ORL Heritage Trust collection to be held at Gallery Oldham

ONE of the best and most extensive collections of club memorabilia in world rugby, either code, was officially handed over to the care of Oldham Council at a function in Gallery Oldham on Saturday.

It was attended by local dignitaries, including the Mayor of Oldham, Councillor Ginny Alexander, and her Consort husband Adrian, himself a former Oldham player, as well as local MP Debbie Abrahams, the long-serving chairman of Oldham RLFC, Chris Hamilton, members of the Former Players’ Association and fans.

Pictured above: Councillor Ginny Alexander, the Mayor of Oldham, and her Consort husband Adrian, himself a former Oldham RL player, were guests of honour at Gallery Oldham at a major function organised by Oldham RL Heritage Trust.

Among others in the line-up are Oldham RLFC chairman Chris Hamilton (second left), Martin Murphy, the club’s post-war record holder for most games played (third left)and Mike Turner of the Oldham RL Heritage Trust (tenth left in shirtsleeves).

Picture: David Murgatroyd

The magnificent collection of Oldham Rugby shirts, players’ medals and representative caps, trophies, programmes, pictures, newspaper cuttings and other assorted items of memorabilia will be saved. catalogued and periodically exhibited in a professionally organised museum environment.

Since receiving a grant from the national Lottery Fund a year ago to undertake this massive ‘Pass It On’ project, Oldham RL Heritage officials and volunteers have been systematically handing over material to the Gallery Oldham professionals.

Saturday’s launch of the new exhibition coincided with the launch of the ORL Heritage Trust’s new website which has been built and designed by lifelong fan Dave Naylor, a member of the Roughyeds’ media team.

The Mayor told the gathering of officials, former players and fans:

“It’s a privilege and an honour to be part of this historical day for the Oldham club. I was introduced to rugby by my husband (former Harlequins RU and Oldham RL forward Adrian Alexander) and now it’s in my blood as well as his.

“We’ll be present at Oldham’s games next season whenever we can.”

Lifelong Oldham fan Mike Turner, author, an authority on the club’s history and the driving force behind Oldham RL Heritage Trust, said: “It was great to see so many people at the launch.

“The history of Oldham RLFC is an essential part of the town’s history and this ‘Pass It On’ project will assure our collection of long-term preservation in a professionally maintained museum environment for the benefit of future generations.”

Among the many former players present at the launch were Martin Murphy and Mike Elliott, the club’s post-war record holders for most games played.

Full-back Murphy played in 462 games between 1966 and 1982 while Welsh winger Elliott, who hailed from the South Wales pit village of Blaina, made 446 appearances between 1962 and 1979.

Only two players featured in more games in the club’s 143-year history —- Joe Ferguson (627 between 1899 and 1923) and Jack Read (463 between 1926 and 1940).

Others with 400-plus games were Fred Ashworth (436) and Tommy Rees (417) pre-war and Harry Ogden (429) and Kevin Taylor (429), post-war.


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