Long term supporters will remember former Honorary Secretary Neil Robinson who sadly died recently on August 19th aged 70.
He led the Club on an unpaid basis during its darkest days prior to the takeover by the Brisbane Broncos. It is no exaggeration to say that there wouldn’t have been a club to take over without him
Neil Robinson had four passions in life; his long term partner Elaine, cricket, rugby league and his beloved Workington Town FC. He funded these by a career in the Police Force – initially in his home town of Workington before a transfer to the Met where he served at Bow Street Police Station, Harrow Road and Marylebone (there is no truth in the rumour that he also had an office at Lords!). This is where we met and with the benefit of social media, I am now in possession of dozens of stories about him from former coleagues which alas are not repeatable due to the statute of limitations but I will say he was ‘old school’ with the emphasis of firm but fair.
One story that sums up the man followed an internal complaint made against him for describing someone as ‘a good egg’ – with the wording of the complaint suggesting that this was a racial slur. At the Employment Tribunal, Neil’s defence consisted of a written statement of support from Sir Viv Richards and 8 other members of the West Indies touring party. The matter was dropped!
He also ran an annual Police cricket tour to Blackpool but again, those stories are best left for another day.
I know one of his proudest moments for our club followed the late postponement of a Challenge Cup tie due to a waterlogged pitch at Barnet Copthall. This happened around 9.30am but by 2.30pm the game kicked off – at Hendon FC. The whole fixture had been switched to a new ground within a couple of hours and not one fan missed the game – especially the large away travelling support who had inspired Neil’s actions. Those of you that know anything about event planning will appreciate the size of that achievement.
Being a proud Northerner, he was always going to struggle to adapt (or indeed want to adapt) to the new Australian administration and sadly for all, he was slowly lost to the Club soon after it became the Broncos.
Upon his retirement from the Police, Neil moved to Blackpool and before long he was back in the fold of the ‘Greatest game’ with a role initially as a referee’s assessor for the RFL before being invited to be a ‘Match Commissioner’ which not only involved assessing the match officials but also every aspect of the game including the staging of the game, the game itself and any incidents that needed dealing with post the game. This is the highest position at any senior rugby league fixture and he officiated at hundreds of games in this capacity.
Neil had been diagnosed with diabetes late in life and found it hard to adapt to the nutrition and lifestyle associated with it which in turn affected his blood pressure. Complications set in and during a short spell in intensive care, he suffered from multiple organ failure and a cancerous growth was detected that rapidly spread.
Neil leaves long term partner Elaine and a daughter.
He was my friend and a bloody good bloke
By Nigel Waters, former Commercial Manager at the club.