It is with terrible sadness that we share the news of the sudden death of Mick Coates, without doubt one of the greatest figures in Rangers’ history.
Aged just 60, Mick passed away after suffering a heart attack while out on a bike ride. The club’s deepest condolences go to Tracey, Michael, Liam and Jodie aswell as brother Paul and the rest of the family.
Mick will forever be associated with our club’s most successful era when he coached the first team to three National Cup wins out of four appearances and a National league title.
Before that he played in one of Rangers’ most talented ever youth teams alongside Terry Flanagan and Nicky Kiss among others. He also coached at Higginshaw and Oldham RLFC.
Club Treasurer, Karen Thompson, who has known Mick for decades, said; “The whole club is in total shock and we’ve lost another one of our own far too soon. Our heart goes out to Tracey and the whole family.”
A fierce and skillful competitor on the pitch, Mick’s no nonsense style earned him contracts at Rochdale Hornets and Swinton before a back injury brought his career to a premature end. The pro game’s loss was Rangers’ gain as he set about building a team in the late 80s and early 90s that set new standards in amateur rugby league.
Current open age coach Sean Whitehead was Mick’s captain and said; “His man-management was fantastic. He was very bright and sharp and he moulded those players. He took a good side and took them to the next level with a style of rugby that was about mobility and fitness. Everyone looks back on those as the ‘pinch me’ years. It was incredibly special for everyone involved.”
An electrician by trade, Mick was a proud family man, a friend to many and a popular and respected character around the club and at amateur rugby clubs in Oldham.
Few people have left a bigger mark on Saddleworth Rangers than Mick Coates. Memories of his brutal fitness sessions still send shudders down the spines of those who endured them. Playing against him in a ‘friendly’ game of touch rugby was a life-enhancing experience for those who survived. A generation of players and spectators now look back and consider it a privilege to have been on the pitch or the touchline as part of that era he helped create.
If you want to raise a glass to Mick at Rangers the club bar will be open on Saturday from 4-8pm and from midday on Bank Holiday Sunday. The Masters will be holding a minute’s applause in Mick’s honour before their touch rugby game on the main pitch at 1.15pm.
Pictured: Mick with two of his National Cup winning teams, wit his cup winning U18s in 1978 and with Michael, Liam, Paul and two of his grandchildren in a feature for the 90th anniversary brochure.