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Like father like son (or even grandson)!

NOT many will know this, but our latest new signing Josh Johnson is the grandson of the late Kenny Payne, well known locally at one time not only as a successful business man in the Lees area but as a rugby league prop for Oldham, Blackpool Borough and Rochdale Hornets.

There was a time when several players from Oldham played for the long-gone Borough club and Ken Payne, better known as ‘Kenny’, was among them. He also played at Rochdale and for Oldham at Watersheddings where he made 15 senior appearances across two seasons, facing front-row competition from the likes of the legendary Ken Wilson, Geoff Fletcher and Danny Gardiner, and ended his playing career in 1970, writes ROGER HALSTEAD.

In 1993 he bought and ran the former Birch Hall hotel in Lees before retiring with his wife to North Wales, as have many Oldham folk across the years, in 1999. They returned to Saddleworth some years later to be nearer the family.

Grandson Josh, who has signed until the end of next season and is expected to be in contention for Sunday’s big game against Workington Town (3pm kick-off) at the Vestacare Stadium, will be proud to follow in his grandad’s footsteps . . . and if Ken could see him there would be no prouder man than he.

If Josh, now 28 and hugely experienced, plays on Sunday it will be his debut as a fully-fledged Roughyed, but he did, in fact, play a little bit for us in 2015 when he was 20 and when he scored two tries in five Oldham appearances on dual-reg from Huddersfield Giants.

He lives in Austerlands and played first for Saddleworth Rangers as a boy before moving to Waterhead ARLFC where he spent most of his amateur career before signing for Huddersfield.

We have a similar scenario when young Harvey Wilson, the late Ken ‘Tug’ Wilson’s grandson, plays for us on dual registration from Wigan Warriors, and we will have another on Sunday when Richard Russell will be at the Workington game where he will receive his Oldham RLFC Heritage certificate while supported by his son Ollie, the hugely talented and well-known Huddersfield Giants half-back.

Richard is himself the eldest son of the late Jimmy Russell, who played as a centre for Huddersfield back in Fartown days and at the same time as renowned hooker Tony Finan, another Oldhamer who is extremely interested in the development of the sport in Oldham and is a very loyal active member of the Oldham Players’ Association.

Our former prop, Ray Hicks, mine host at The Three Crowns, that well-known rugby hostelry for many, many years; a former Saddleworth Rangers coach and now a leading figure in the Oldham RLFC Players’ Association, will be at the game , just as he was at Dewsbury last Friday where he was accompanied by his eldest son Robert, top referee, qualified lawyer, former head boy at Hulme Grammar School and holder of a leading position at the RFL.

Ian Wilson, secretary of our Supporters Trust, Rugby Oldham, is the father of Andy Wilson, head of communications at the RFL and former media employee of the England and Wales Cricket Board, but perhaps our biggest claim to fame on the father-and-son theme is that of our managing director Mike Ford and his three sons, all of whom are heavily involved in Rugby Union with the middle boy, George, holder of 82 England caps as a fly half after being reared locally in rugby league.

In Oldham there are no doubt many more examples of this, but here are just a few to get you thinking of genes, blood-stock and medical matters like that. Or is it just a case of ‘doing what Dad does’ and going along with the family line ?

Going back to Sunday’s game, Iain MacCorquodale has said he will be there, no doubt with a foot in both camps as an Oldhamer born and bred and a former assistant coach at Watersheddings and also as a Workington Town legend, who spent years at Derwent Park as a goalkicking winger of some repute, whose 40-year record as that club’s top points scorer ever was broken quite recently by Carl Forber.

Oldham are now resigned to winning promotion via the play-offs but with Town only three points behind them with a game in hand, the home side can’t afford to slip up.

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