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Watersheddings was the site of a former rugby league stadium in the Watersheddings area of Oldham, in Greater Manchester, England. Historically it was in Lancashire, lying on the A672 (Ripponden Road) approximately 2 miles north east of Oldham town centre.

Watersheddings
Full nameWatersheddings
LocationOldham, England
Capacity9,000
Record attendance28,000
Construction
Built1889
Opened1889
Closed1997
Tenants
Oldham Rugby League Club (1889-1997)

Watersheddings was reportedly the highest professional RL ground in the UK at 770 ft above sea level, which would also list it as the highest ground of any professional sport in the UK.[1]

Contents

OriginsEdit

The stadium known as Watersheddings, named after the area of Oldham that it was located in, was built in 1889. It was constructed on the east side of a reservoir, Ruby Mill and Longfield Mill and north of Longfield Lane. At the same time the Oldham Cricket Ground was built adjacent to the stadium on its east side and a lawn tennis ground was constructed on its north side.[2]

HistoryEdit

Oldham Football Club (more commonly known as Oldham Rugby League Football Club) moved from their Clarksfield Ground and played their first match at the new Watersheddings stadium on 28 September 1889 against Swinton.[1]

In 1904 Watershedding was selected to host the very first Rugby league International between England and Other Nationalities on New Year's Day 1904 but the game was cancelled due to a frozen pitch,the game was moved to April and Central Park, Wigan and in 1912, the stadium achieved its highest ever attendance of 28,000 against Huddersfield.[1] In the 1914/15 season Watershedding was selected to host the Challenge Cup final

year Teams Score Team Venue Attendance
1914–15   Huddersfield 37–3   St. Helens Watersheddings, Oldham 8,000

In 1933 the cricket ground was demolished making way for the Oldham Greyhound Stadium; the south stand and kennels were erected next to the south-east corner of the Watersheddings ground.[3] The Watersheddings floodlights were used for the first time on Wednesday 20 October 1965, when a crowd of 6,333 attended an under-24 international between Great Britain and France.[1]

ClosureEdit

The club left Watersheddings in 1997 and, now called Oldham R.L.F.C., moved to Oldham Athletic AFC's Boundary Park stadium before they moved to Whitebank Stadium in 2010.[4] The Watersheddings site was redeveloped into housing now called Watersheddings Way and Hutchins Lane.

County gamesEdit

Watersheddings also hosted numerous county vs county games with Lancashire hosting various other county sides including the Rugby League War of the Roses matches against Yorkshire. The results were as follows:

Game Date Result Attendance
1 7 December 1895   Yorkshire def.   Lancashire 8–0 9,059
2 21 November 1896   Lancashire def.   Yorkshire 7–3 7,000
3 16 October 1897   Lancashire def.   Cheshire 11–10 7,000
4 21 October 1899   Lancashire def.   Cumberland 17–7 8,500
5 12 November 1904   Yorkshire def.   Lancashire 14–5 8,500

Australia and New ZealandEdit

The stadium, in its time, played host to many Australian and New Zealand national teams who played tour games against Oldham and the Lancashire county side, the first being against the 1907 touring New Zealand team, the last being against Australia in 1986.

Game Date Result Attendance Notes
1 23 November 1907   Oldham def.   New Zealand 8–7 15,000 1907–08 All Golds tour
2 23 November 1907   Lancashire def.   New Zealand 20–4
3 26 December 1908   Oldham def.   Australia 11–5 15,000 1908–09 Kangaroo Tour
4 11 November 1911   Oldham def.   Australasia 14–8 10,000 1911–12 Kangaroo Tour
5 26 November 1921   Australasia def.   Oldham 16–5 15,344 1921–22 Kangaroo Tour
6 16 January 1922   Oldham def.   Australasia 15–5 6,000
7 23 October 1926   Oldham def.   New Zealand 15–10 16,000 1926–27 New Zealand Kiwis tour
8 2 November 1929   Australasia def.   Oldham 18–10 19,284 1929–30 Kangaroo Tour
9 9 September 1933   Australia def.   Oldham 38–6 5,000 1933–34 Kangaroo Tour
10 6 November 1937   Australia def.   Oldham 10–6 12,265 1937–38 Kangaroo Tour
11 25 October 1947   New Zealand def.   Oldham 18–8 17,239 1947–48 New Zealand Kiwis tour
12 4 December 1948   Australia def.   Oldham 27–7 14,798 1948–49 Kangaroo Tour
13 29 September 1951   Oldham def.   New Zealand 21–18 15,174 1951–52 New Zealand Kiwis tour
14 15 September 1952   Australia drew.   Oldham 7–7 19,620 1952–53 Kangaroo Tour
15 29 October 1955   New Zealand def.   Oldham 15-13 14,700 1955–56 New Zealand Kiwis tour
16 7 November 1956   Oldham def.   Australia 21–2 8,956 1956–57 Kangaroo Tour
17 3 October 1959   Australia def.   Oldham 25–14 17,621 1959–60 Kangaroo Tour
18 4 September 1961   Oldham / Rochdale XIII def.   New Zealand 10–8 8,795 1961 New Zealand Kiwis tour
19 5 October 1963   Australia def.   Oldham 12–4 11,773 1963–64 Kangaroo Tour
20 31 August 1965   New Zealand def.   Oldham 5–2 10,333 1965 New Zealand Kiwis tour
21 11 November 1967   Australia def.   Oldham 18-8 3,329 1967–68 Kangaroo Tour
22 27 October 1971   New Zealand def.   Oldham 24–13 1,872 1971 New Zealand Kiwis tour
23 19 October 1973   Australia def.   Oldham 44–10 2,770 1973 Kangaroo Tour
24 4 November 1975   Australia def.   Oldham 20–10 3,675 1975 Australian Rugby League World Cup tour
25 4 November 1986   Australia def.   Oldham 22–16 5,678 1986 Kangaroo Tour

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d "Blue plaque unveiled to mark birthplace of rugby league in Oldham". Manchester Evening News.
  2. ^ "OS County Series Yorkshire 1894". old-maps.co.uk.
  3. ^ Barnes, Julia (1988). Daily Mirror Greyhound Fact File. Ringpress Books. p. 295. ISBN 0-948955-15-5.
  4. ^ "Records". Oldham Rugby League Football Club.