Good Friday win dedicated to Colin Clarke and Clifford Bardsley

Date published: Monday, April 25, 2011

OLDHAM Rugby League Club’s players dedicated their 38-6 win against Rochdale Hornets on Good Friday to the memory of the late father of one of their own.

Colin Clarke, of Cornish Way, Royton, father of Roughyeds’ young prop Chris Clarke, died in Manchester Royal Infirmary last week, aged 50, after a short illness.

Chris (21), who was reared on rugby at Oldham St Anne’s, chose to play in the Roughyeds’ important Championship One clash with Hornets as a tribute to his dad, one of his keenest fans.

He led out the team for a minute’s silence which also remembered 92-year-old Clifford Bardsley, a keen Oldham Rugby supporter for 84 years, who was buried in Morecambe last Wednesday.

Clifford was laid to rest in his club blazer and tie, while a signed Roughyeds jersey was draped over the coffin, on which was placed a red-and-white floral tribute in the shape of a rugby ball.

The “ball” was brought back to Oldham and, watched by members of Mr Bardsley’s family, it was carried out on to the Whitebank pitch, ahead of the teams, by the club’s media manager Roger Halstead, a friend of Clifford for 40 years.

Said club chairman Chris Hamilton: “Chris’s decision to play, as a tribute to his dad, was a brave one. Colin would have been proud of him.

“The other players gave Chris a lot of support — and when he scored a try in the 30th minute every member of the team went across to shake his hand and have a word. That was a special moment.

“We also remembered Clifford, whose support of the club went back to the 1920s. He was unable to attend matches in recent seasons due to his advancing years and the fact that he had moved to live in Guildford, but his love for Oldham Rugby never waned.”

Prop-forward and man of the match Dave Ellison said: “We were all touched by Chris’s brave decision to play. On a personal note I also knew Clifford well. It was a very emotional game for all the players.”