Derek Turner dies, aged 82Date published: Wednesday, August 5, 2015
DEREK Turner, an Oldham Rugby League Club legend, has died in Wakefield at the age of 82.
Known as ‘Rocky’ throughout the rugby league world, he was a loose-forward of exceptional talent who ranked alongside centre Alan Davies as the best of the best in the great Oldham side that won the sport’s Championship Final at Odsal, Bradford in 1957.
During that magical period in the club’s history, Turner was feared throughout the sport — at international level, too — as a loose-forward who was rough, tough and exceptionally gifted with ball in hand. He was also renowned as a ferocious tackler.
He signed for Oldham from Hull KR in 1955 and made a total of 134 appearances for the club, scoring 35 tries, before being transferred to Wakefield Trinity in 1958.
The biggest and best of his 134 games in the crack Watersheddings side of the late fifties was that Championship Final at Bradford when Oldham beat Hull 15-14 in front of a crowd of more than 62,000.
At that time, Hull’s equally famous loose-forward Johnny Whiteley formed a triumvirate of brilliant British No 13s with Turner and Vince Karalius of St Helens and the Great Britain selectors struggled to decide who was the best, often picking two of them in the second-row with the other at loose-forward.
Both Turner and Whiteley gave outstanding performances in the 1957 final, Oldham prevailing thanks to Colin Hutton’s failure to convert a late try for Hull by winger Stan Cowan.
Oldham lined up like this: Ganley; Cracknell, Davies, Ayres, Etty; Daley, Pitchford; Jackson, Keith, Vines, Little, Winslade, Turner.
With Turner in tow, Oldham also won the Lancashire Cup in 1956, 1957 and 1958.
He won 11 Great Britain caps while at Watersheddings, but his big regret was that Oldham never reached the Challenge Cup final at Wembley.
That was to change for him when he left Oldham and led Wakefield to three Wembley victories in 1960, 1962 and 1963.
Later, as a coach, he led Castleford to similar success in 1969 and then did the same for Leeds in 1972.