The life of former Oldham, Rochdale Hornets and Swinton Lions player Steve Gartland, who died last week aged 45, will be celebrated at Wembley tomorrow during the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Final between Warrington Wolves and Hull FC.
In the sixth minute of the game, a crowd expected to top 80,000 will stand and do an impromptu minute’s applause in memory of Steve, who also had close connections with the Mayfield amateur club in Rochdale.
The significance of the sixth minute lies in the fact that, as a stand-off half, Steve usually wore the No 6 on his shirt in his playing days.
A member of a well-known rugby league family, Steve was the younger son of Brian Gartland, a member of the backroom team at Watersheddings for many years and the man largely credited with the signing of young players like Terry Flanagan, Paddy Kirwan, Ray Ashton, Mick Worrall, Des Foy and Andy Goodway.
A few years later Steve himself played for Oldham before moving on to Rochdale, Swinton and then back to Rochdale.
His elder brother Shaun was well known in amateur rugby league circles in Oldham and Rochdale and he also had a spell as coach of the ‘new’ Oldham club’s reserve team.
There will be a minute’s silence in memory of Steve at the Oldham versus Sheffield Eagles game at Bower Fold, Stalybridge on Monday (3pm kick-off).