Oldham Born and Bred
Oldham Roughyeds have taken their number of Oldham-born players to seven with the signing of former Wigan, Swinton and Rochdale back Mark Brocklehurst on a one-year contract.
The 23-year-old centre or full-back, who lives in Royton, followed a similar path to his home-town club as that taken by his former Hornets team mate Mick Fogerty, whose capture by the Roughyeds was announced yesterday.
Once there, he was in familiar company with Fogerty and with two of his ex-team mates from Wigan Academy days in Luke Rhoden and Mike Priest.
Though a couple of years older than Rhoden and Priest, Mark also spent four years with the Warriors and learned his sporting trade at one of the most renowned youth development systems in rugby league, often playing in the same Wigan academy side as his two new colleagues at Oldham.
Interestingly, Brocklehurst played at full-back for Wigan in their 33-22 win over Leeds Rhinos at Headingley in the 2005 Junior Academy Grand Final, featuring impressively in a side that included several young players who, five years on, will need no introduction.
Wigan lined up as follows: Mark Brocklehurst; Andrew Thornley, Sean Gleeson, Chris Ashton, David Small; Steven Roper, Sam Tomkins; Lee Jewitt, Thomas Coyle, Matt Astley, Darryl Kay, Neil Holland, John Walker. Subs: Lee Mossop, Earl Hurst, Luke Rhoden, Eamon O'Carrol.
When it was time to seek pastures new, Brocklehurst spent a season at Swinton Lions, scoring four tries in 14 appearances, followed by two seasons at Rochdale in which he recorded ten tries in 42 games overall.
One of the many talented youngsters to roll off the Waterhead production line, he signed for Wigan when he was 16 so he now comes "home" to Oldham as a player who has had both the benefits of a Super League upbringing as well as considerable experience of first-team rugby in the lower divisions.
Outside rugby, Mark works at Hathershaw School as Year 8 manager -- a post in which he is responsible for the pastoral care of Year 8 pupils who know him affectionately as "Mr Brocolli".
Explaining how he came to leave Hornets and to sign for the club on his doorstep, he revealed that he turned down Rochdale's offer of a new deal aimed at keeping him at Spotland for a third year.
"I wasn't happy with it," he said, "and I had always wanted to play for my home-town club at some point so Roughyeds very much appealed to me.
"I didn't know whether there would be a first-team opportunity for me there so I talked to John Hough (reserve-team coach) and he invited me along to train with the reserves and take it from there.
"I figured that I might be able to get into the first-team plans via the reserves so I guess its up to me now to do the best I can.
"I've been training with the reserves for a week or two, but I've signed a one-year contract now and tonight (Thursday) I'll be training with the first team.
"It's a new challenge for me and I am really looking forward to it and looking forward also to pulling on an Oldham jersey. I can't wait".
Brocklehurst joins six other contracted Roughyeds players who carry the "made in Oldham" tag --- Scott Mansfield, Chris Clarke and recent signings Michael Ward, Ben Marsden, Danny Whitmore and Mick Fogerty.