IT IS the end of an era at Saddleworth Rangers where head chef Julie has hung up her apron.
For more than 20 years volunteer Julie, who lives at Scouthead, has been a big part of Rangers’ open age and juniors’ matchdays serving food and also doubling up as chief barmaid.
Retiring from Rangers also means it will be easier for her to travel to watch sons James and Joe when they are playing in Super League with Hull KR and Wigan.
Julie, 59, who works as a manager for Medina Dairies at their Rochdale depot, decided the time was right to step back and spend more time with her family, including caring for her 94-year-old mother, husband Keith and 15-month-old grand-daughter Ruby.
She admitted it was difficult juggling her numerous commitments as she worked nearly every Saturday and Sunday.
A tribute on Rangers’ social media read: “She has made a huge contribution to our club over the years, putting in many hours behind the scenes as well as serving some of her signature dishes to the open age and the juniors every week.”
And another club official added that clubs like Rangers would not exist but for the work of volunteers like Julie.
Julie was renowned for her culinary skills and her home-made curries, chillies, meat and potato and cheese and onion pies.
She also was renowned for the culinary delights served up in the tea hut, pie and peas along with soup from a huge pan and crusty bread.
It was through her rugby-playing sons James and Joe that Julie became involved at Rangers.
Julie had already a love of rugby as her father James Stevenson also played for Rangers.
She said: “Joe was aged four and James six and they are now aged 27 and 25 which shows how long I have been involved.
“My husband Keith coaches James at Rangers between the ages of eight and 16 and I used to take Joseph to his matches.”
Julie added she took pleasure from seeing the “little ones” progress saying look at her as a mother and grandmother like figure.
She admitted it is the juniors she’ll miss the most, saying: “I’ve always enjoyed seeing the kids with their little faces on.
“They always come running up and give me a hug and tell me if they had won or scored a try. It’s touching to know they thought so much of me.”
Julie added: “I’ve seen the players grow up since James and Joe were under-eights, right through and some of them are now married and back here with their own kids.
“I will really miss it, especially the little ones and these tots now.”
Club treasurer Karen Thompson paid tribute to Julie‘s sterling efforts, saying: “Julie and I have been together at this club for many years and she’s made a massive contribution to looking after our players from babies right up to open age.
“She’ll be hugely missed but we hope we will still see her as much as possible down at the club.”