Volunteer Rob Rowell helps keep Whitby Town's ground in top condition

A Whitby Town volunteer is keeping his love of the beautiful game going well into his 70s by doing every odd job going.

By Andy Bloomfield
Thursday, 9th June 2022, 2:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 9th June 2022, 2:03 pm
Whitby Town volunteer Rob Rowell, right
Whitby Town volunteer Rob Rowell, right

Rob Rowell started going to Whitby Albion Rangers aged 10 before the club folded a decade ago and after a few years without football, the 75-year-old relaunched his love of the game at Whitby Town.

Rowell was first convinced to go along to the Turnbull Ground by a neighbour and now finds himself at the ground five days a week.

“I had about three years without any football at all and then one of my neighbours said come and see Whitby play, I’d never thought about it and it all stemmed from there,” said Rowell, speaking during National Volunteers’ Week.

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“You get to know them and it just becomes part of what you do.

“We have a small gang of us, about five of us, who are more or less there every day.”

Rowell leads his group of volunteers to ensure that the ground is looking its very best, and does any job from fixing a leak to mending a fence, and in particular cleaning every seat to ensure it is free from what any seagulls leave behind.

For Rowell, it’s all about the pride of knowing that he’s done a good job to leave the ground looking smart.

“I basically do everything terrace side – I don’t do anything on the pitch, I don’t want anything to do with that!” added Rowell.

“Perimeters, walkways, lines, walls, fences – whatever. I just get on with it.

“We have a big stand behind the goal. I painted it with the colours of Whitby Town and put a big flag in the middle and it’s been there ever since.

“It’s the satisfaction of knowing that you did that.”

The Seasiders finished seventh last season in the Pitching In Northern Premier League Premier Division where money is often tight, and Rowell knows just how important his voluntary work is at making sure money can be spent on players to keep the club competitive.

He is now helping the next generation of volunteers at Whitby through their partnership with local education provider Supporting Choice, who specialise in supporting 16-25-year-olds develop employability skills, and Northern Premier League partners Pitching In are also playing their part in a volunteer recruitment drive.

The newly-launched Pitching In Volunteer Hub allows supporters to find opportunities at their local club and Rowell hopes the new season will bring plenty of new faces into clubs up and down the country.

“We rely on volunteers for all the jobs,” said Rowell.

“I’m 75 now, I haven’t got the strength and vitality that I had years ago but I still go up there every day and plod through the jobs.”

Ladbrokes, with the support of its owner Entain, has launched a multi-million-pound investment programme, Pitching In, designed to support and promote grassroots sports.

For more details see: https://entaingroup.com/sustainability/pitching-in/