Stuart McDonough

Date published: Monday, November 26, 2012

RUGBY League paid its last respects on Friday to former Oldham publican Stuart McDonough, who served the sport at local and national levels for much of his life.

Fiercely proud of his local roots, and a lifelong supporter of Oldham RLFC, he died on November 14 at the age of 82 without ever fulfilling his greatest sporting wish . . . to see the Roughyeds playing in a Challenge Cup final at Wembley.
Remarkably, he attended every such final at the famous venue from 1946, when normal service was resumed after a seven-year break for the second world war, until he was in his late 70s.
One year, during a train strike, he got a lift from Barton Aerodrome to Surrey in a privately-owned six-seater plane and then hitched lifts up to Wembley, arriving just before kick off.
In later life he was a founder member of the British Amateur Rugby League Association (BARLA) and chairman of the Oldham Amateur League and for several years he was an official of his beloved Oldham RLFC in the days when it was a members’ club run by an elected committee.
Among the organisations represented at his requiem mass at St Edward’s RC Church in Lees, Oldham or later at Oldham Crematorium were Oldham RLFC, the Oldham Amateur League, the Oldham Players’ Association (former players) and BARLA, headed by Steve Manning and Maurice Oldroyd.
There was also a large contingent of officials and players from Oldham St Anne’s where Stuart was club steward for several years.
The coffin was carried by a grandson, Jason Smithies, and five stalwarts of the local rugby league scene, Sean Whitehead, Chris Deakin, Paul Deakin, David Best and Jason Best.
Floral tributes were in red and white — Oldham colours — and the family requested that wherever possible rugby ties should be worn.
Speaking at the crematorium of Stuart’s life in rugby league, Roughyeds media manager and former Oldham Chronicle RL writer Roger Halstead said he had been a great ambassador and an enthusiastic worker for the sport which would be all the poorer for his passing.
Donations in lieu of flowers are going to Try-Assist, the RFL Benevolent Fund which supports, among others, players who have been seriously injured.