RUGBY LEAGUE’S QUALITY STREET GANG 13 – TERRY OGDEN PT 4

Part 4 He Remembers Players In The ‘Team Of Stars’

With so many big stars in the team, in the later stages of his time at Salford, Terry, understandably, finds difficulty in singling out individuals because each of them had so much to offer in their specific roles.

“Mike Coulman and Colin Dixon absolutely shone in the engine room of the pack.  Their pace was exceptional for guys of their size, which made them so difficult to stop once they had got into their stride.  I was very fond of Colin especially, as he was a really great guy.  He had a reputation of being extremely strong of physique, and you usually came off worse if you came up against him.  His presence on the field was always a considerable attribute to the team, as indeed was the case with Mike.

“With Mike it was the sheer power he possessed.  He had a low centre of gravity, which made him very difficult to knock off balance.  His legs and thighs were massive; he once split the seams of a pair of trousers he was trying on in a gentleman’s outfitter where a few of us were trying on new suits.

“Out wide, we had an abundance of pace, with Bill Burgess and then shortly after I had left, Maurice Richards.  I had, though, been impressed by Maurice when I saw him run in four tries for Wales in a rugby union international against England, at Cardiff Arms Park, and even though we never actually played together, we have since become really good friends and very much enjoy meeting up at the occasional players’ reunions to which the club invites us.

“Even at halfback, David Watkins’s speed was noteworthy, but that was also supplemented by his extremely tricky footwork, which would mesmerise defenders as they tried to bring his progress to a halt. 

“The night he made his debut against Oldham, I was on crutches, having damaged ligaments in my ankle, so was not playing.  He later told me that I had been the first person he had met on coming to Salford, and seeing me on crutches had made him wonder what on earth he had come to.

“Chris Hesketh had been little more than a fringe player when he had been at Wigan.  That was possibly because he could be a difficult player to follow, as on occasions he would run away from his support rather than keeping with it, but, from the moment he came to Salford, he seemed to progress beyond all expectations.  The environment just seemed to suit him, and with the backs amongst whom he was playing, we were able to have sufficient players backing him up to ensure there was someone nearby, whichever route he decided to take towards the line.”

In the later years of his career, Terry would be found packing down on the blindside of the scrum, whilst his fellow, openside prop, was former Oldham international, Charlie Bott.

“Charlie and I complemented each other ideally.  My strength was my skill with the ball, but my weakness was my tackling, whereas tackling was Charlie’s greatest strength. 

“As an international he had been on tour of Australia with Great Britain, in 1966, and later emigrated there when his playing career was coming towards its end.  Coincidentally, just as I was involved in the development of the social club in the sixties, I understand that Charlie, for the few months prior to his move down under, was equally involved in the construction of the then new North Stand.”

Terry’s move up front was possibly attributable to the acquisition of another former Oldham forward, Stuart Whitehead, who held the second-row position for a couple of years before moving to centre, on the arrivals of Coulman and Dixon.

“The fact that Stuart was part of that attacking line up of such speedy backs as Watkins, Hesketh, Burgess and Richards, showed the considerable pace he had as a second rower, when he first came, and he continued to hold his position in the centre until he was replaced by David Watkins’s move there from stand-off, in 1971.

One prop who actually outlasted Terry’s length of time with the club, was fans’ favourite, Jimmy Hardacre.

“Jimmy was at the club when I first arrived here, and he was still playing in the ‘A’ team when I left – in fact by then he had become captain of them, which was quite an honour when you remember just how really good that ‘A’ team was.  Coach, Ernie Critchley, thought the world of Jimmy with his hundred and ten percent endeavour in every match; he was such a wholehearted player.

“One of the best hookers we had in my time at Salford for getting the ball from the scrum was Colin Bowden, who came to us around the same time as David Evans, but who remained for only a very brief spell.

“Paul Murphy, our left winger, was the first of the really fast wingers we were to have, having come to Salford from Preston Grasshoppers.  He also turned out to be a good goalkicker, which was only discovered by chance.  Towards the end of his playing career, he was involved in working in the social club, which led, in turn, to his marrying Jill Snape, one of Brian Snape’s daughters.”

TRIBUTE TO DAVID WATKINS MBE

Everyone at Salford Red Devils is so greatly saddened at the news of the passing of one of its greatest icons in the history of the club, David Watkins MBE, aged 81.  Frequently as superlatives are often attributed, David fully warranted every single one ever used about him, rising to become a dual international in both rugby league and rugby union.

Heralding from South Wales, he quickly developed, to play 202 top-flight union matches with Newport, going on to gain his first representative honours with Wales, for whom he played on twenty-one occasions, together with a further six for the British Lions, all in his recognised position of fly-half.

His move to join Salford in 1967 absolutely transformed what, at the time, was an up-and-coming team into one of the top sides in the league, certainly in the entertainment stakes, if not in the winning of trophies.  Such was the esteem in which he was held throughout the country that, upon his signing, the attendance of 3,500 at The Willows, for the previous week’s game v Castleford, rose to an incredible 10,500 for his home debut against Oldham, the following Friday, as sports fans travelled from all around the north-west, to witness it, and he did not disappoint, turning in a try-scoring performance after only two training sessions with the team.

Within eighteen months of joining Salford, he was leading the team out at Wembley, as captain, in the 1969 Challenge Cup Final v Castleford, having defeated Batley, Workington Town, Widnes, and Warrington, along the way.  Although the trophy was eventually lifted by their Yorkshire opponents, Salford’s very presence on that great stage was evidence of the significant development, of which David had been a catalyst, within the team, in the interim.

Successes in other finals, such as the Lancashire Cup Final over Swinton in 1972 and the BBC2 Floodlit Trophy Final replay over Warrington, in 1975, eventually came as some tangible reward.  Sandwiched in between those two was the winning of the club’s first major post-war trophy, the First Division Championship for the 1973/4 season, under his captaincy, which they then repeated two seasons later in 1975/6, after he had relinquished the captaincy to Chris Hesketh, but with his then becoming the league’s leading points scorer for that season.

Such was his talent on a rugby field that it superseded anything required for any one position so that over his ten-year tenure, in 1971 he moved from his initial stand-off half berth to centre, and then in 1974 to fullback.  It was in the centre, however, where he made his greatest contribution, revelling in the greater spaces that the position afforded him, and he repaid the club by notching a total of 30 tries in his very first season, ‘71/2, in that position.

It was in a match against Barrow, in December 1972, that he came on at centre from the substitute’s bench, ten minutes from time, to score the fastest hat-trick of tries – within 5 minutes – in any game, to that time.  His first international representation came against England in November 1968 at The Willows, and he went on to be selected for international duty with Great Britain on 6 occasions, and Wales 16 times, both of whom he later coached.

Individual records needed to be rewritten for him, as one after another was broken.  In the 1972/3, he kicked a world record of 221 goals in a single season and during the period from 19th August 1972 to 25th April 1974, he established the longest running record of scoring in every one of 92 consecutive club matches with 41 tries and 403 goals bringing him 929 points.

In 1979, after making his final appearance for Salford, in an away match at Rochdale Hornets on 1st April, he transferred to Swinton, where he spent a further season, before retiring having amassed a total of 2907 points..  In 1986 he was awarded the MBE for services to rugby league, and more recently, in December 2022, he was inducted into the Rugby League Hall of Fame.

Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family and friends at this really sad time.

RUGBY LEAGUE’S QUALITY STREET GANG (7) – BILL SHEFFIELD PT 4

                                            Part 4 – HIS POST SALFORD CAREER

Bill may have decided that the dispiriting events of the Christmas ‘A’ team match at Warrington was to have been his last game, but there were those who tried to talk him around to playing again.  First of these were Leigh, who invited him down to training, shortly after he had left Salford, and, initially, he was quite open to accepting their invitation.

“I said I would go down the following Wednesday, which was my one clear night, only to be told that they didn’t train on Wednesdays, so that put paid to it all.

“Then a few years later Frankie Barrow, former St Helens fullback, was involved in setting up a new amateur club, Thatto Heath, and invited me to join the committee, which I did.  We started off at Thatto Labour Club, who were sponsoring us.

“It wasn’t long before I was pulling my boots on once more and turning out for them.  Even when I was forty-two, I was still playing but the aches and pains were taking their toll by this time, so I turned all my attention to my work on the committee.  I continued with that for a few seasons, until Frank left to coach first Swinton, and then Oldham, and a new committee came in which took the club in a different direction, which led me to leave.

“Even then it wasn’t the end of things because Frank came back with plans to set up yet another club, Portico Vine, and I, and former Warrington second row forward, Brian Gregory, were appointed joint coaches, which role we took up once we had each gained our coaching qualification.

“This gave a new impetus to my involvement, and I was turning out quite regularly in the team right throughout my fifties, until, at the age of sixty-two I finished completely.

“By this time, my son, Christopher, had joined the club playing in the centre, and I then had the greatest pleasure of playing alongside him in the team, which was a really nice way to finish my rugby career.

“Christopher became a detective in the Cheshire Police and went on to play for Great Britain Police Rugby League with whom he travelled to many countries, to play for them.

“On a final note my grandson is following our love of Rugby League and has just gained a scholarship with St Helens Rugby League Club.  Who knows maybe one day he could be playing at Salford.”

Part 1 – HIS EARLY CAREER

Part 2 – MEMORIES OF HIS TIME WITH SALFORD

Part 3 – HE REMEMBERS HIS SALFORD TEAMMATES

Sign up to the official newsletter