West Yorkshire League: Ripon City chairwoman steps away from football after 47 years battling prejudice

Sue Dennison with her invitation to go to Buckingham Palace in 2013
Sue Dennison with her invitation to go to Buckingham Palace in 2013

Ripon City chairwoman Sue Dennison has decided to step away from football after almost 50 years of involvement in the game.

The grassroots heroine wants to pursue other interests after a lifetime of commitment to the sport in the city.

Dennison’s husband Rob, club secretary Andrew Young and fellow committee members Paul Brown and Loz Ayton have also stood down from their roles.

The struggling Mallorie Park club is now set for a major reshuffle and has been placed in the hands of assistant manager Dan Metcalfe, who will form a new committee.

Dennison said: “The work load is quite heavy and I have got other interests that I want to pursue,” she said.

“All of us that are finishing have been on the journey and I thank them for sticking with it in the same way that I did.

“Now I feel like a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I can leave knowing I have done my best and I’ve given everything that I could have given. We wish the new regime well. They have a very hard task in front of them.”

Dennison was one the first female chairman in English football and has lead the fight for woman against prejudice in the sport.

Her involvement in football in the city began at Ripon Red Arrows in 1968 before founding the Yorkshire Magnets Sunday team with husband Rob in 1971.

Since amalgamating with Ripon City in 1990, Mrs Dennison has held every responsibility at the club – from washing kits to refereeing.

In 2013, the 67-year-old’s commitment to the grassroots game was rewarded with a visit to Buckingham Palace where she received an award from Prince William.

McDonalds also recognised her career and welcomed her as a VIP to Wembley. And she has also forged a friendship with Jack Charlton and attended training sessions with Geoff Hurst.

Dennison added: “One of the main highlights is just to have provided football for so many people, because that’s what it’s all about.

“We have lost many friends along the way, sometimes in tragic circumstances, but you help each other through it and that’s one of the best parts of being involved.”

She said her biggest achievement was “surviving in a man’s world for so long”.

Dennison said: “When I started in the 1960s there was a lot of prejudice. It just wasn’t the done thing.

“It’s not always been plain sailing. There’s been a lot of difficult times but somebody has to put their head above the parapet and that had to be me.

“The club is 118 years old. I am pleased I have kept it going in what has sometimes been trying circumstances.”

City have endured a turbulent 18 months in the West Yorkshire League but Dennison said results were not behind her decision to quit.

The club was relegated from the Premier Division at the end of last season and are fighting to beat the drop in Division One after a poor start to the new campaign.

City were also forced to withdraw their reserve team from Alliance Division One due to a lack of players.

Dennison, who also thanked Kev Ward and Ian Ord for past services to the club. added: “The results aren’t an issue with the decision.

“I had my leaving do five years ago but we didn’t feel confident that we could leave.

“You can go on saying that for a lot of years and there comes a time when you have to make the decision to do it and pursue you own life.”