November 24th 1950 was a good day for my dad as I was born and that meant that on the 25th he would be able to watch Batley play Liverpool Stanley! It had snowed all day and my Mum had to trek with my Uncle Len to the Maternity Home on Bradford Road. I was born into a family of ardent Batley fans who lived just two streets away from the ground.
Family legend says that I was a supporter even before I was born because my Mum also went to matches. It was a very busy life for fans as often we were to be seen observing training sessions on Tuesday and Thursday night, supporting the second team and the first team as well. My Dad used to take me in my pram and collect the balls that had bounced off the field as we walked around.
I can’t remember my first match as a standing supporter but from quite and early age my Dad and I would go on special trips away when he could get home from work early enough. They were always on the supporters bus – my Dad in his suit, overcoat and flat cap and me well wrapped up. He wouldn’t stand for me not taking notice of the game and he always talked to me about the players, the tactics and the outcomes. I even learnt some naughty words – but never used them.
I can remember thinking that even the shortest journeys, like those to say Halifax were great adventures. Whenever it was match in Hull the coach always stopped for refreshments at a café near the old iron bridge on the Beverley Road.
I’ve always had a great fondness for our ground because it is ours! Of course it’s changed a lot but there is pride in the efforts of our directors, chairman and supporters to keep it. Just after the war my Dad who’d been away a long time abroad joined the supporters club and they re-instated, in concrete, the stepped terrace where the family stand is now. He worked alongside Ron Earnshaw, John Winner and Stanley Beaumont to put on Gala days – and of course I tagged along.
When I married in 1976 – I married a Batley supporter (who incidentally came from Dewsbury) and our son was taken to matches as soon as he was old enough. We were three generations on the terraces at one time and when the new Family stand was getting started we had the honour of being asked to lay the foundation stone.
It’s 2019 now and though my Dad has gone the three of us support the club avidly. Indeed we support Rugby League, because if there is a game on the television – it doesn’t who it is – we will watch it. We’ve watched Batley through the thick and thin of it. I remember when my Dad passed away we ordered flowers in Batley colours!
When I go to matches these days it makes me very happy to see so many women supporters. Ther was a day when in my opinion they may have attended but the attitude was ‘what do women know about our game?’ Well they know a lot and the great thing is that they now have a voice.
Pauline Nicholson 2019