We used to live across the valley from the Batley Bulldogs ground up Soothill, we could see the flagpole and knew that if the flag was flying there was a game on. My first match was when I was aged about 8. It was a Boxing Day tradition with my Grandpa, Dad and Uncle all attending and then we all went for tea, I remember it well … tinned fruit with Carnation Milk and then cards and dominoes in the front room.
My next main memory is while attending Batley Girls Grammar School, my best friends Dad was one of the Directors at the club and we watched the match every Saturday and I occasionally used to attend away matches with them. There were no posters or internet then so I took photos, kept diaries and collected autographs. That’s when I started to follow Batley seriously, always watching from the front of the Long Stand (no longer there) then as you grew in confidence I worked my way to the back with all the singing and chanting. “I loved the banter”. I loved sport at school, I was never any good but I played hockey, rounders and tennis, even playing hockey against my future husband’s team and he scored a goal against us!
My husband is a Leeds United supporter and so I promised to go to a match or two with him if he would come to a few Batley games with me. He enjoyed them as did I but I’m rugby through and through and he is football. I used to bring my children to the games but they followed in their father’s footsteps and follow Leeds United. Once in the early 90’s my son had the opportunity to be mascot at Chelsea for Leeds United, my husband was not too pleased when we had to drive down so I could rush back up on Sunday for a Doncaster Cup Game. To this day we support different sports and teams.
“If it’s your team you follow ’em through thick and thin”
As a child I remember the Pools man, Ron Earnshaw, coming to collect our money weekly and giving us all the updates on the players and matches. I started coming to Ron’s Breakfast Club in 2012 when it started. It’s great for not only a good bacon sandwich but getting a post mortem of the game and a catch up with other fans.
I wore one of the number 0’s on the Pink Walk to Wembley celebrating 120 years of Rugby League, walking from the London Bronco’s ground to Wembley and round the pitch. We all had letters on and had to sit in designated seats so when the cameras panned to us we would read. Batley 10 St Helen’s 3 1897 Final Happy 120th Rugby League Challenge Cup I am also on the committee and former secretary of BISSA the Independent Supporters Squadbuilding Association, every penny goes towards payments for the players, (even expenses are given by the committee) and everything we fundraise is for the team on the field. So far we have raised approximately £200,000 since its inception.