coaches edit

Also see Category:Oldham R.L.F.C. coaches.

2023 squad edit

2023 Oldham RLFC Squad
First team squad Coaching staff

Head coach

Assistant coach

  • (c) Captain(s)
  • (vc) Vice captain(s)

Updated: 20 October 2023
Source(s): [1]

2024 transfers edit


Player Club Contract Date


Player Club Contract Date
Joe Hartley Rochdale Hornets September 2023[17]

Players edit

Seasons edit

Super League era edit

Season League Play-offs Challenge Cup Other competitions Name Tries Name Points
Division P W D L F A Pts Pos Top try scorer Top point scorer
1996 Super League 22 9 1 12 473 681 19 8th R4
1997 Super League 22 4 1 17 461 631 9 12th QF
1998 Division Two 20 10 1 9 399 383 21 5th R3 Trans-Pennine Cup RU
1999 Northern Ford Premiership 28 5 2 21 449 999 12 17th R5
2000 Northern Ford Premiership 28 19 1 8 734 513 39 6th R4
2001 Northern Ford Premiership 28 21 0 7 780 416 42 4th Lost in Final R5
2002 Northern Ford Premiership 27 13 3 11 748 553 29 9th Lost in Week 3 R4
2003 National League One 18 7 2 9 404 500 16 5th Lost in Elimination Playoffs R4
2004 National League One 18 10 0 8 482 503 20 4th Lost in Elimination Playoffs R5
2005 National League One 18 6 1 11 455 545 13 7th R4
2006 National League One 18 0 0 18 220 944 0 10th R4
2007 National League Two 22 16 0 6 661 420 53 4th R5
2008 National League Two 22 17 0 5 716 456 52 3rd QF
2009 Championship 1 18 10 1 7 618 449 35 4th R5
2010 Championship 1 20 17 0 3 694 438 52 2nd Lost in Final R4
2011 Championship 1 20 11 0 9 641 533 36 7th R4
2012 Championship 1 18 7 1 10 465 485 28 6th Lost in Elimination Playoffs R5
2013 Championship 1 16 12 1 3 508 289 41 2nd Lost in Final R3
2014 Championship 1 19 14 4 1 607 433 45 3rd Lost in Final R4
2015 Championship 1 22 19 3 0 840 362 38 1st R4
2016 Championship 23 7 0 16 401 678 14 10th R6
Championship Shield 30 10 0 20 523 888 20 6th
2017 Championship 23 5 1 17 410 735 11 11th R5
Championship Shield 30 6 2 22 530 939 14 7th
2018 League 1 26 16 0 10 902 325 32 5th Lost in Semi Final R5
2019 League 1 20 15 0 5 655 341 30 2nd Won in Final R4 1895 Cup R2
2020 Championship[a] 5 1 0 4 46 158 2 12th R4
2021 Championship 22 2 1 19 404 773 5 14th Did not qualify R4[b] 1895 Cup R2
2022 League 1 20 8 1 11 571 526 17 6th Lost in Elimination Playoffs R2
2023 League 1 18 12 1 5 605 333 25 4th Lost in Semi-final R2

Honours edit

Records edit

  • Attendance for a league match: 28,000 vs. Huddersfield Giants – 24 February 1912 at Watersheddings, Oldham
  • Attendance in a cup match: 25,000 vs. Huddersfield Giants – 23 March 1912, Challenge Cup 3rd Round at Watersheddings, Oldham
  • Record attendance (all games) : 62,217 vs. Hull F.C. – 18 May 1957. Championship Final at Odsal Stadium, Bradford
  • Super League attendance record : 7,709 vs. Wigan Warriors – 30 March 1996 at Boundary Park, Oldham
  • National League Two attendance record : 4,327 vs. Celtic Crusaders – 30 August 2007 at Boundary Park, Oldham
  • International tour match attendance record : 19,620 vs. Australia – 15 September 1952 at Watersheddings, Oldham
  • Record victory: 102–6 vs. West Wales Raiders - 8 July 2018
  • Record defeat: 0–84 vs. Widnes Vikings – 25 July 1999
  • Most all-time appearances: Joe Ferguson - 627 from September 1899 - April 1923
  • Most consecutive appearances: Joe Lawton - 134 from September 1897 - November 1902
  • Most goals in a season: Bernard Ganley – 224 goals in season 1957–58
  • Most tries in a season: Reginald "Reg" Farrar – 49 tries in season 1921–22
  • Most all-time tries: Alan Davies - 174 from 1950 to 1961
  • Most points in a match: Bernard Ganley – 28 points vs. Liverpool City, April 1959
  • Most points in a season: Bernard Ganley - 412 points in season 1957-58
  • Most drop goals in a season: Ray Ashton - 9 in season 1979-80

The Law Cup edit

The Law Cup is an annual pre-season friendly match between Oldham and Rochdale Hornets, first contested in 1921 as the Infirmaries Cup and later renamed after the Rochdale MP Alfred Law who had originally donated the trophy. As of 2019 Oldham have won 45 to Rochdale Hornets' 20 with 2 drawn games.[18][19]

Notes edit

  1. ^ The 2020 Championship was abandoned due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom. Statistics shown are those at time of abandonment and are not official.
  2. ^ Officially round 2 due to the competitions temporary restructure in 2021.

References edit

  1. ^ a b "Oldham Rugby League Football Club (1997) Limited". Companies House. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
  2. ^ "Welcome to the Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust". Oldham Rugby League Heritage Trust. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  3. ^ "Operational Rules". RFL. Archived from the original on 8 October 2017. Retrieved 10 March 2017.
  4. ^ Marsden, Carl (11 February 2009). "Managerial merry-go-round left rugby faithful in a spin". Oldham Advertiser. M.E.N. Media.
  5. ^ a b "Cash-strapped Oldham on brink". BBC Sport. 17 March 2005.
  6. ^ "Ford pushes Oldham's claims". BBC Sport. 23 May 2001.
  7. ^ "Knight rescues Oldham". BBC Sport. 31 December 2001.
  8. ^ "Molloy takes charge of Oldham". BBC Sport. 3 July 2002.
  9. ^ "Molloy signs new deal". BBC Sport. 10 October 2002.
  10. ^ "When hoit seats became hotter". Oldham Advertiser. M.E.N. Media. 27 December 2006.
  11. ^ "1602_n12_one". Archived from the original on 19 November 2001.
  12. ^ "Tony Benson named as new coach". 21 October 2008. Archived from the original on 2 October 2011.
  13. ^ "Roughyeds set to sign up new home". Oldham Advertiser. 26 March 2010.
  14. ^ "Roughyeds set to return home". Oldham R.L.F.C. Archived from the original on 13 January 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  15. ^ "Oldham triumph in Betfred League 1 Play-off Final". www.rugby-league.com.
  16. ^ "McDermott hails the Roughyeds faithful". www.roughyeds.co.uk. 8 September 2021.
  17. ^ "Joe Hartley signs for 2024". Rochdale Hornets. 19 September 2023. Retrieved 5 November 2023.
  18. ^ "Memories are made of this..." Oldham R.L.F.C. 4 January 2018. Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  19. ^ "Law Cup comes home as Naylor's boys make promising start". Oldham R.L.F.C. 11 January 2018. Retrieved 20 January 2018.

External links edit