Background To The Trust
The Oldham rugby league community was very badly hit both by the loss of its historic home at Watersheddings some 20 years ago, albeit the ground might have been in an awful state of repair, and by the demise of the historic professional club in the town after two years in Super League. Even though Chris Hamilton and his then group of co-directors managed to resurrect a club in the town, it has, for a variety of reasons, been nomadic ever since. In the spring of 2005 a small group of committed but dissatisfied fans got together, and the result was a public meeting, held at the Pennine Way on July 7 that year.
Over 300 people attended the meeting, and the outcome was the formation of a Supporters’ Trust. One of the speakers that night was Terry Flanagan, the very well-known former Oldham club captain and GB player, and it was his passionate and inspirational speech that resulted in the Trust being given the name ‘Rugby Oldham : A Rugby League Community Trust’.
Like all such trusts, Rugby Oldham had several aims, but the principal focus was – and indeed still is – to attempt to generate a dedicated rugby league ground in the town, on which the professional club would play, but which would also act as a venue for high-status matches played by Oldham’s amateur and youth teams. The vision was that the Trust would represent all supporters of the game in the town, and would serve to bring together all with the best interests of rugby league in Oldham at heart.
Aims and Objectives
Rugby Oldham formally began life in August 2005 as an Industrial and Provident Society, later becoming a Community Benefit Society. It is registered with the Financial Services Authority [Reg. No. 29986R]. It is a non-profit organisation, in essence operating as a one-member one-vote co-operative. In addition, it operates under the umbrella of Supporters Direct, which is a well-known and well-established national organisation.
The formal aims and objectives are contained in the Trust’s constitution, but in essence remain as they were stated when the Trust was founded. Under the overall ‘mission statement’ : ‘To improve the future of Rugby League in Oldham and District’, the objectives were put under 4 headings:
a) To develop a Pro-Am rugby league stadium in Oldham
b) To ensure that the stadium remains secure in trust for future generations
c) To ensure that the stadium encompasses leisure facilities available for use by the wider community
d) To help strengthen the bonds between the RL community at all levels by :
– Ensuring that the stadium is used as a community-based facility on an unprecedented scale
– Creating a central base for RL in Oldham to be used by amateur clubs, schools, etc
– Supporting and promoting community development work.
Inevitably, as time goes by, circumstances change, and to some degree this has been the case for Rugby Oldham’s objectives and activities. Bringing together and assisting the variety of RL-playing bodies in the town has consistently been a central activity ever since 2005, and attempting to represent supporters in the management and/or ownership of the professional club has also taken a part in what it has tried to achieve from time to time, even though so far with little tangible success. The central long-term ground-related aim, though, remains at the core of Rugby Oldham.
In 2007, the professional club announced that it intended to build a ground itself, and inevitably this influenced the immediate focus of Rugby Oldham. When in 2011 ORLFC secured a tenancy in the Whitebank stadium at Limeside, things changed again, and in fact the Trust undertook to assist in developing the stadium, though it must be said that the offer was never seriously taken up. No doubt there will be further evolution in the future too ; the Trust’s periodic Newsletters to members, available elsewhere on the website, give regular updates.
The Trust is a democratic organisation, and its members have the opportunity to elect representatives to its board each year. The first board consisted of eight elected members – Michael Ackroyd [Treasurer], Iain Ashworth, Geoff Cooke, Ian Etchells [Vice-Chair], Linda Mills, Iain Taylor [Chair], Brian Walker and Simon Winnard – together with Ian Wilson [Secretary] and co-opted members from the Oldham Amateur League [Phil Bradbury], the Oldham Service Area [Don Yates], ORLFC [Roger Halstead] and the Oldham RL Heritage Trust [Michael Turner].
Elected members serve for a two-year term of office.
The current Board comprises:-
Mike Kivlin (Chair)
Tim Hughes (Vice-Chair)
Ian Wilson (Secretary)
Phil Bradbury (representing the Oldham Amateur League)
Michael Turner (representing the Heritage Trust)
Ray Hicks (representing the Past Players Association)
Dave Naylor (representing Oldham RLFC 1997 Ltd.)
The next elections to the board will take place in the Spring of 2018 ; details will be posted here in due course.