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They came from The Valleys . . and changed codes

‘The Rugby Codebreakers’, a BBC Wales TV documentary that tells the inside story of the massive exodus of Welsh RU players to Rugby League, which lasted for nearly 100 years, will be shown again on Sunday, three years after it first made a big impression on both codes of rugby.

Produced by Alan Golding for Hoi Polloi Pictures, it tells the inside story of the days when even the best Union players in The Valleys were amateurs and were the subject of interest from professional clubs in the North, including Oldham.

The hard-hitting documentary will be shown on BBC 1 Wales but details on how to view in England are here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC_One_Wales

Programme details here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09w01q4

It will be on iPlayer for 30 days following transmission.

Over the years Oldham have signed scores of talented Welshmen, some of whom are featured in the film, including the great, late Alex Givvons who came north as a young man and spent the rest of his life at Watersheddings, filling every role from player to player-coach to trainer to backroom assistant and to the man in charge of the dressing room.

Norman Harris, grand-father of Oldham-born dual-international Iestyn Harris, also signed for Oldham about the same time as Alex.

Like his fellow counytryman, Norman also settled in Oldham where his son Paul married a Welsh girl, Sandra. They still live in Shaw. Paul played for Saddleworth Rangers and for Hornets ‘A’ when Norman, his dad, was player-coach at The Athletic Grounds in the twilight of his career,

Norman’s grandson never played for Oldham, but as a classy stand-off or full-back Iestyn starred for Warrington, Leeds and Bradford before switching codes and winning 30 caps for the Welsh RU side — a player who reversed the trend of hundreds of players coming from South Wales to play League in the North of England.

Bryn Goldswain, another Welshman, was the player-coach generally credited with starting the Oldham club’s rise to championship-winning success in the 1950s and a key member of that side was another Valleys boy, the great Charlie Winslade.

More recently, winger Mike Elliott played nearly 500 games for Roughyeds between 1963 and 1979, but perhaps the highest-profile Welsh lad ever to wear the Oldham jersey was Malcolm Price, a wonderful centre of Newport, Wales and British Lions fame.

He had a comparatively short time with at Watersheddings after suffering a career-threatening injury in a game at Rochdale, but he confounded the medics by returning to the game, transferring to Rochdale and, thanks to his wonderful performances for Hornets, winnimg selection for the Great Britain RL side — one of the few to play for both the Lions at RU and for GB at RL.

Those are just a few of the many Welshmen who signed for Oldham as ‘Rugby Codebreakers’; settled in the town; and spent the rest of their lives here. It wasn’t exclusive to Oldham.

In the 30s, 40s and 50s some of the biggest names in League were Welsh and most teams had men from The Valleys in their ranks.

Why did it happen ? How did it happen ? What was the reaction in Union-mad South Wales?

All is revealed in ‘The Rugby Codebreakers’.

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Club Cash

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: mcandrewj@aol.com) or speak to the club direct on 07904 898177 or email to: enquiries@roughyeds.co.uk

The 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!

Download Application Form

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