Oldham RLFC

The Roughyeds


‘Crazy Rugby Lady’

THE purpose of this new series, in which ROGER HALSTEAD will be talking to players, fans and staff members, is to provide supporters with an insight into the people whose lives have been touched by Oldham RLFC.

Today he chats to Anne Kearns, the lady from Bury who has been acting as office manager and running the club on a day-to-day basis during chairman Chris Hamilton’s absence on sick leave.

Her cup in the office kitchen has three words written on it that sum her up perfectly . . . ‘Crazy Rugby Lady‘.

One of her sisters spotted it on a market and couldn’t resist buying it for the sibling who has indeed become ‘crazy’ about rugby league in general and Oldham RLFC in particular during the last three years.

Her story is a remarkable one. Before then, and though born in Salford, she had never been to a rugby game in her life.

How and why she first ended up at Whitebank, as it was then, in the promotion year of 2015 is a story in itself and one which we might look at some time in the future.

For now, we can report that from the first time she walked across the car park and into the club she was hooked on the atmosphere, the camaraderie and a sense of belonging which she had never experienced anywhere before.

She couldn’t have imagined then, a complete novice about the game and a newcomer to the club , that within two and a half years she would be working in the office alone, answering calls, making decisions, dealing with the demands of the RFL and generally making sure SS Roughyeds remained on a straight course in calm waters while the captain was away from the rudder.

So where had she come from, this ‘Crazy Rugby Lady’ from Bury, with a police-sergeant son in Leicester and, forever by her side, a small, friendly pooch called Finbar, who licks and loves everybody in sight except the postman.

Beware of the dog” reads the message on the office door — perhaps an example of a sense of humour and fun that fortified her during a working lifetime in nursing.

She was trained the old way — on the wards — when Matron ruled with an iron rod but commanded the sort of respect that, in so many areas of life these days, seems to have disappeared.

All these years later Anne will watch “Call the Midwife” on TV and quickly go into nostalgic, reflective mood as she recalls the early days when she would cycle around parts of Manchester “on the district“, as a nurse would say.

She wasn’t a midwife, but she was fully trained as a general nurse and a children’s nurse and she rose to become Director of Nursing Services for Bury Primary Care Trust, as it was then known.

But it was the early days, spent cycling around the streets of Ancoats and Beswick on an old, clapped-out bike in her role as district nurse that she remembers most.

“I could write a book,” she said. “I was young and I didn’t drive so they gave me this heavy old bike that reminded me of a butcher’s bike so that I could do the rounds visiting patients in their own homes. That in itself was an experience I’ll never forget.

“The kids in the streets wanted to ‘mind the bike’ but it cost me every time I went into a house.”

She trained as a general nurse at North Manchester General, then known as Crumpsall, and as a children’s nurse at the no-longer Booth Hall Children’s Hospital.

“Back then, each hospital had a Matron and they were fantastic people. They ruled us with a rod of iron, but they were forthright, fair and had everyone’s respect.

“I often thought if I could become half the woman Matron was I would be satisfied. Even now, so long afterwards, I’m convinced the best thing the NHS could do would be to restore the role of Matron in every hospital.”

Born in Salford in a house on the site of the old Broughton Baths — “We lived at the six-foot end” — she and the family, two sisters, moved first to Prestwich and then on to Bury where she still lives with Finbar, her best-pal Bichonfrise.

One sister lives in Middleton; the other in Kent.

“Neither can understand my passion for rugby league,” said Anne.

“In company here I’ve never once been made to feel like a single person. There’s something very inclusive about rugby league that I’ve never experienced anywhere before. It’s unique for that, and its brilliant.”

Given that Chris is now gradually returning to the rudder, she doesn’t know what the future holds in terms of a continuing managerial role but she is certain of one thing — she will be an Oldham supporter until her dying day.

“I’m sure we’ll sit down soon to map out where we go from here, but I just want to do whatever is best for the club. That’s all I’ve ever wanted really,”

said the Crazy Rugby Lady, who found happiness and friendship in helping to run a rugby league club.

Matron would have been proud of her.


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Club Cash

AS you all know from your own experiences these are tough times for everybody, but we believe you will agree that OLDHAM RLFC is taking massive inspiration from the fabulous NHS and other key workers in tackling Covid head-on, while looking forward positively to the 2021 season and better times ahead thanks to the outstanding work now being done to get people vaccinated as quickly as possible.

Nevertheless, we have to face facts and be realistic enough to accept that the club urgently needs every pound that is currently coming in from whatever source. One of those sources is our Club Cash lottery and we would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who support us on this. A lot of you who used to pay our collectors on the doorstep have responded to our suggestions on how to pay by different methods and we are extremely grateful for that. Thanks again. You will never know how much difference your contributions make.

Alas, our income from the lottery has dropped by more than 50 per cent over the course of the pandemic and that would be a huge blow financially at any time let alone a time of unprecedented hardship because of the pandemic. It really is a situation we seriously need to address.

With that in mind the prize fund for the duration of the latest national lockdown will be temporarily reduced from February 10.

You will still be able to win a £1,000 first prize, plus £100, £50, £25 and ten £10 prizes every week, while continuing to provide vital support for the club and it will only cost you £1 a week. You can’t get a decent coffee for that, but the difference it makes to the club when multiplied a few times over and then multiplied again by 52 – the number of weeks in the financial year – is of major significance.

If you can help us at all — for £1 a week — it would be hugely appreciated by everyone with Oldham RL Club at heart. The prize structure still represents good value for money for an outlay of £1.

To those who are already members and help us accordingly, we very much hope to retain your support at this extremely difficult time.

Should you wish to play but don’t, due to the pausing of cash collection rounds, we have other options available, which you can discuss with our lottery administrator, John McAndrew on 07980129541 or from the club on 07904 898177.

Alternatively, you can send an email to: mcandrewj@aol.com or to: enquiries@roughyeds.co.uk

The prize fund will be increased back to previous levels as soon as latest lockdowns are released. Please watch our website and social media platforms for further announcements.

Finally, if you want more information about the lottery or you wish to discuss your membership please contact one of the numbers given above.

A huge thank-you to you all.

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