Tributes to Shane ‘Jocky’ Wilson

KEVIN Sinfield and Darrel Rogers, who along with Shane ‘Jocky’ Wilson coached Saddleworth Rangers’ Under-15s, led the tributes.

Kevin, the Leeds Rhino’s legend, described Shane, who was also chairman, as the “heartbeat” of the rugby club.

It was nine years ago that Kevin’s eldest son Jack joined Rangers aged six and most of that group remained with Shane throughout.

Kevin said: “Jocky became a good mate, an amazing man with a heart of gold.

“His commitment to that team, the parents and Saddleworth Rangers as a club was extraordinary.

“Jocky was a brilliant man and his death is tragic. He was a fighter and threw everything at beating the illness. It is so sad.”

Shane Wilson

Kevin also explained how the coaching dynamics worked with the U15s.

He said: “The three of us had a good relationship and a friendship. He was the driving force, I was more the water carrier.

“Jocky was the heartbeat of that age group and Saddleworth Rangers as a club. His death is a huge loss.”

The U15s, who included Shane’s son Freddie, were also possibly the most successful group the club has ever produced with a dozen players signing scholarships with Super League clubs.

Kevin added: “That was great to get recognition from pro clubs.

“More important than that, though, Jocky instilled great values in them and because of that they are 20 young men who have become good citizens.

“Jocky was central to that and had a huge impact on their lives.”

This was echoed by Darrel who said: “I spoke to Jocky three days before he died and our last conversation was emotional.

“He was very poorly but his focus was on the kids. He had coached them from the ages of five and six and loved them.

Shanes wife Karen left a heartfelt message on facebook

“It was not just about winning but the values he put into them to become good people whether they became a joiner, plasterer or brain surgeon.

“It was about learning, doing the right things and being part of a team.”

Darrel added it had been Shane’s dream to take the U15s on tour to the south of France in 2020 but that was cancelled through Covid-19.

The U15s had several games organised including a curtain-raiser before the Catalan Dragons versus Leeds Rhinos Super League game.

“It was Jocky’s dream to take the boys away and it was a big blow when that didn’t happen,” he said.

Darrel described Shane as the “life and soul” of Rangers.

“I have known Jocky for more than 30 years and he was Rangers through and through. He was a one-man club,” he said.

Darrel continued: “Jocky was such a character and such fun to be around and his death is a huge loss, not only to the club but also the community.

“He would take the micky out of himself and I have a lot of fond memories, especially the annual coach trips to the Challenge Cup final at Wembley.”

Karen Thompson, Rangers’ treasurer, admitted whoever succeeds Shane as chairman will have an enormous job.

She said: “Rangers was his life and whoever takes over from him will have big shoes to fill.

“He was unique in that his dedication to Rangers was second to none – he ate, slept and breathed the club from the age of seven when he joined.

“Jocky was a great club man, a great chairman who was the driving force behind the new clubhouse, extending the pitch, building new dugouts and putting up new posts.

“We will miss him tremendously, but his legacy will live on.”

Karen added while his great motivation was the juniors who he integrated within the main club, he was also equally committed to the open-age teams and passionate about everything Rangers and rugby league.

She said: “Jocky was proud of everything everyone at the club had achieved and it is a very sad time for Rangers to have lost him.”

Wes Rogers was Rangers’ first-team coach when Shane was chairman.

He recalled: “Jocky was black and white and, if you cut him open, was Rangers through and through, and always gave 100 per cent.

“He was always supportive when I was coach and we had success winning the Standard Cup and promotion in the National Conference League which we dedicated to him as it came after he was diagnosed with the disease which was emotional.

“Rangers was probably the fourth love of his life behind his wife, children and family.

“Shane was a genuine, nice guy who played and coached at the club before becoming chairman.

“We will rally round as a rugby family to support his wife Karen and children Freddie and Francesca at this sad time.”

Shane Wilson

There was a tribute from Oldham RLFC whose media manager Roger Halstead had known Shane for many years.

Roger said: “He was a terrific guy. He wasn’t the best player Rangers have ever produced, but he was the sort you would want in the trenches next to you.

“He had Rangers running through his veins. In later years, when he had coaching responsibilities at the club, I would speak to him regularly in my capacity as a local journalist and he was an absolute delight to work with irrespective of whether Rangers had won or lost.

“I was amazed at the way he has faced up to work and to retaining his commitment to Rangers, to such an extent that he would go with them on long away trips to Cumbria within days of coming out of hospital after extensive and intrusive chemo.

“He was unbelievable in his refusal to give in to cancer and in his love of and commitment to Rangers to the very end.

“A year or two ago, my family and I bumped into him in a cafe at The Christie where we were with our daughter. Typical of the man, and despite his own severe illness, he never once failed to inquire about the health of our daughter whenever I knocked on his door after our chance meeting at The Christie.

“Rangers have lost a legend. Just as significantly, rugby league in the Oldham area has lost one of its leading lights and one of its leading ambassadors.”

A tribute on Rangers’ club website said: “He put up his hand for any and every job that needed to be done at the club and he followed every team, from first team down to the juniors, while supporting every event the club put on.”

And wife Karen added: “He fought to the very end and he passed away peacefully with Freddie and Francesca by his side.

“He was such a loved and popular man with his larger-than-life character. We can’t believe he’s gone. No doubt he will have found the bar and he’ll be raising a glass of San Miguel.”

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