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John Fairbank, RIP

IT is with deep sadness that we report the death of a former Oldham forward, John Fairbank, at the tragically-young age of 55.

One of the well-known rugby league-playing Fairbank family of Elland, John joined us from Leeds as part of the deal that took Hugh Waddell to Headingley in 1988.

He won amateur international honours at Elland before joining Leeds where his father, Jack, had played before him and had won honours as a member of the Leeds team that won the Championship for the first time in 1961.

In his first season at Leeds under Maurice Bamford, John made 19 appearances before Bamford was succeeded by Mal Reilly.

At the start of the following season, he wore the Leeds shirt twice more before coming to Oldham, making his debut against Featherstone on September 11, 1988.

In less than three seasons at Watersheddings, John made a total of 52 appearances (31 starts and 21 off the bench) and scored 11 tries.

His brother Mark also signed for Roughyeds, but only had a brief stay.

Talking of one of John’s 11 tries for the club, Mike Turner of the Oldham RL Heritage Trust said:

“John was a tough-as-teak prop forward with a good turn of pace for a big man .

“I remember him scoring a winning and dramatic, last-minute try at Doncaster in which he took several defenders over the line with him.”

The condolences of all at Oldham RLFC are with both John’s immediate family and with the wider Fairbank family which, over the years, has had a massive impact on our sport at both amateur and professional levels.

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