England legend lent a helping hand at Uppermill FC

UPPERMILL FC pulled off a coup by adding Manchester United and England legend Jack Rowley to their management team.

The season was 1981-82 and Rowley, who ran a newsagents in Shaw after retiring from football, attended most matches at The Woolpack, Dobcross, and was on hand to offer advice.

That is just one of many stories contained in volume two of John Gilder’s ‘Amateur Football in Oldham’.

It is a 260-page A4 offering which John describes as a ‘treasure trove of memories’ between 1981-2017 when he was the Oldham Evening Chronicle’s amateur football correspondent.

John Gilder with his book

And local clubs feature prominently in the book including the goalscoring exploits of two players.

In 1999-2000 season, there was an article on Diggle FC’s 41-year-old striker Richard Devy on scoring his 150th first-team goal in 354 appearances over a 20-year period.

And Uppermill’s Darren Higgins scored 96 goals in less than three seasons to earn a move to Northern Premier League side Wakefield and Emley.

Still on a goalscoring theme, Lees and Hey’s Paul Buckley smashed the Oldham Sunday League record in 1992-93 when he netted 11 in a 21-3 victory against Abbeylee.

Former Springhead striker Richie Bennett, who came through the junior ranks from the age of 14, was also spotlighted playing for Northwich Victoria who came close to knocking Northampton Town out of the FA Cup.

Bennett, then aged 24, declared it was still a dream to play in the Football League, something he achieved. He is currently with new-boys Sutton United, his fourth league club after Carlisle, Port Vale and a loan spell at Morecambe.

And still at Springhead, Chris Taylor became their first player to sign directly for a professional club when he joined Oldham Athletic.


There are so many stories, the four Mayall brothers who played in the same side at Diggle FC, former Oldham Athletic manager Joe Royle turning out for Old Bulls Head in the Oldham Sunday League, Oldham Town being managed by West Brom and Bolton star Len Cantello and former Oldham Athletic player Keith Hicks managing High Crompton’s Old Bulls Head.

And what about this for the name of a local team, Real Ale Madrid who were winners of Oldham Community Leisure’s women’s mini soccer league.

If you would like to buy a copy, email John at johngilder@btopenworld.com for further details.

The Independent has a copy to give away to one lucky reader.
To have a chance of winning, simply answer the following question.

Name the club where Joe Royle kicked off his illustrious playing career?
Answers to competitions@localcommunications.co.uk or by post to John Gilder Book Competition, Saddleworth Independent, Units 3 & 4, 45 High Street, Uppermill, OL3 6HS, by Friday,October 22, 2021.

Please include your name, address and phone number. The judges’ decision is final. T&Cs apply.

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