ROGER Halstead, our volunteer media manager, match-day helper, Club Cash lottery collector and Roughyeds fanatic, wishes to extend his heartfelt thanks to everyone who sent him greetings on the occasion of his 80th birthday a few days ago.
There were too many to answer personally, so Roger is using the club website and the Roughyeds' social media platforms to express his gratitude and his thanks.
Son of a greengrocer and florist in Littleborough, he was born in Birch Hill Hospital , Rochdale on January 26, 1941 in the middle of the Second World War and was initially a supporter of Rochdale Hornets, his home-town club, until he “saw the light”, became interested in Roughyeds and gradually saw his allegiance switch from the Athletic Grounds to Watersheddings.
“I think I was born to be a rugby league fan, not only arriving on Australia Day, but having initials like mine, which were great for a kid brought up on Rochdale Hornets !”, he said.
By 1964 he was a full-on Roughyed and he is still as keen as he ever was nearly 60 years later.
“Seriously, my conversion to Oldham was nothing to do with ‘seeing the light’. I have the greatest respect for Hornets to this day and I wish them every success . . . so long as it doesn’t impact adversely on Oldham, obviously.
“It all changed for me when I left my journalistic roots in Rochdale; joined the Oldham Chronicle in 1961 as a young news reporter; and then, the biggest leap in terms of my rugby league interest, when I succeeded Ken Ashton as the Chronicle’s rugby league reporter in 1964.
“Since that memorable day more than 56 years ago, much of my life – all of it, if you ask my wife Val – has belonged to Oldham Rugby and I’ve loved every minute of it; more than 40 years as the Chron’s Sheddings man and then the 15 years since when I’ve been poacher-turned-gamekeeper and have done all I can in retirement to help my great friend Chris Hamilton, particularly on the media side.
“In this day and age it has taken a special kind of person like Chris to keep our club afloat for nearly 25 years, single-handedly for many of those years apart from the loyal band of volunteers, who give the club and its owner, chairman and full-time chief executive and operator their full and total support.
“I am proud and privileged to be one of those volunteers and, on behalf of our wonderful fans, to do all I can to assist the club that has meant so much to me and my three sons for all these years.
“To receive so many phone calls, cards and messages of goodwill on my milestone birthday, from nearest and dearest, friends old and new, players, former players, referees, friends in the amateur game, church friends, former colleagues in the newspaper business and others, was one of the most humbling experiences of my life.
“There were far too many to answer personally but, as I have already posted on social media, a massive thank-you to all and, as many of you said to me, thanks for the memories. We’ve shared the good times and the bad and the memories will be cherished to the day I die.
“The one big thing I have learned in this last 15 years is that the men and women who run our clubs have more to cope with than those of us who are keen fans but who are on the outside with little or no responsibility, could ever imagine.
“I salute them all, as well as the hundreds of players, referees, backroom and medical staff and supporters, without whom we would have no game and no lifelong memories. C’mon Oldham, c’mon Oldham !”