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By Gemma Birbeck
14th November 2018
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Julie Walker (nee Boyle)

As we approach our 50th Anniversary, our thought's have been focused on where it all began.

We decided to catch up with those who were associated with the club prior to and during its founding.

This week we interviewed Julie Walker (nee Boyle) who attended Aireborough Grammar School between 1970 and 1977, and is now living in South Africa with her husband Cleve Walker- a past Airebronians player.

Her brother Kevin Boyle also played for the Old Airebronians which meant she was often the sole supporter at matches, manning the line and running on to the pitch with the medical kit – a bucket of water and a sponge in those days!

Here's what memories Julie had to share.....

So you attended Aireborough Grammar School, how were you involved with the rugby team?

When Kevin returned to Guiseley from Nottingham University in 1977 he joined the Airebronians. I was often the sole supporter. The games were played on the school pitches in Nunroyd Park after the school games had already been played in the morning. The post-match prandials were at The Oddfellows (The Rag) in Yeadon and possibly at The Station Hotel at Henshaw before the clubhouse at Esholt was built.

What is your most treasured memory?

In March 1980 I met my husband Cleve Walker, formerly of Zimbabwe, when the team was going on tour to Scotland for the Calcutta Cup match. Cleve played for Airebronians because his cousin Richard Clapham was at AGS in the year below me. (Frankly, I had initial doubts about the strength of the gene pool at the time.) Everyone was meeting at the New Inn Guiseley and I had nipped home from Manchester Uni to celebrate my folks’ silver wedding. We were introduced because she’s going to South Africa and he’s from there. More or less. Aaah, 38 years together and still going.

And your funniest?

The characters included Graham Peel, who was often to be seen searching for his tooth among piles of vomit the next morning. GP knew that when he got home from rugby on a Saturday night, he had to complete three tasks before he could go to bed. Sure enough one night, he turned off the telly, the gas fire and the lights, and left his mum, dad and brother sitting in the cold, dark lounge….

And your worst?

Seeing Kev get concussed and stretchered off ( I think it was at Old Crossleyans) just as I was watching the 1980 Grand National on telly. I’d drawn the winner in a sweepstake and was cheering him home while trying to show concern about my brother. Kev had invited a guest for the weekend and it was then left to me to take him down Otley to get plastered at The Junction while Kev suffered (selfless I was…).
Apparently, after I left for South Africa in December 1980, scrummie Alan Wade’s line-out call to the hooker was “Julie Boyle’s gone to South Africa”. Not sure if the ball went south too…

What have you been up to since leaving the team?

All in Africa, including nine years in mining in the Republic Democratique du Congo. Very grateful that I learned French at school.

Is rugby still a big part of your life?

Our son played rugby at school in South Africa. What a contrast that experience is compared to the AGS matches of the 1970s. The school puts out four teams per age group, and the First XV match always starts at midday on a Saturday. It is a huge occasion. Both schools’ entire student bodies watch from one side, and all the parents from the other. I am talking a couple of thousand spectators. Both sets of supporters perform war-cries, and the biggest games are even televised. There are professional coaches and match officials, two doctors in attendance, plus a pair of St John’s Ambulance-trained schoolboys on each field. The pitches last several games because winter is the dry season.

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