First published in the Saddleworth Independent
SADDLEWORTH Rangers and the wider rugby family are mourning the death of Shane ‘Jocky’ Wilson at the age of 50.
Rangers’ chairman, who had been at the club since the age of seven, had fought a lengthy and brave battle against bowel cancer.
Shane, who was also a trustee of the club, was being treated at The Christie where he had been taking part in an immunotherapy trial.
“Shane was prepared to give anything a go to try and beat it,” explained younger brother Sean.
In a lifetime at the Greenfield-based club, Shane, who began in the Under-7s, played in every team, won Standard Cups, coached the seconds and for a time was assistant coach to the first team before becoming chairman.
Shane’s love for coaching remained and he still coached the U15s whose side included his son Freddie. He had taken them from the ages of five and six years and they were arguably the best group the club had ever produced with 12 signing scholarship forms with Super League clubs.
But it was his drive, determination and enthusiasm as chairman of the Shaw Hall Bank Road club that drove it forward.
Shane was the pivotal figure behind the building of the new clubhouse and he also oversaw other improvements.
“Rangers was his passion, his baby. He looked after the club like it was his own business,” explained Sean.
Shane was previously understudy to former chairman Ronnie Hardaker before succeeding him – in those days Sean said he was known as ‘little Ronnie’.
He was born at 271 Huddersfield Road, Diggle, where his grandparents were licensees of the Hanging Gate and Diggle Hotel.
Shane attended Diggle Primary and, when the family moved to Grasscroft, he transferred to St Ann’s, Lydgate, and later to Saddleworth School.
He began working as an apprentice for Oldham firm Armer Quality Components, a business started by his father Mervyn 47 years ago.
Shane and Sean took over the business, one of the longest established and most successful sheet metal companies in the North West, when Mervyn retired.
The business, which employs 13 people, does work for companies including the telecommunications and metal cleaning products industries.
Sean added Shane lived a rich and fulfilling life.
He explained: “Shane may have been young at 50, but he packed a lot into his life.
“In his earlier days, he had lived in Australia and Thailand and he had friendships all over the world.
“Don’t think he had not done anything, and he also leaves a legacy at Saddleworth Rangers.”
Sean added he took immense pride from the U15s he coached with Darrel Rogers and Kevin Sinfield.
He said: “Shane used to say how proud he was of his kids, but now it was his ‘young men’.
“It was not only about developing them as players but also as people. He instilled in them all the best attributes and they are a fantastic set of lads who did him proud.
“It was not only the kids here, but Shane was interested in promoting all junior rugby in Oldham and nobody was more proud than him when a lad from the town sign pro forms, whichever club he played for.”
Shane, who lived in Moorside, leaves wife Karen, children Freddie, 15, and Francesca, 12, parents Mervyn and Margaret and brother Sean.