ALLAN Dalton is Saddleworth Rangers’ oldest player as he is still turning out for the Shaw Hall Bank Road club aged 61.
As Rangers marches into its 10th decade, Allan’s extraordinary career has seen him play rugby, professionally and amateur, during six different decades.
Allan, once a hooker but now a winger, still turns out for the club’s masters’ team which is for Over-35s which makes him a veteran of the veterans’ side.
Though games have only been sporadic because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Allan, who was raised in Royton and now lives in Bardsley, has no imminent plans to retire.
He said: “I am going to carry on as long as my joints allow me to do.
“They are a bit creaky, and I suffer from arthritis. The key is to keep moving as once you stop, they will seize up.”
Allan added that playing on the wing is far less physically demanding than hooker.
“I try to keep out on the wing so opponents can run around me rather than through me,” he joked.
Allan keeps fit by swimming as that is not as hard on the joint, and he also does some circuit training as part of a keep-fit class.
Though Allan had had spells at pro clubs Rochdale Hornets and Nottingham and played amateur for Shaw, Hollinwood, Tameside and Oldham St Annes, he has always gravitated back to Rangers which is his club and where he has played much of his rugby.
It was back in 1975 when Allan first turned out for the Under-16s. In those long-gone days they did not have any teams at younger age groups.
Allan played rugby for Royton and Crompton School and the Oldham U16s town team whose coach asked the 15-year-old if he was interested in joining Rangers.
Another of Rangers’ U16 players lived on the same street in Royton so Allan was sorted for lifts to training and matches.
Allan rose through the ranks at Rangers appearing for the U16, a hugely successful U18s, A and first teams before being snapped up by Hornets aged 19.
“I had a couple of years with Hornets, but never appeared in the first team, though I was once in the squad,” he recalled.
“I played for the U19s and A team and later had a couple of games for Nottingham who had a semi-pro team at that time.”
When that didn’t work out, Allan returned to the grassroots game locally while combining that with working mainly in the building trade.
Allan, now semi-retired and an occasional handyman, enjoyed great success playing for Rangers.
He was a member of the first team which won the National Cup for the first time in 1991-92 and the subsequent open top bus tour of Saddleworth and a civic reception provided wonderful memories.
They had been runners-up the previous year in the National Cup. There was also victory in the Manx Cup on the Isle of Man.
Allan also helped Rangers’ A team win three trophies in a memorable 1992-93 season as well as reaching the semi-finals of the Lancashire Cup.
During his lengthy playing career, Allan has played with and against many top-class players.
He was in the same Oldham Schools’ U11 sides as Nicky Kiss and Terry Flanagan who went on to have great careers in the game.
And he also recalled playing against Ellery Hanley (Corpus Christie, Leeds) and Andy Gregory (Wigan St Patrick) before they were famous.
Allan, who still attends most first-team matches at Rangers, is delighted with the way the club is flourishing and continues to produce players as underlined by the U16 players who recently signed professional contracts with Super League clubs.
He said: “When I joined, the U16s was the only junior side. Now they have teams from U7 and Tots at an even younger age.
“There are hundreds of players at the club and the future looks good, especially if they can keep hold of some of the better young players and they can become first-team players.
“When I joined there was a little wooden hut which was the clubhouse. Since then, there was the old clubhouse which has been replaced the recent new one which is fabulous. The club is definitely moving forward in the right direction.”