OLDER Oldham RLFC supporters will be shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden passing of the former Roughyeds’ loose-forward Ray Clark. He was taken ill at his home in Moorside in the early hours of Monday morning (January 9) and died a few hours later in hospital. He was 72.
A larger-than-life character and well known as an active member of various strands of the local rugby league community, he was an active and passionate worker for the Oldham Past Players’ Association and was closely associated with the Oldham Amateur League as well as with various member clubs, in particular Saddleworth Rangers and Oldham St Anne’s.
He signed for Oldham from Warrington during season 1968-69 in an exchange deal that took the Watersheddings loose forward and vice-captain Arthur Hughes to Wilderspool..
He played 95 matches in the Oldham first team, scoring 19 tries, and in 1971 he was selected at loose forward for Lancashire against Yorkshire in a County Championship game at Leigh. Lancashire lost 42-22, Ray scoring one of Lancashire’s four tries. Oldham’s second row forward Bob Irving played for Yorkshire.
Ray’s team mates in his four years at Watersheddings included Martin Murphy, Phil Larder, Mike Elliott, Wilf Briggs, Tommy Canning, Bob Irving, Ken Wilson, Jim Crellin, Kevin Taylor and Joe Collins..
In June, 1972 he was transferred to Huddersfield for a £3,750 fee and when his playing days were over he coached at Swinton, Rochdale Hornets, Leigh and Mansfield Marksman as well as at several local amateur clubs. Arguably, his highest honour was being selected as a member of the coaching team on the BARLA under-19s tour of New Zealand in 1983, which included an up-and-coming Mike Ford.
His wife Thelma is equally well-known in local rugby league circles, having shared his passion for the game for more than 50 years..