Ripon City stalwart Sue ready for a Grassroots Heroes date with royalty

hsb  Ripon City AFC Chairman Sue Dennison with her invitation to Buckingham Palace.  (130921M2a)
hsb Ripon City AFC Chairman Sue Dennison with her invitation to Buckingham Palace. (130921M2a)

Sue Dennison is someone who has seen almost everything in football.

And now, after 45 years of service to the game, her efforts have been recognised by the Football Association for their 150th anniversary.

The Ripon City chairman will be one of 150 local football heroes to attend a special dinner at Buckingham Palace on October 7 alongside president of the FA, Prince William .

And Dennison said the invitation to attend the Grassroots Heroes Reception was unexpected.

She said: “I was very surprised. I knew it was the 150th anniversary but I didn’t know they were doing that for it.

“I have never been inside Buckingham Palace, I’ve been there and stood outside but never inside. Not even as a tourist.

“It should be a great day.

“It’s nice to be acknowledged for what you do. Not that you do it to be acknowledged.”

Dennison has worked in football at grassroots level since 1968.

Her connection to the sport started due to two football-obsessed boyfriends.

The latter would turn out to be future husband and Ripon City president Rob.

“I thought, if you can’t beat them, join them,” Sue said.

Dennison started her volunteering as secretary for Ripon Red Arrows until she moved to Yorkshire Magnets in the 1970’s.

Magnets then amalgamated with Ripon City in 1990 to form Ripon City Magnets.

In her own words she has had every job imaginable at a football club, from washing kits to refereeing.

“You see everything, you hear everything. I’ve heard all the excuses for not playing,” she said.

“I have watched players and now I am watching their sons and in some cases their grandsons are not too far off from playing.

“You do watch generations of families. It’s nice to see.”

But Sue’s journey in football has never been easy.

The rough ride of being a woman in football has driven her to work harder.

Her crusade to beat the male chauvinists have helped re-frame the inside workings of the game forever.

“When I started there were no women in football,” she said.

“I faced a lot of prejudices but I remained undeterred and battled on.

“I was very determined not to let that win. It’s there today to some extent, but it was very bad in the early days.

“I have never been one to shy away from the fight.”

Dennison’s son Darran is flying over from Milan to see her before her big day at the Palace. She said both her sons (Darran and Ripon resident Jason) were both immensely proud.

So too, is the club at which she has spent so many hours.

“Everybody that’s been coming into the club has been bowing and treating me like royalty,” she added.

“There’s a lot of mickey taking going on. But I give it out and now I am taking it.”

But Dennison’s tireless involvement can’t last forever, even if her banter with each generation of players can.

“I am now at an age where I want to ease down my responsibilities,” she said.

“It’s nice the recognition has come at the time I was thinking of powering it down.

“But as much as this is recognition for me, it’s also recognition for Ripon City as a club.”