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Joanne Throssell

Joanne Throssell

  • Hull

Joanne was always a Hull KR supporter she was never given a choice. Her family were always actively involved at the club and supporters club. When teaching took her to South Yorkshire, she continued to spread the Rugby League gospel. Julia Lee finds out about Joanne’s life in rugby league

[How did you get involved in rugby league?]

I suppose from being a baby, really. My mum, dad and brother and other members of family all came so that was it. It wasn’t really a choice. I’m from East Hull. My dad’s family are the rugby fans, so I suppose my mum married into it, but she goes, so we all just went.  I always remember going through a time – I was about three I think – I didn’t like the noise, so I used to go to my grandma’s in an afternoon, but I soon got fed up of being left out. So, I’ve been a season ticket holder since I was about 5.

The only time I haven’t was when I was a student, because I couldn’t afford it, but I used to come to games – I used to beg my mum and dad to pay for me. You know, the time when students had no money – I was one of those. I used to stand – that was my first go in the east stand. I had always been a West Stander – we sat down, we were posh at the old ground, we sat in the posh seats – the ones with a back, not just a bench. My grandad used to ‘rent’ a cushion for us too. And then we moved to the new ground, we still had seats. But then I began university so I used to go and stand in the east stand and I didn’t like it very much, but…

[What did you enjoy about coming?]

I suppose that it’s just something that I do and have always done. People ask me about it a lot, because I now live in an area that’s not a rugby area and I’m a female, so people tend to ask you – but it’s just something that you did, it’s what we did, and… I do enjoy watching the rugby, of course I do. It’s a great game- fast moving, full of collisions and excitement: I suppose it just gets into your blood. My dad was a volunteer, he did the scoreboard when I was very young and then the announcing, so we were always here – every match. I wasn’t a traditional daddy’s girl but I hated to miss out, so I came with him to reserve matches, colts matches, and I’d just be there trundling behind him. I think that’s where my love of the smell of liniment came from. When he used to go down the tunnel and get the team sheets I had to wait at the entrance: so I used to stand there and sniff. And then, of course, you learn the game as you’re getting a bit older and you start to understand more. And now, I watch a lot of rugby, I don’t just watch Rovers, I watch a lot of rugby. Luckily, my husband enjoys it too.

[With Rovers, are there any particularly memorable moments?]

I suppose one of my happiest and most frustrating moments was when we won the Challenge Cup, because I wasn’t there. I’d been to the semi-final, when we beat Halifax, and I always remember that Monday morning. Actually, we’d all gone to school, cos I was 7. So we’d all gone to school and my head teacher, Mrs Blogg, had asked about it, because obviously it was quite an exciting moment, and she’d asked something like, “Does anybody know what the score was?” and of course, being, I would have been, what, year 2, and I had my hand up and I was like, I know, I know what’s going on. And she asked an older boy, who had not even been to the game. She asked him about it and I was there. I was fuming – how dare she! Then I didn’t get to go to Wembley, and I was absolutely devastated that I wasn’t allowed– wasn’t allowed isn’t the right word I want – I would have been allowed but circumstances conspired against me… My mum and dad went to Wembley every year anyway with Rovers supporters club, so they were already going. My brother was going with school. He was at junior school and I was only at primary school, so he was going on their organised big trip. And my grandad had won tickets, two tickets, and he was taking someone else. So, there was nobody to take me, so I had to stay at home, and I remember crying when Jonathan (my brother) left to get up and go and I remember pretending to be asleep, because I didn’t want him to see me crying. I was left with my grandma all day. I was, “Oh no, I have to stay with Grandma and everybody else gets to go to the rugby.” That sounds horrible of me but she didn’t watch rugby and I was only 7. That morning she took me into town, and she bought me a new doll’s outfit, which my doll wears to this day because it’s the lucky outfit. Then I sat and watched the game with a Hull supporter, who was my grandma’s friend, so that was good. Bittersweet memories of that day, I suppose.

[Did you see the homecoming?]

Yes. So, me and my brother – Mum and Dad were still on their weekend away – me and my brother and my cousin Mark went and watched them come through Sutton. I don’t remember a lot about it to be honest but I know I was there. On the Monday, there was a celebration at Rovers Supporters Club and we were at that as well. I’ve got photos of me with the cup, cos it was kept in Supporters Club for a time. My dad was the treasurer of Supporters Club and my mum cleaned Supporters Club, so I spent a lot of my childhood, actually, at Craven Park. Helping Mum clean and helping Dad count money and whatever and it was in there, so we had some photos done with other members of the family, privately with the Cup, so that was good. Then my Uncle Bill had managed to get hold of a copy on video and we went to his house to watch it all over again. Not many people had videos back then so it was strange being able to watch it back.

The other event I was involved in regarding us winning the cup was the Lord Mayor’s Parade. The Club had a ‘float’ that year to parade the cup. I don’t know how we got picked to do it, it was probably something to do with my dad. We met at Fair ground one Saturday in June. It was wet and miserable all day. I can remember sheltering in the cab of the lorry to keep dry. On the float with us was Steve Hubbard (who apparently injured his knee again on the float) and Roy Holdstock. I had to wave and smile – not my favourite thing. I seem to recall I was quite grumpy at having to be pleasant in the horrible weather.

[So, you’d have spent a lot of time in the Supporters Club itself?]

I did. My mum cleaned it on a Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and my dad did a lot of his treasury work on a Sunday so I used to go and help whenever I wasn’t at school. My job was to take all the beer mats off the tables. I used to clean the ashtrays. My mum gave me all the glamourous jobs to do! So I would clean the ashtrays and then put all the beer mats in the ashtrays so mum could clean the tables. She always used to let me have a drink. That was exciting, getting your drink from the pump as if you were a proper barmaid. Then I used to clean the mirrors in the toilets. That was another of my jobs. If the drummer had left his drumsticks, I used to be allowed to go on the drums on the stage. I suppose one of my biggest supporters’ club memories is of Christmases. They used to do a big raffle at Christmas. Everybody used to get books of tickets and I used to help. We had an old typewriter and I used to type everybody’s envelopes, which used to take forever. I don’t know how many members there were in the supporters’ club, but every member used to get a set of tickets, so I used to type out all of them. I used to help deliver them too. Anything around Ings Road Estate, which is near where we lived was mine. I used to get on my bike and go and deliver all of these envelopes. Then they’d come back in and I used to count the money. I loved counting money – I used to sit with all this money on the floor and take great pride in making sure it was all in correct piles and bagged up properly. I’d count the money and then scrunch up the tickets. Imagine scrunching up thousands of tickets – bags and bags of them whilst watching telly. When I say about rugby being in your blood, to me Rovers – not just the game but the club was just something that I grew up with.

Also, through my dad being announcer, my cousin and my uncle actually did the scoreboard and then I started doing it as well, so I used to do it for A-team (reserves) matches and Colts and anything. I did a schoolboy international once and things, so I sort of got involved in that as well.

There are some lovely, lovely memories, and not, really, I cannot remember nasty ones. I suppose in a way you don’t remember the horrible stuff, do you? It’s memories I suppose and even if not nice things happen, they’re still happy memories for you… I can remember when Chris Harrison broke his leg. Me and my dad were in the box. He was announcing. I used to hate that box in the old Craven Park, you know, the one that dangled from the ceiling. It used to feel as though it was going to fall through the floor at any moment. I remember my dad sort of hiding his eyes, because he hates anything like that. All of a sudden you could hear this crunch, because it was an A-team game so there weren’t many people there. I remember hanging out the window cos I love anything like that and me dad’s like, “Ooh, can’t watch, can’t watch”. Another happy memory involves going to Crimliss’  for chips and scraps at half time. So, I’d run. You’ve to run out and the gates were always open after half time, so you didn’t have to pay to get back in. I had 10 minutes to get to Crimliss’ and back with my chips.

Happy times! We used to spend a lot of time after the game, Friday night games, A-team matches, in the club, so I met a lot of people there. I always say I never had the urge, I don’t think, to do that going around town business when I was 18, cos I’d grown up more or less living in the club anyway. We got to know Chris Park quite well, because he used to come in as well. He interviewed me, actually, when we first came to this ground. On our first game he came and said, “Can I interview you? I need some people to interview”. Then I said the stupidest thing ever on the radio – I am still so embarrassed about it 30 years later. So, he asked me what I thought of the ground, and it was the time when Lenny Henry was about, and I said, ooh, it’s spondicious. Afterwards, I was just like, “Why did I say that?” How stupid did I sound? And my brother had actually set up – I don’t know if you remember, but we had the electronic scoreboard when we first came here. My brother actually set that up and did all the programming for it and he used to do it for first team matches and I used to do it for A team matches. My dad was still announcing at that point and he asked me what my favourite part of the ground was, and Jonathan was there going, “Say the scoreboard, say the scoreboard!”. And I didn’t. I just said the back of the stand with the words on… It’s pathetic, but my mind just went blank.

[How old would you have been?]

I was about 16 or 17 I think when we moved there. What was it, 89 when we moved? That was one of the last times, around that time, when I was ever mistaken for being a boy. I’ve always had short hair and being quite small, my mum’s always dressed me in trousers from being little and I’ve carried on. With going to rugby matches, people just used to assume… I used to hate going to Elland Road. So, whenever we’d get Elland Road for any semi-finals or whatever, I’d hate going, cos it always said “Boys”, it never said “Girls” or “Children”, it just said Boys. I was always indignant – where do I go? So even then, I was a bit outspoken… Anyway I was coming in, I think it was an A-team match one night, and I was actually meeting my boyfriend afterwards, and I got a “Oh thanks, sonny”. And I was just like, great. I suppose it’s one of the pitfalls of liking a ‘man’s sport’, isn’t it?

[Did you ever want to play?]

Yes. And I did play for a little bit. Somebody came to 6th form, so it was just as the sixth form colleges had started – I think they were in their second year when I went. And somebody came and sort of started up a girls’ rugby team. But it didn’t go very far, because I think I was the only girl who actually knew anything about rugby, so they used to put me at hooker all the time, because obviously then, or acting half, because I actually knew what to do. And it didn’t sort of get off the ground at all – finding girls who were interested, because it was something girls had never done, was difficult. When I went to university, someone started up a girls’ team, but he wanted to play rugby union. I used to argue all the time with him, that actually that was more complicated and he should teach them to play rugby league. It’s easy to follow – you get tackled, you get up, you play the ball, you go again. It’s a lot more straightforward to follow those rules when you introduce it. But again, we didn’t get very far. Finding girls who wanted to was hard.

[What university was that?]

I went to Scarborough Teacher training college, so it was up there. And we had a year in Leeds, which you would have thought would have been a bit more easy, but my time was taken up with other sports. I played netball and table tennis and hockey and tennis, so there were other things that I was doing. I don’t even think that there was a girls’ team. Leeds University, yes. That’s who we were affiliated to. Scarborough, at the time, where now it’s Coventry, I think. CU – Whoever sponsors the announcing here.

So, I would have liked to have played rugby. I wanted to be a physio, that was… I think it was just the time when there was the first lady physios coming out in the world of rugby and it was something I wanted to do. The only time I have ever been to the Boulevard was for a bit of a physio conference. I went with a guy who ran an amateur team and it was a meeting for the amateur clubs and it was for the physios and things and he took me along because I was interested. That’s the only time I ever went to the Boulevard.

[You never went to any derbies?]

No, no, I would never go away. I think that comes from my mum. My mum would never go. We went to a lot of away matches. When I was very young, apparently, I used to go up and down the bus, singing to people on the way to away matches. I don’t remember any of this, but that’s what my mum and dad tell me. Apparently, I was a bit of a character. We then went to the odd away match. As I say, I’ve never been to Blackpool apart from to watch the rugby, so I remember going to Blackpool one year (someone had written HULL KR in the sand really large). And we went up to Barrow when we were in the league, and we went to the Isle of Man when we were in the Isle of Man. I think we did more when I was very young. I don’t know why we stopped going.

[It was derbies particularly?]

Yes. I said my mum wouldn’t go and we still don’t. She was, “I’m not giving them my money”. So, it was basically that. So, I have never been to an away derby match, ever. Unless they were not at Hull’s ground.

[How do you find the home derby matches?]

I hate them. Hate them. Can’t stand them. Really don’t like them. I’m so glad I don’t live in Hull any more. You can sort of take yourself out of it a bit. When I lived in Hull, I hated it even more than I do now.  Bragging rights and everything. I will say we’re very lucky in our family – we don’t actually have any cross-overs. We’re all Rovers supporters, so we don’t have to live with anyone being supercilious when Hull win. I did go to school with a few Hull supporters, even though I lived in East Hull, though one of them since has changed allegiance. (I think it’s because he married a member of Chris Charles’s family when Chris played for us. I think that’s why he started coming.) He used to sit near me when we were about 30. It was like, “David McGowen, you used to be a Hull supporter!”. But I don’t like them. I didn’t come to the last one. Partly because it was on a Thursday night, and living 60 miles away and working until 6 o’clock, it’s a bit difficult. But I really don’t like them at all.

[What don’t you like about them?]

It’s the pressure – before the game, during the game and after the game. I feel as if we all hold our breath for that week – that’s how the pressure builds. If you win, it’s fine, you can breathe out again. If you lose, it’s horrid. It really is not nice. And you feel so bad about it and you know, they’re there and you have to put up with them, singing at you and chanting at you and smirking at you. Not my favourite thing at all. I’ll lose to any other team. Can’t stand losing to Hull.

[Tell us a bit more about your work]

Well, obviously, being a teacher, you are in a bit of a position where you can try and influence the people around you. I am a Primary school teacher. At the beginning of my career, I suppose there weren’t loads of rugby opportunities. I used to run a lot of football teams, actually, when I first started teaching, just because that was where the school was. I thought there would be more rugby involved, working in Doncaster. They had a professional team, they had programmes about them, you know, they were pretty famous, but Doncaster is a weird, weird place and children are not particularly sporty. So where, if you’re thinking Hull, kids grow up and they’ll play a lot of rugby league, you know, when they’re young, or football. There’s loads of sport going on. Doncaster’s really not like that. There’s quite a lot of football teams. That’s about it. A few cricket club teams around. So, I used to, when I started teaching, do other things. I got older, more experienced, more outspoken, more influential and started to push a bit more. I moved to a school in Bentley, which of course is where Doncaster’s ground used to be. So, there was a lot of residual supporters in the area. A lot of them didn’t go up to the new place and definitely when they moved to The Keep Moat, didn’t go, but you met a lot of people who’d say, “I used to go when they played here”. So, there was a lot of children with family ties to rugby, so that’s when I thought, right, this is going to be the place where if I’m going to try and establish something, this is it. Also there are still some amateur teams in Bentley and there’s Toll Bar, which of course is quite a famous one, just up the road. Doncaster used to come actually and do a bit of training with the kids and we used to have a tag rugby festival every year. And that’s how I got really involved in doing a little bit more, mainly through Ray Green, who’s a lovely, lovely man. Peter (his son) was playing for Doncaster at the time and he used to come and do our training. He was lovely too. I think he used to enjoy coming to a school with someone who knew about rugby. I remember one day, walking in, and he had a dustpan and brush in his hand. And I’m like, “Pete, what are you doing?” And he went, “Well, the kids have made a mess with the hamster so I’m just cleaning it up”. I was like, “You are not… You’re here to play rugby, you’re not here to do…” “Well, it don’t matter, does it?”. And he was that type of guy. He was really nice and good with the kids too.

So, I sort of got going through that, and then Ray asked me to write a heritage programme. He wanted to try and get more children involved in rugby and he wanted them to know about their club. I’d previously written a bit of a heritage thing for Brodsworth Hall, so I was quite up for it. Therefore, I wrote, it was a six-lesson project, going through different bits to do with Doncaster rugby league. I don’t know what happened to it, I don’t know if they’ve still got it, I don’t know if they use it, because not long after that… I don’t know how Ray left, but he sort of… Things happen don’t they? But through that, Ray arranged for a treat – Robbie Paul came to our school. He taught my class the haka and we had a lovely day with Robbie. So that was my pay-off, if you like, for doing that. Which was great. Robbie was lovely, I had a really nice chat with him about rugby. Again, he was… I suppose people like Ray and Pete and Robbie, who I met, it wasn’t a… As soon as they start talking to you and they realise that you are actually a rugby fan, their opinion of you changes a little bit and they actually then start talking to you. Robbie was lovely. We had a right good chat about the state of rugby league and things that happen that are wrong, and stuff and he had, I mean I don’t know whether he still voices his opinions quite as loudly as maybe he should? He had some very firm views. And of course, all the other women, all the other staff in the staffroom were like, oohhh, but couldn’t talk to him, because they didn’t really know anything about it. Whenever I’ve had a rugby player in – you know, George Milton came to my last school – how come they spend all their time with you? How do you get all the nice-looking blokes? I’m like, it’s got nothing to do with the fact I’m hogging the nice-looking blokes, it’s because I can talk to them about something they’re interested in.

So, we had Robbie. And then, oh, we had Paul Cook of course. He was in charge of Doncaster for a while. He used to come and do some rugby training for me. Not my favourite person. He used to make a lot of jokes about Rovers and was not very complimentary at all and he was a bit up himself to be quite honest. He wasn’t one of my favourites. When they were talking about him maybe coming back – there were some rumours, weren’t there? I’m like I blooming hope not. He wasn’t a nice open man and he also didn’t connect with the kids as well. Pete was lovely with the kids, and they loved working with him. Whereas Paul, it was like this is a job I’ve got to do so I’m just doing it. Not that I’m trying to get some kids really interested. Which is unfortunate, because there were some really good kids, and I have had one success story I suppose – he still plays now as an adult. He plays for Toll Bar. His dad doesn’t talk to me because he was a footballer when I met him and now, he plays rugby. And he went on to rugby quite quickly. I brought him to a couple of matches with me. I mean, he was a pupil of mine, but his mum worked with us. So, I managed to get him and hold him. But it was quite difficult, I would say, to get kids, especially if parents weren’t on board. I had one kid called Jordan – you’ve never seen a hip swivel like it – he would have made a wonderful second row. He could move his hip, he could just flick his hip out the way if someone was trying to tag him but keep going with speed.  He just had that ability. And he was hard as nails. He wouldn’t have cared if he’d have got battered – in fact he’d have loved it. He went up to Toll Bar a few times, but when you haven’t got that background and parents pushing him, I think he then fell off and stopped going. But I have sent a few kids, tried to get a few kids involved. Dom’s sort of my woo-hoo.

Then after Ray and Pete, that was when I got to know Gareth Cook, who now is at Leeds. Gareth and I ended up going to China together with a party of teachers. We went to show schools over there how we taught PE (and they showed us how they do it). Gareth tried to teach the Chinese kids how to play rugby, which was… I don’t know – hard. He wasn’t with me but he told me his stories. Finding a space was a real challenge apparently but at least our great game has seen the light of day in China. (I actually did cricket with my kids. Don’t ask me why!)

That was 2014 when we went to China. I got to know Gareth really well through that and because of that we ended up with probably my crowning glory I suppose of being a teacher. It was when the New Zealanders came for the World Cup and they were based in Doncaster. My school was used when they came to meet a load of children and do a training session. Half the team went out and did sort of drills with the kids and stuff and the other half did a question and answer session. This was Bentley High Street, where I was based. And if you like, that was, all this hard work I’ve done, and this is what I get as a reward. It was a brilliant, brilliant day. I’ve got a photo of me with the New Zealand team at my school. I have a New Zealand shirt, cos Gary Prohm is my absolute hero, so I have a New Zealand shirt with Prohm on the back, which of course I wore. And that bit there, so that’s got all their signatures on,  – all the schools that came had their picture done, so each school got their picture in there and then I sent them off to them. So, I suppose it was again – you have to organise it, make sure it runs well and things like, but it got done. I remember Sean Johnson fancied my student and didn’t know who Gary Prohm was – not impressive. The team were absolutely fascinated by the fact that our children respond to the – you know the clap and respond where you clap and then they clap back at you? They loved that. So, every five minutes, while we were having assembly, one of them would just start clapping, because they thought it was hilarious. That was a really good day.

After that we also did, through Gareth, we went to Blackpool to dance at the Summer Bash. So that’s one of the T shirts that we had from the summer bash. But again, trying to get girls a little bit more interested, so going, watching a bit of rugby, doing our dance, I took them for fish and chips and rock and made a really nice day going to Blackpool. The only reason I ever go to Blackpool is to watch rugby. Because he knew it would get good done, I think, Gareth, he used to use us a lot for that sort of thing.

[And did you used to coach the kids?]

I have done a little bit. Not as much as I would have liked. Just because there are actually no… So, we used to have tag rugby tournaments, so I’d coach them through that. I used to do after school clubs and things like that for them, but there was nowhere else to go and there was no league to play in and I suppose maybe I could have pushed a bit harder for that, to try and make it happen, but as I said earlier, they’re a bit apathetic in Doncaster. They’ll go out for a horse race and stuff but rugby – no. I used to take the kids at least once a year to a game. When the World Cup came, we went to Craven Park to watch Papua New Guinea, so I brought a load of kids over to watch a game. I’d try and get them involved in whichever way I could, but even just supporting, coming and watching the game and trying to get them hooked in that way, and I always used to have – you know, make sure parents were invited, because again, when the kids are very little, if parents won’t take them, they’ve got no chance. If anything, it’s trying to hook the parents more than anything else. We did have quite a lot go to Blackpool. I don’t know if any of them started following rugby. And now I’ve moved to an area where they don’t play rugby. I’m now working in Nottinghamshire. I supposed they’ve dabbled, haven’t they, in the past, with rugby league. And they still have an amateur team and actually, they’ve just set up, I think they’re called Bassetlaw Bulldogs? And I know they’ve got ties with Wakefield, I think. But they have not been in touch with school at all. And I keep meaning to get in touch with them and I haven’t – you know, life takes over. They’ve not promoted themselves very well, I would say, in the area.

[Is it a youngsters’ team?]

Yes. So, you would have thought they’d try coming to school, or at least send some flyers out. But I have got on to – so we have our sports coordinator for Bassett Law area, and I’ve been in touch with her, because apparently there’s another rugby league fan somewhere in my area. So, she’s “Oh, maybe that’s something we can get on with?”. I’m like yes, let’s get on with that. Cos when we play now, it really grates me, we have to play rugby union tag rugby. It really annoys me. I can’t… The rules are so airy-fairy, I don’t like it at all. And the other thing with where we were in Doncaster, you were not allowed to do any contact rugby, and that’s what the kids wanted. I think they’d have had a much better uptake of rugby league if they’d have let the kids play some contact rugby in schools, because actually that’s what they wanted to do. I used to do a little bit of it in after school club, I used to teach them how to tackle a bit, because that’s the fun bit. Taking someone to the floor, having a bit of a wrestle, jumping on someone, that’s the bit the kids really like. I have argued til I am blue in the face over it. I suppose with a lot of people, including Gareth, Ray and everybody else that I’ve come into contact with there. I learnt how to tackle when I was 16, when I started to play, and it blooming hurts. Taking down a five-foot-odd person to the floor hurts. When you’re seven, it’s just how you play. So actually, learning how to tackle properly when you’re little doesn’t hurt, it’s what you do, it’s what you like – let’s all pile on. My mum worked in a school and her head used to let them start rugby on their 7th birthday. They used to play contact. They never had any problems, because it was easy, because you’re this big. So, I do have a bit of an issue with how we try and get kids involved in that way. So, for 20 years I’ve been arguing about it and I don’t seem to get anywhere.

[Do you still come along to the heritage evenings?]

I do. I find it difficult during term times, obviously, living in Doncaster it’s a bit of a trek, but I do try and come during school holidays, so if they fall in the holidays I tend to try and come.

[And you still come to all the games?]

Yeah, I am a season ticket holder. My husband, Simon, is also.

[Is your husband also a fan?]

He wasn’t when I met him. Well, he wasn’t a full-on one. He’d watch the odd game. He was actually a Sheffield Wednesday season ticket holder when I met him and now, he’s a Rovers season ticket holder. He’s probably worse than the rest of us now.

[And do you still sit in the posh seats?]

Well, we’ve moved into the North Stand, actually. We had a bit of an issue so we have moved around a bit. When we were rubbish, we sat in the posh seats, sort of up there (in the middle of the West Stand. Then, when we were aiming for going into Super League, they took our seats off us. They were the best seats in the house, and they wanted them for the directors and the away directors. So out of protest, we actually came out of our seats for a while. We stood in the East Stand for a bit and then ended up in the Well. We stood in the Well for a good maybe 10 years, actually. My mum and dad still had their seats, but my mum used to like standing with us. They started sitting again when we went into Super League, but we (Simon and I) stayed in the Well. A few years ago we moved out of the Well, I think this is our third season now, into the North Stand. Unfortunately, I know it’s not nice to say, but we moved because of supporters, actually. Swearing, not being nice, my mum was threatened. This bloke threatened to hit her. And it’s like, do you feel big threatening to hit an old lady? Just cos she’d asked you not to say the C word? And in the end, it was just, I felt, well I think it was Simon especially felt that – he was going to have to pull me off someone at some point. It annoys me that people show such a bad side to themselves especially in front of children. I suppose it’s partly because of what I do. You know, I’m not saying I don’t swear, because I do, but there are times and there are places and in front of a load of kids, watching a game of rugby, is not the time to show that face for me.  There was a particular group who just, oh, every other word. I’d have been rich if I’d got a £ for every time they said the F word. And they were just nasty. And if you said anything to them, they were just nasty. You know, if you asked them nicely to just keep it down a bit, they were just not pleasant people. So, we decided to move to the family stand. Where you don’t get that, so it’s quite nice up there.

[Living your days out there…]

Living our days out there, yeah I suppose – who knows. We go in the Legends lounge as well, but I only use it, I think, for the hot chocolate – The queue is a lot shorter. Well, living quite a way away we thought it’d be useful to use, in case we wanted meals and stuff, cos you know, Friday night games are hard to get here for.

[Break in recording]

So, this was when were going bust. We did a march from the old Craven Park to the new, one day before a game. And that was me, so that was my number. We did the David Watkinson five K run, sponsorship for him as well. I don’t know what I’ve done with that T shirt, cos if you raised so much money, you got a David Watkinson T shirt. I’ve got that somewhere, I think.

Now this is something again. When I went to university, when I was training to be a teacher, we learned about different media and things, you know, for putting up displays and what not. And you can see it’s a bit of the worse for wear now. So, I decided that I would do mine on rugby. We had to produce something using different media. It’s one of the few things I got a First in. We had to make the book. Obviously, I thought of writing about rugby using different medium and stuff. I did a bit of the history of rugby and stuff. So, you can see what era it was, because we had a Nottingham at the time, a Nottingham City, and we still had Highfield and Chorley and teams like that. And at the time, there was a Scarborough. We had a Scarborough when I was at Scarborough, so we used to go and watch Scarborough, so at that point… Then I did a bit about the world. I did this, what would this be? Christmas of ’91.

[Gary Prohm!]

Yeah. My ultimate favourite ever. I have a little Rovers corner up in my classroom and his signed picture is there (along with Clint Newton). One of the things the kids always know about me is my love of rugby – when I left Bentley High Street, I got cards and stuff off the kids and nearly everyone had something to do with rugby on it. Some of them had Rufus on. One of them had me being Rufus – my head on Rufus’s body – funny. The kids always know, Friday nights are beer, takeaway and rugby for Mrs Throssell. It’s something I do talk about a lot with the kids. You know, just find something that you’re passionate about in your life and share that with them.

So, I like doing a bit of cross stitch and who better to cross stitch than Gary scoring a try. My brother tells me it is from a game at Halifax – don’t ask me how he knows.

And I did a bit of a montage. I used to have these up in my bedroom. I had a couple of cork boards up in my bedroom and when there were some decent photos in Hull Daily Mail or whatever, I used to cut them out and I had like this big montage of photos of, well, Rovers players in particular, I would have thought. Quite a lot of Zook Emma. I liked a bit of Zook Emma as well.

And I did a bit about Rovers. Look, there are my badges from Wembley. And that was 86 Wembley. I saw them win the plate in 97. I went in 81, I went in 86, I went in 2015.

This is something I used to like to do – I’m such a nerd. This is something I’ve not talked about. When video cameras were first came on to the scene and were used in rugby, I used to do the tackle counts for them. My dad did a lot of the filming for the A team matches. Kelly Hanneth did the first team and then he didn’t used to go to the A team, so my dad did that. I remember running up and down the park, filming Colts, so I helped by doing that. But we used to take the video and then do a bit of analysis. This was me being Opta before Opta was invented. So, I used to do a good old tackle count and stuff. There you go! Penalty count, scrum count – so I used to sit and do that. Sad, I know. We must have beaten St Helens that day – I wouldn’t have done it when we lost, only when we won. Yeah, 24-14. Paul Speckman – he used to live near me. My mum knew his mum.

And then I wrote a poem. I wrote a poem to go with it about rugby.

[That’s brilliant]

I got a first for that – one of the few things I got a first for. On the back page I put what teams all the shirts were. Obviously, Hull’s on the back cover and a lot of the ones on the front have fallen off. So, I numbered all the shirts and then, they were the shirts they were playing in that season. I spent all of my Christmas holiday doing that.

[I bet it was a labour of love]

It was. And as my mum says, I am a bit of faffer, I like doing stuff. I think everybody else, they got back to Uni that Sunday night, and they were like, “Oh, I’ve not done that”. And I had this beautifully presented thing. I think it was just she’d put something about how it was obviously something I’d been passionate about. ICE – integrated curriculum experience – whatever it was called. I enjoyed doing that.

One of the biggest highlights, being a big Gary Prom fan, was when we went to the Isle of Man. Even though we were absolutely whupped in the game by Wigan and we had a horrible time and our hotel was horrid – we ended up moving, actually – mum wouldn’t stay there a second night. On the way over on the ferry, we were actually on the ferry with the Rovers team. And my dad, knowing people, he knew Jack who was the kit man and stuff. He came and sat with us and then Ian Robinson and Gary Prom came and sat with us. And me and my mum were playing cards and then Gary Prom said to me, “Can I play?”. So, I sat and played cards on the way to the Isle of Man with Gary Prom, which was just magic…

[And how old were you?]

So that was 85 wasn’t it, so I’d have been 13, no 12. I don’t think I concentrated on playing cards, because I was sat playing cards with Gary Prom and it was just a dream come true. Half the team was throwing up overboard, I think, but him and Ian were alright. I think I just smiled for the rest of the weekend, because that was just wonderful. I think that was when… Even though he was an amazing player to me, even before that, that was the moment when I really sort of – he was god to me from then on! And still is.

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Gwen Whiteley

Gwen started coming to Mount Pleasant with her Mum when she was just 4 years...