Rugby hero Kevin Flanagan loses battle against cancer

TRIBUTES have been paid to Kevin Flanagan, a member of an Oldham rugby family dynasty, who has died at the age of 74 following a 15-month battle with cancer.

Kevin’s funeral is at Oldham Crematorium is on Tuesday, October 5 (1.30pm).

Afterwards all are welcome for the wake at High Crompton Conservative Club, Salisbury Street, High Crompton.

A ball-playing back-row forward, Kevin made 78 appearances for Oldham RLFC and also starred for Rochdale Hornets.

Kevin with his wife Diane and sons Gary and John

Younger brother Terry, a former GB international and also back-row forward, said: “He was my hero as a child, and I learned tricks from my big brother Kev.

“Our family has been involved in rugby in Oldham in each decade since the 1930s when my father started playing, and Kev was a big part of that.

“He was so well liked in Oldham rugby circles as we have seen from the many tributes, and I am very proud of him.”

Kevin, who lived at High Crompton, first played for St Mary’s, an amateur club run by his father and uncle.

He was an outstanding junior and was named man of the match in the final of the Standard Cup playing for St Mary’s aged 16 and he turned professional with Oldham RLFC at the same age.

Kevin and Terry, now president of Saddleworth Rangers, followed in the footsteps of their father Bill, a hooker who played for Oldham in the mid-1940s, though he was better known as a star of the old Belle Vue Rangers side.

The family lived in the St Mary’s district of Oldham before branching out to Royton and High Crompton.

Kevin Flanagan

The contribution made by Kevin to local amateur rugby league, to Oldham and to Rochdale Hornets should never be forgotten.

He had links to Ferranti, Oldham St Annes, Shaw and Fitton Hill and Terry can even recall Kevin turning out for Saddleworth Rangers in a sevens tournament.

He was a student of the game, knowledgeable, skilful and a forward who was a true ‘thinker’ in the days when loose forwards were expected to be more creative than they are in today’s game.

Kevin had two spells at Watersheddings in the late 1960s and then the 1970s. He also had several years at Rochdale and his ex-Hornets colleagues, and fellow Oldhamers, Mick Crocker, Norman Brelsford and Alan Taylor, have made personal tributes in a notice circulated by Hornets’ Past Players’ Association.

In more recent years, Kevin’s wife Diane worked for Roughyeds in hospitality on matchdays and Kevin was often at Oldham games with her. He also leaves sons Gary and John.

The Flanagan dynasty, started by Bill, included Kevin, Terry and Terry’s son Mark, who played for Saddleworth Rangers, Bradford Northern, St Helens, Wigan, St Helens and Wests Tigers (Australia) before recently retiring with Salford Red Devils his last club. There was also Kevin’s cousin Neil Flanagan who also played for Oldham RLFC as well as Huddersfield.

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