It is with great sadness that we let you know about the passing of Tony Smith.
Never one to shout about the hours, days and years spent supporting the women and girls of Manchester Rugby Club, Tony Smith has been a quiet and humble driving force behind the success of our junior and senior teams.
Over 15 years ago when Amber began her rugby journey as one of the founding members of the Manchester girls’ squad, Tony probably didn’t know what he was in for. He could not have known that within weeks he’d be ferrying a car full of muddy, noisy teenage girls up and down the country each weekend. He probably didn’t expect to be writing detailed match reports late on a Sunday night, ready to send out to the team’s supporters and the local newspapers the next day. He couldn’t have predicted that within months he’d be managing the team: organising game days and referees; ordering kit; ensuring that our players were nominated and ready for county and regional trials; even making sure our social calendar was full.
Whenever the opportunity to support Amber and her team arose, Tony was the first one there and the last one to leave. He is remembered with great affection by all of the players and coaches he worked tirelessly to help.
When Amber moved up from the girl’s section to play for the women’s first XV in 2012; Tony dutifully followed, eventually becoming our team manager for a number of years. His support on an often freezing cold muddy sideline was unfaltering; and many a try has been scored, and games won, from his cheering of “back yourself, BACK YOURSELF” as a player streaked away from the opposition defence.
Over the years, the women’s team have travelled far and wide, from Carlisle to Sunderland, with Tony being the first to take his seat at the front of the bus – who knows what conversations he heard during those long bus journeys!
To say that Tony has been the womens’ number one supporter over the last 11 years does not do him justice – he was always our biggest advocate within the club and beyond. Without a doubt, the team would not be where we are today without him. Tony will be deeply missed by all at Manchester Womens’ Rugby, and our thoughts are with Amber and family at this difficult time.