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Brian Lord RIP

DUE to an accidental breakdown in communication, we are somewhat late with this news, but it would be very remiss if we didn’t record the death of Brian Lord, an Oldham centre or wing between 1960 and 1964.

With sincere apologies to his family and friends for not picking up on the sad news at the time, we hope they understand that the condolences of everyone at Oldham RLFC are no less sincere for that. You are all in our thoughts and especially the thoughts of those of us who remember Brian as a young man in his playing days and, more recently, as an active member of the Past Players’ Association.

By coincidence, he and Johnny Rae, who left Watersheddings together to join a reformed Bradford Northern side in 1964, died within a few days of each other — Johnny in his native Cumbria and Brian in a Bury nursing home.

A local man who was also well-known in swimming circles, Brian made 88 senior appearances, scoring 40 tries after making his debut on January 30, 1960 in a 10-0 win at Widnes.

He played alongside many top-class internationals and it all started with his very first game when he played centre to Geoff Sims with Alan Davies and Ike Southward on the other side. John Noon and Frank Pitchford were at half-back. In the 61-62 season, he twice scored four tries, against Whitehaven in a 45-10 win when he played right centre and a few weeks later in a 32-16 win against Hull FC when he was on the right wing outside Keith Holden in a first-round Challenge Cup tie.

The 63-64 season was another memorable one for Brian, who was related to Chadderton-born Frank Lord, who made a name for himself as a bustling centre-forward with Rochdale AFC before moving on to various other football clubs.

On October 5, 1963 Brian lined up at centre in the Oldham team which played a powerful Australian tour side. The Kangaroos centres were Graeme Langlands and an emerging Reg Gasnier, a young unknown in world terms back then, but a player who became a massive player on the world stage and every bit as renowned across the globe as his mentor that day, the great Langlands.

Opposite them were Brian Lord and Peter Smethurst and the fact that Australia beat what was then a Second Division Oldham side only 12-4 was an indication of the club side’s determination and resolve.

The teams lined up like this:

OLDHAM: Noon; Sims, Lord, Smethurst, Simms; Nestor, Pycroft; Bott, McIntyre, Wilson, Major, Robinson, Parker AUSTRALIA: K Thornett; Irvine, Langlands, Gasnier, Diamond; Harrison, Muir; Gallagher, Walsh, Quinn, R Thornett, Ryan, Raper

Loose-forward for the Kangaroos was the legendary Johnny Raper, whose son Stuart was to play for Oldham many years later before becoming a top coach in the UK.

Early in 1964, Roughyeds won through to the Challenge Cup semi-final and, prior to the first game that ended in a 5-5 draw at Headingley, Lord was named in a 16-man squad.

In the event he lost his place to John Donovan and it was shortly after the three-match semi-final that he and Johnny Rae were transferred to Bradford.

Thanks for the memories Brian . . . rest in peace.

Brian was 85. If anyone would like to pass on condolences they can do it through the Past Players’ Association or by ringing Bob Henthorn on 07889 881721

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