My Hero No. 3: Rodger Wylde

My Hero No. 3: Rodger Wylde


I first started watching Wednesday in the 1964/65 season when I was about 10. We had an average 1st Division team in those days, finishing in average positions, with average players (except of course for the legend that was Ron Springett – see Charlie’s My Hero article)

My favourite player in those days was David Ford an inside forward who scored the second goal in the 1966 FA Cup final – he eventually went to Newcastle in December 1969 in exchange for Jackie Sinclair

We got relegated in that 1969/70 season and gradually over the next 5 years we got worse and worse and worse and plummeted to the Third Division on April’s fool day 1975. We only managed to score 2 goals in the last 17 games that season – still, in my very honest opinion, one of the most amazing Wednesday statistics ever – I went to ALL of those 17 games, flipping heck those were depressing times.

The only player in that era who anyone could possibly begin to call a hero would have been Tommy Craig; it was a real shame for him that he had to play in such poor teams.

The slide didn’t end there and we were soon fighting for our lives in the 3rd Division and only stayed up by avoiding defeat in our last match of the season.

It’s hard to imagine how poor most of the players were back then and some were truly atrocious … Peter Feely, Fred McIvor, Ian Fleming. If you were looking for a hero this wasn’t the place to be. Not a hero in sight, not by a long long way or so I thought.

Enter Rodger Wylde:-


Rodger had joined Wednesday straight from school in July 1971 and made his first team debut in November 1972 at the age of 18 and scored his first goal two weeks later but he struggled to establish a regular starting place in the side in the next two seasons

Rodger was given his chance after the appointment of Len Ashurst as manager and in 1975/76 he started 22 games from December onwards but only scored a few goals but obviously did enough to convince the manager that he was worthy of leading the attack at the start of the 1976/77 season.

In the first game of that season Rodger scored a couple of goals in a League Cup victory at Grimsby and he never looked back and he ended up playing nearly every match and scoring an incredible, for a Wednesday player, 25 goals.  Teaming up with Tommy Tynan, a wonderful close season signing from Liverpool, they scored 40 between them.

Rodger continued to score goals regularly over the following two seasons and became a firm favourite with the fans and a hero in my eyes.

He loved playing to the crowd and his trademark celebration after scoring a goal was to go on his knees with arms aloft in front of the fans blowing kisses.

Rodger was tall, elegant, skilful, intelligent, clever, polished, flamboyant, good in the air, confident.


You may read that he was given the nickname of Oscar but I think 99% of supporters just called him Rodger.

We played a League Cup game at Wolves in early 1977 when we were in mid table in the Third Division and they were near the top of the Second Division so nobody gave us a chance of getting any kind of result. We started well and went one up with an early goal from Eric Potts, Wolves equalised with just 20 minutes left and from then on it was all one way traffic towards the Wednesday goal but with 4 minutes left Rodger slammed in a fierce drive and sent the huge Wednesday following delirious. He slid towards our end on his knees with his arms in the air in supplication. Absolutely wonderful and although it might not sound too special now it was a rare magic moment in those dark days in the 70s.

Another game that stands out that 1977/78 season was a game at Rotherham on Easter Tuesday night. It was the 4th league game we had played against them in two years and we hadn’t won any of them and being a lad from Rotherham and most of my mates supporting them it was a tad embarrassing to say the least. There was a crowd of over 17,000 and Wednesday come out on top 1-0 and of course it was Rodger that got it with a brilliant header out-jumping the Rotherham defence. What a fantastic night that was.

The following 1977/78 season he ONLY scored 14 goals including a hat-trick against Doncaster in the League Cup. He was pretty much overshadowed by Tommy Tynan.

I can’t remember exactly when it was but we played a game one Tuesday night at Preston after there had been an article in the previous home programme where Rodger had mentioned he was really into music and especially punk. When the team came out to warm up everyone started singing “Rodger is a punk rocker” and he started pogo-ing on the edge of the box.

In 1978/79 with Tynan gone Rodger was pretty much on his own up front as a succession of partners were tried and failed but Rodger was so good he still managed to score 17 goals

Rodger played a major part in the 5 game marathon FA Cup tie against Arsenal in the cup in that season, in fact he scored the goal at Highbury that looked like winning the game for us until their last gasp equaliser spoiled everything. He played in all our 9 FA Cup games that season but didn’t make it to the 4th round.

There was another great game at Rotherham in October 1979 when all the Rotherham Owls, me included, decided to stand on the home end (the Tivoli) which was about 50/50 each side of the exit tunnel

There was a huge cheer when Wednesday came out and the first song from the away end was…

“He’s here, he’s there, he’s every fucking where Rodger Wylde, Rodger Wylde”

Rodger was stood applauding the fans then suddenly just as loud from the home end we started singing

“He’s here, he’s there, he’s every fucking where Rodger Wylde, Rodger Wylde”

Rodger looked over a little surprised but then started laughing and waving. Priceless.

A mate of my mate’s Dad worked with a bloke who was an amazing artist and he sketched caricatures of some of the Wednesday players at the time. He only ever did one original of each player. I bought Rodger off him and my mate bought Terry Curran.It’s still one of my prized possessions to this day.


That 1979/80 season was his last for Wednesday, he started well managed to score another 8 goals in the opening 15 games or so but he seemed to fall out of favour with Jack Charlton and only played a handful of games. This was the season that Terry Curran, Andy McCulloch and Ian Mellor (Neil’s dad) stormed the 3rd Division defences and Rodger got less and less of a look in.

He didn’t play in the Boxing Day Massacre and only played one game after that before he was sold to Oldham Athletic in February for £80k a very very sad day indeed.

He had a great few years and the fans had loved him. He had that great knack of being in the right place at the right time to convert chances. He was a lethal finisher in and around the penalty area and provided a bright spark for the fans during an extremely gloomy era.

He was pretty successful at Oldham scoring over 50 goals in a just over 100 games before moving on to Sporting Lisbon!!! He finished his career playing at Stockport, Rotherham and Barnsley before taking a physiotherapy degree in 1989 and becoming the Physio at Stockport where he still is today.

At a game at Stockport a few years ago I was desperate for a Stockport player to go down injured and needing treatment in front of the away side terrace. “Luckily” someone did and the tall, elegant unmistakable figure of Rodger came running over … the older ones amongst us couldn’t wait…

“He’s here, he’s there, he’s every fucking where Rodger Wylde, Rodger Wylde”

The smile on his face was wonderful, he was loving it, he waved to us and we cheered him – a wonderful, maybe even a little tear in the eye, moment.


He was inducted into Stockport’s Hall of Fame in 2006.
Apparently to this day Stockport fans sing  “Oh, Rodger, Rodger” when he comes onto the pitch.

I kept a scrapbook during the 1976/77 season; here are some of the headlines:

“Double salute for hero Wylde”

“Jolly Rodger”

“Rodger and Out”

“Wylde’s winner makes Wednesday smile”

“Wylde’s the joker in Ashurt’s pack”

“Fans go Wylde!”

“Wylde back in business”

“Wylde the saviour”

“Slick Wylde grabs decider”

“It’s a Wylde night for Wednesday”

The rapport between fans and player was incredible, at a time when Wednesday fans were desperate for a goalscoring a hero, Rodger arrived. We took him to our hearts and I like to think he reciprocated that love.

A lovely player and a smashing bloke.

David (HarrySpeakup)
Owls Alive
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive


3 Comments

  1. Good article, just linked to it from Rodger Wylde official website http://www.rodgerwylde.com thanks

  2. All time Wednesday favourite, gutted when Big Jack started to leave him out, even if the team got better. This is a great article, brings back fond memories of a class act. Remember a back post header against Bury(?) one Tuesday night where he seemed to hang forever before bulleting the ball home. And the trademark celebration after the Wolves League Cup winner was a back page picture in the Mirror with the headline “Wylde and Wonderful”. It’s my daughter’s 19th birthday 9th July, am sure she’ll enjoy her treat of a night out in Stockport watching her old man’s hero!

  3. My first memory is of going to the training ground and helping him collect all the balls as he was an apprentice then . If memory serves, I think he scored 6 for the reserves at Maine Road the week after and you knew he was going to make the first team sooner or later

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