Memories are made of this...

WHEN Oldham and Rochdale Hornets go head to head for the Law Cup at the Crown Oil Arena on Sunday (3pm kick off) it will be exactly 20 years and six days since the ‘new’ Oldham club played its first-ever game on the same ground and pulled off a stunning 36-16 win in front of a crowd of 3,097.

It was New Year’s Day, 1998 — a day that will be forever etched in the annals of Oldham Rugby and a day that will always hold a special place in the memories of the large band of Roughyeds’ supporters who far out-numbered their Hornets counterparts.

In his new book ‘Roughyeds – Against All The Odds’ (selling at £12.95 with all profits going to the club), Craig Halstead recalls: “When I turned up at the ground that day, not quite knowing what to expect and if truth be known not knowing several of the players the new board had signed, it was with trepidation that we might get a good hiding but also with a heady mix of pride, relief and joy that Oldham were back.

“The team wore a traditional red and white hooped jersey. That felt good. Not only had this group of players never played together before, they had not trained together for long either. For Oldham to win would take a Herculean effort; nobody but the most parochial of fans would have backed them to win that day.

“Well, nobody wearing red and white on the pitch had read the script. Turning in a fantastic performance, full of guts and pride and with a terrific will-to-win, plus no little skill, Roughyeds rocked Hornets from the kick-off, the forwards dominating the hard slog up front and the backs looking dangerous every time the ball was moved wide.

“Backed by a vociferous following of fans , Oldham scored six tries by Joe McNicholas (2), Adrian Mead, Mike Prescott, Martin Maders and Ian Sinfield plus six goals from the immaculate goal-kicking of second-row forward Brian Quinlan.

“It was real Roy of the Rovers stuff and I recall with great pleasure the moment scrum-half Neil Flanagan received the Law Cup and his ecstatic team mates launched him on to their shoulders for the post-match photographs and celebrations.

“Oldham were back and the new club — Oldham RLFC (1997) — was up and running.”

The author goes on to tell the full story of the ‘new’ Roughyeds over the next 20 years — an excellent read, with pictures, in a tale which began at the ground then known as Spotland and which, coincidentally, starts the second 20 years of its life in the same surroundings, now named the Crown Oil Arena.

Since that first Law Cup classic in 1998, there have been 14 in total —- 11 of them at Rochdale — with honours even at seven wins apiece.

Going back in time to the early days of these traditional pre-season derby battles, Oldham have won 43, Rochdale 20 and there were draws in 1954 and 1976.

It was first staged in 1921 as the Infirmaries Cup, with all proceeds going to the Oldham and Rochdale Infirmaries but with the birth of the NHS after the War the trophy was renamed the Law Cup in commemoration of its original donor, Mr A J Law, a Rochdale MP and Littleborough mill owner.

In the rugby league boom period of the 1950s, Law Cup games attracted some fabulous crowds. The biggest post-war Law Cup attendance at Watersheddings was 11,653 in 1952 to see Oldham triumph 25-8.

The best at the Athletic Grounds was 9,200 in 1955 when Hornets won 23-17.

Hornets currently hold the trophy, following their 24-12 win at Bower Fold, Stalybridge last year and, just as in 1998, Scott Naylor’s men will go into Sunday’s game as underdogs, not only taking on the cup holders in their own backyard but going into the game as a League 1 side against a Championship team.

With Oldham fielding many new faces and several players on both sides up against former team mates it should be a cracker.

Club Cash Lottery

SINCE Covid-19 caused us to temporarily abandon door-to-door CLUB CASH lottery collections last Spring there's never been a better time to come on board and help Roughyeds to get through these hugely challenging times.

Why ? The £500-a-week rollover jackpot is back -- not only that there are now TWO £50 prizes and TWO £25 prizes in addition to the first prize of £1,000, a second prize of £100 and ten consolation prizes of £10.

But the return of the jackpot is the big lottery news. It's back this week and it's been won first time out, so next week's jackpot is again £500 but if nobody touches lucky it will go up to £1,000 the following week and increase by £500 a week, if not won, to a maximum of £10,000.

We have seriously missed the regular income from collections on the doorstep, but we cannot thank too much those supporters who have got behind the club in these unprecedented times of hardship by keeping their Club Cash memberships going or, indeed, by joining for the first time, knowing that for £1 a week they can help the club to combat Covid and prepare with confidence for the challenges of Betfred Championship rugby in 2021.

You can send a cheque to cover a set number of weeks; take out a bank standing order -- our preferred option; complete a bank transfer; or pay for several weeks up front by credit or debit card.

You can download a standing order form by clicking on the link at the end of this news release and following the instructions or you can contact our Club Cash administrator John McAndrew (tel: 07980 129541; email: or speak to the club direct on 07904 898177 or email to:

he easiest way, though, is to download a standing order form below. The latest prize updates are shown on the form as follows (all for £1): £1,000, £100, £50 (2), £25 (2), a number of £10 consolation prizes and the £500-a-week rollover jackpot.

Best of luck!

Shire Self Storage
1895 Sports
H Mullaney & Son
CDX Security
Donkeystone Brewery Co
Purpose Business and Marketing
Oldham Reporter
The Property Buying Company
Swans Travel
Premier Kia
The Oldham Times
University of Salford
Spindles Town Square
Bamford Print