RUGBY LEAGUE’S QUALITY STREET GANG 13 – TERRY OGDEN PT 1

Former Salford Prop Forward, Terry Ogden, Looks Back At His Time As A Player At The Willows During The Seventies

CONTENTS

Pt 1  His Early Rugby Career

Pt 2 He Recounts The Story Of Salford’s Rebirth

Pt 3 He Relates The History Surrounding The Willows Social Club

Pt 4 He Remembers Players From The ‘Team Of Stars’

Pt 5  His Post Rugby League Life                                               

Part 1 His Early Rugby Career

Even had his parents known before he was born, that former Salford prop forward, Terry Ogden, was going to become a professional rugby league player, they could not have chosen a more fitting place to have lived and brought him up than where they happened to be living, at the time, as he explains:

“I was born in Adlington Street, Oldham, under the shadow of what was then the West Stand of Oldham Rugby League Club’s former ground, The Watersheddings.  My mate’s father held a role in the backroom staff, and he provided us with the first rugby ball I ever played with, which turned out to be just the casing of one stuffed with newspapers, with no bladder to it.

“It did the job though because by the age of sixteen I was having trials with Oldham.  I’d started off playing rugby union as a result of it being taught at my secondary school, and I even went on to play it at club level before changing to league with Greenacres ARLFC, where some of my friends were playing.

“I played second row or loose forward in what was a really good side, and it was from there that I ended up being picked up, by Oldham, for trials in their ‘A’ team.  You were always assured that you would be in the team, whenever they happened to be playing at places like Workington or Whitehaven, or any other equally far-flung place. 

“There were no motorways then, of course, so you had to wend your way through all the narrow winding lanes, which ensured that travel sickness took the edge off everybody’s performance before we even got there.  The first team, by comparison, went on the train, and, on occasions, even stayed overnight in Keswick.

“I signed for them on my seventeenth birthday, in 1957, and, with them having such a great team in those days with the likes of Frank Pitchford, Derek Turner, and Frank Stirrup, it took me some time to break into the first team.  My idol was right centre, Alan Davies, who later came to play with us at Salford while I was there, as also did Charlie Winslade, who became a good friend of mine as we used to travel to away games together.

“In 1961, Huddersfield came in to try to sign me, but we couldn’t agree terms, which was rather unfortunate because they then went on to become Challenge Cup runners-up to Wakefield, at Wembley, and then beat them the following week, in the Championship Play-offs Final.  To cap that, when I did eventually join them the following season, we were knocked out of the Cup in the first round, at home, against Whitehaven of all people.  I think we had been a little over-confident.

“The start of 1963 was the winter of the Big Freeze, which decimated fixtures for up to three months, with temperatures not climbing above zero for almost the whole time.  We did manage to get an odd match in here and there, but it seemed an extremely long time before things got back to normal.

“During my time at Fartown, I became very great friends with Aiden Breen, whom I first met at one of our stay-overs in Keswick.  He later became PA to Brian Snape, after Brian had become Chairman of Salford in 1964, and consequently signed for them.  He then encouraged me to go down to watch a match at the Willows, which I did for a game against Keighley.

“I felt that there was a really good team spirit among the players and they had a few of note, such as prop Albert Halsall, stand-off Jackie Brennan, scrum-half Terry Dunne, and loose forward Arthur Hughes who actually played against us in the Challenge Cup semi-final for Warrington, from where we went on to play at Wembley.

“Money was very tight at Salford at the time, so in order for a deal to be agreed with Huddersfield, a player-exchange had to be arranged with my moving to Salford, and a Salford winger moving across to Fartown.”

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: SALFORD V WAKEFIELD

Although there may have been recent games in which the Salford Red Devils have put in better performances than the one last Friday evening against Wakefield Trinity, the outcome in those was far less satisfactory than that of this one.  We would however all have given a great deal, on those occasions, to have been coming away with two more league points, as we were able to do, this time.

The acquisition of these two, on Friday, to go alongside the pair achieved the previous weekend at Huddersfield, could prove vital in building future momentum, and ultimately gaining a position in the top six play-offs.

And there were certain aspects of this game, which were quite noteworthy in themselves, not least the Salford defence.  The greatest ignominy one can inflict upon a team is to keep them totally scoreless, and this, the Red Devils achieved with some distinction.

There will be some discussion within the Wakefield ranks about the number of handling errors in their approach work, which spoiled their chances, but these were predominantly in the second half, as a consequence of the pressure the Reds had exerted upon them earlier, thereby unsettling their attacking rhythm and their nerves, as the game wore on.

The opening exchanges were, in stark contrast, most intensely fought with both sides going set for set in a quite fierce arm-wrestle for the first ten minutes, with the only break in play coming with Salford’s opening try.  Indeed, this apart, it had been proving to be the visitors who were getting the upper hand, pushing the Red Devils further and further to their own line, thanks to the power of their forward drives and long raking end-of-set kicks.

If there were one moment which typified the strength and resilience of the Salford defence, however, it came in the twenty-first minute, with a four-man, gang-tackle, by Sam Stone, Kallum Watkins Andy Ackers, and King Vuniyayawa on the mountain of a man which is David Fifita, driving him back. 

Of course, four men are always going to prove too much for any one person – including David Fifita – but it is the ability to get the four men in there, all together at the same time, which is the real achievement.  It was this and many other such defensive efforts which eventually led to the lacklustre Trinity attack, later in the game.

Scores, though, were at a premium to both sides.  Indeed, there seemed to be something of good fortune about each of the Reds’ trio of tries.  In tight games, it often proves to be the mis-pass which breaks a team’s defensive line as the players get sucked out of position so leaving gaps, and that is exactly what happened with Salford’s first. 

An intended pass went to ground but then stood up neatly into Kallum Watkins’s hands enabling him to go straight through the gap in front of him, and, with support on either side of him, he chose Ryan Brierley on his inside, who went the remaining distance to the posts.

How important taking every point was proving to be led to Marc Sneyd improving upon his three successful conversions to tries the last of which was from the touchline, with a penalty goal, on 28 mins.

Ackers probably felt most thankful to the Wakefield player who palmed the ball back to him, unmarked, from a short goal-line drop-out, for his 49th minute try.  The real credit for that, though, should go to the outstanding Vuniyayawa for his ferocious crash-tackle on a Wakefield ball-carrier, to force the drop-out, and even prior to that to the Salford kick-chasers for tying the Trinity onto their own line, for the start of their set.

The culminating, final, ninety metre, try of the match came as a result of Ken Sio’s getting in the way of a Wakefield pass and setting off on the journey to the other try-line, before selecting Brierley, yet again, to go over, this time, in the corner, with less than three minutes left.

A twenty-point victory is, in itself, impressive, but what was somewhat frustrating was the number of other opportunities which could have counted, but on this occasion evaded them, not least the wet ball squeezing out of Brodie Croft’s grasp as he sought to take control of it, over the try line, from a short kick.  On another night, many of these chances would probably have combined to go some way towards doubling their final tally.

TRIBUTE TO DENNIS BROWN

Salford Red Devils have been saddened to learn of the passing of their former centre, Dennis Brown, on 28th September 2022, at the age of 83.

Dennis signed for Salford in 1963 from Thames Board Mills Club, Warrington, and made his first team debut away at St Helens in March 1964, in his recognised centre berth.  Over the four years he had with us, he made a total of forty-nine appearances, of which four were as substitute, and he crossed for eight tries bringing him a total of twenty-four points, since one try was worth only three points at that time

His final appearance for the Reds was away at Huddersfield, in the last match of the season, on 25th April 1966,  and owing to a long term injury, which prevented his continuing his playing career with any further professional club, was sadly forced to retire from the game.

Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and friends at this time.

SALFORD WOMEN SPRING SURPRISES IN NINES TOURNAMENT

For those of us who remember the highly popular Sevens Tournaments of the 1970s, a version of rugby at which Salford used to excel, our over-riding memory was one of sheer speed, and rather less in terms of rugby skills, as pacey individuals simply ran amok in the acres of space at their disposal.  The modern version of nine-aside is an attempt to redress the balance, so with a total of eight players (four from each side) missing, there is now much more rugby evident, while still ample opportunity for potential match-winners to have their field day.

For Salford women’s side, with only one competitive game under their belt, the change to a completely different and novel style of play was always going to require an extremely steep learning curve to be able to cope, let alone come close to winning a match.  Even the scoring was unfamiliar, with a try between the posts, only, earning five points plus the conversions. Restarts after a score were by the scoring team dropping out to the team which had conceded.

So, probably, in light of all that, the other three fully experienced teams in Group D will all, undoubtedly, have been relishing an easy ride against the newcomers to the comp.  If that were the case, they will have had one almighty shock, when they came up against the Red Devils

OULTON

Salford v Oulton was, in fact, the opening match of the afternoon, so there was to be no opportunity to observe another fixture in order to acquaint themselves with what to expect ahead of their game, only the opening onslaught from the Yorkshire players who quickly rattled up an eight-point lead.

Desperate times require desperate measures, so, step forward, Salford fullback, Luci McKeown, who received the ball just inside the Red Devils’ half of the field, on the third tackle of the set.  Far from ensuring the completion of the set as the main priority, she happened to notice that Oulton’s fullback was out of position, so put in a lengthy kick down field chased after it, and, having won the race, she then showed the skills of a soccer player before touching down over the line and adding the conversion.

Oulton replied almost immediately with a converted try, but shortly before half time, winger, Alex Simpson was put clear down the left flank to score under the posts, which with the extra point this earned, plus McKeown’s conversion brought the score at the turnaround, to 13-14.

Oulton, it was again, who opened the scoring to the second half, taking the score to 13-21, but from that point the Red Devils took total command.  First, they set up a try for right winger, Lauren Ellison, whose try brought Salford to within four points, at 17-21, and they got in front for the first time 24-21, following an interception by Simpson, and the final score coming from Abbi Collins, 31-21

CASTLEFORD

Despite their Super League status, Castleford turned out to be wooden spoonists at the end of the afternoon, and Salford’s 26-4 victory contributed to this.  A quite remarkable pass from McKeown, whilst being tackled, to Kayleigh Bradshaw got Simpson away and under the posts, for their first seven points of the match.  Then, lo and behold, McKeown replicated her try from the previous match, with the only variation being that she caught the kick on the bounce, to score under the posts to bring the score to 14-0

Castleford’s solitary score came just before half time, when the effort from all three, nine-minute periods, compiled to catch up on the Red Devils, but the second half was one way traffic, starting with a right to left passing move along the line to Simpson, once again, who crossed in the corner. 18-4

Hooker, Taz Corcoran, then caught out the defence, with a dart to the blind side for Ellison to score in the right corner to move the score on to 22-4.  Finally, prop, Demi Jones, got in on the act, with a most incredible ball steal to gain possession, for the last try of the game.

HUDDERSFIELD

It was only fitting that the final match was between the two best, and thus far undefeated, sides in this Group.  And how did this culminating match open?  Why, with a kick down the field by McKeown, and yet again a try under the posts.  Self-converted, of course.  Huddersfield were behind for the first time all afternoon.

Sadly, that was as good as it got for Salford, in this encounter.  Huddersfield had been clearly the team of the Group throughout the afternoon, winning both their previous matches, at a canter, and when, in the heat of the occasion, the Salford players lost some of their composure and started making handling errors, the Yorkshire side took advantage of each one.

The half time score of 7-10, quickly rose to 7-20, upon the resumption, until Ellison picked up a loose ball and showed a clean pair of heels over seventy metres, hotly pursued, to the posts.  There was still sufficient time, though, for Huddersfield to underline their superiority to bring up a final score of 14-24.

So, Huddersfield will progress as Group D’s representatives in the Final stage of the competition, at the A J Bell in a few weeks’ time, and congratulations to them in so doing.  A special concluding word, however, for all the Salford players who, so magnificently, represented the club, over the course of the afternoon.

There would have been no shame in their having lost all their matches, being so new to rugby league, let alone the nine-aside variation of it, against such experienced opponents.  To have won two of them, and to have kept to within ten points of the overall winners was incredible, and they all deserve every accolade of praise they receive.

They can only learn from today’s venture, and will get even better as a result.  They fully deserve the utmost of support, and would undoubtedly welcome your attendance at some of their home games, starting, this weekend against Dewsbury, on Sunday afternoon, at the home of Salford Roosters.

SALFORD SQUAD:

Luci McKeown, Lauren Ellison, Eponine Fletcher, Alex Simpson, Louise Fellingham, Taz Corcoran, Kayleigh Bradshaw, Yasmin Parton-Sotomayor, Gabby Chaplin, Abbi Collins, Demi Jones

FINAL POSITIONS GROUP D:

  1. Huddersfield
  2. Salford
  3. Oulton
  4. Castleford

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