Joyce Pilkington had the welfare of Oldham Rugby in mind right to the end.
Following her funeral service at Oldham Crematorium on Tuesday, August 20, there was a retiring collection to be split between ORSA (Oldham Roughyeds’ Supporters Association) and the RSPCA.
And in a moving eulogy the Rev Gary Ridley, a Methodist Minister, said: “Joyce was more than a fan; she had a real passion for the club to which she devoted much of her life.”
She died, aged 82, in the Royal Oldham Hospital after serving as a match-day volunteer (selling Golden Gamble tickets and looking after stand transfers) until a few months before her death.
When the time came to hand over to somebody else, her daughter Lynn took over.
Joyce’s beloved red and white scarf, which she wore at every match and every Roughyeds occasion, was on the coffin and floral tributes were in the club colours, red and white.
Fans in club replica shirts were among those in attendance to pay their last respects to Joyce, whose love affair with Oldham Rugby spanned a lifetime and whose late husband, Donald, was chairman of the Supporters’ Club back in Watersheddings days.
Shane Tupaea was there to represent the playing staff from back then, while Trevor Heywood, an official of the old Supporters Club before, during and after Joyce’s late husband’s chairmanship was also present.
Also paying respects were Oldham RLFC chairman Chris Hamilton; the club’s media manager Roger Halstead; Sue and Mike Kivlin, representing the Rugby Oldham Supporters’ Trust; Lynda and John McAndrew representing ORSA, of which John is chairman; and a representative of the Lancashire Federation of Supporters’ Clubs.
The traditional rugby league hymn, “Abide With Me”, always a feature of Challenge Cup finals at Wembley, as it will be again this Saturday before the St Helens v Warrington Wolves final, was the music on both entrance to and departure from the Crematorium.