Promotion would be fitting tribute to lifelong fan Jim

TRIBUTES have been paid to lifelong Oldham Roughyeds fan and brass band enthusiast Jim Hallas.

Jim passed away at Royal Oldham Hospital on Sunday, August 25, aged 89.

Until a month before his death Jim followed Roughyeds home and away and had been a fan for more than 80 years.

And only two years ago Jim returned to another of his loves, becoming a member of Dobcross Brass Monkeys.

His funeral took place at Oldham Crematorium, never to be forgotten by those who attended.

Mourners were certainly surprised when daughter Gwendolen arrived driving her 12-year-old Volvo V50 with her dad’s cardboard coffin in the back.

With a smile on her face and wearing multi-coloured shoes and a red outfit, the club colours, she said: “Anyone who knew my dad would know that this was exactly what he wanted.

“He always told me: ‘Put me in a cardboard box and drive me to the crem – and he meant it. He always meant what he said.

“I think he would be proud of me for doing it. He didn’t want anyone wearing black. He wanted people to really celebrate his life.

“He was a gentleman with a heart of gold, but what you saw was what you got. And what he said he meant!”.

Jim’s beloved Oldham was represented by fans in club colours and by club chairman Chris Hamilton and club captain Gareth Owen.

There were red roses on the coffin; an autographed rugby ball which Jim won some years ago; and a floral tribute in the shape of a rugby ball and in red and white.

Dobcross Brass Monkeys, in which Jim played trombone until a few months ago, were there to play their former member’s favourite piece, William Rimmer’s quick march Slaidburn.

Added Gwendolen: “He was that sort of man; full of life to the day he died and a man who would want the best of everything for everybody.”

Brass Monkeys musical director Phil Cumberworth said: “Jim rang me at the end of October 2017 and asked if we needed a trombone player.

“I asked him how long it had been since he last played and he said 45 years. It turned out he was 87 when he rang.

“Jim made a huge impact on us as we did on him. I’m just so pleased that in the short time with us he had such wonderful experiences and enjoyed every minute.”

Fellow Oldham RL fan Brian Larrard said: “Jim was always there, home and away, until he started being ill about a month ago.

“Roughyeds meant the world to him and he would never think twice about going to the game, no matter how far we had to travel.”

As a small boy, the family lived on Ripponden Road and his passion for his home-town rugby league club developed from the excitement he would get at watching from the front window as coaches and buses carried thousands of fans to Watersheddings.

Gwendolen said: “My mum used to tell me in the early years of their marriage, she made a point of finding out the final score before dad got home from games.

“If Oldham had lost she would wrap black cotton around the knives and forks at teatime. That was how much Oldham Rugby meant to him.”

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