Flag bearer at Wembley

Date published: Wednesday, August 20, 2014

DAVID Murgatroyd will be the proudest man in Wembley on Saturday when he steps on to the hallowed turf carrying the Oldham RLFC flag in the build-up to the Tetley’s Challenge Cup final between Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers.

A representative from each of the clubs which started out on the cup trail last February will take part in the pre-match parade.

“To fly the flag for Oldham Rugby, the club I’ve supported since I was a boy, is a massive honour,” said David, of Derker, who will celebrate his 45th birthday on Friday.

“Players dream of making a Wembley appearance, and only a few fulfil it, yet here am I, a fan, being given that opportunity.

“It will be one of the proudest days of my life, representing my team and my town at Wembley on rugby league’s big day.

“I’ve suffered the heartbreak of watching Oldham lose four Challenge Cup semi-finals, but this will go a long way to making up for all that disappointment.

“I guess it will be a bit emotional too, given that I lost my mum in 2012 and my dad in 2013 and they were both Oldham fans, going back to the fifties.”

David was invited to carry Oldham’s flag by club chairman Chris Hamilton as a thank-you for all the voluntary work he does for his beloved Roughyeds.

He’s been the club photographer for the past six years; he’s the man on the mic at post-match player presentations; he’s a qualified match-day first-aider; and he’ll turn his hand to anything if it’s going to help the club that forms a huge part of his life.
On top of all his other duties at last Sunday’s game against Hemel Stags he worked the public address system because its normal operator was on holiday.

And his 17-year-old son Nathan, who will be going with him to Wembley, is the club’s mascot, Roary the Roughyed.

Back home in Derker, and watching the big event on television, will be wife Julie and their daughter Samantha (16).

Added David: “It’s been a fantastic year for me. I’ve lost six stones in weight at Slimming World (he tips the scales now at 15st) and that enabled me to do things I had only dreamed about previously.

“I swam in the River Thames as part of a relay team in the Windsor Triathlon and at Skipton I took part in an event that involved a 12-mile run with 22 military-type obstacles to get over.

“Having been so overweight for so long, this was to prove to myself that I could do these things.

“Now this — it’s just FANtastic !

“We’ve got a big few days coming up. Samantha gets her GCSE results from Newman College on Thursday, I’m 45 on Friday and then the big day at Wembley on Saturday.”

Said Oldham chairman Chris Hamilton: “David was made up when I asked him to do this for the club and I know he will be very proud.

“He’ll do anything for the club in a voluntary capacity. We are extremely grateful and this is a way in which we can say thank-you and give him something back.”