Kitty Thorne turns 100We are delighted to welcome a very special guest to this afternoon’s game.
Kitty Thorne has featured in the matchday programme which was before her 90th birthday ten years ago. On January 2nd this year Kitty celebrated her 100th birthday and she is here this afternoon with family and friends, hoping to see a Rovers victory.
It’s more than 60 years since she first came to a Rovers match (23rd October 1954), accompanied by her husband and ten year old son, and saw Rovers beat Leeds United 5-1 in front of a crowd of 24,000.
She was so impressed by the team, and Geoff Bradford in particular, that she became a Rovers supporter from that moment on.
In those first years of following the club she would catch the lunchtime train from her home in Trowbridge and travel to Stapleton Road Station, just a few hundred yards from Eastville Stadium.
There are, of course, many memories from her time watching the club but the visit of Manchester United, in the League Cup in 1972, when over 33,000 in attendance was a particular highlight. She felt unwell soon after kick off and was escorted, by police officers, to the bench where the St John Ambulance volunteers were sitting and was able to watch the rest of the match from there; ‘the best seat in the ground’ she says.
Kitty later became a season ticket holder in the South Stand and when Rovers moved to the Memorial Stadium she sat in what we now call the East Stand before moving over to the West Stand where she continued to watch matches with her son and daughter in law.
This afternoon they will join her and her other guests in Executive Boxes 17 & 18 and, on behalf of the Board of Directors, Barry Bradshaw will be marking the occasion with a presentation to Kitty at half time.
Kitty was born into a world dominated by the First World War; King George V was on the throne, Herbert Asquith was Prime Minister, but football continued to be played for the 1914/15 season and Southern League Bristol Rovers lost 1-0 at Crystal Palace the day before Kitty was born.
At the time she saw Rovers in action, Queen Elizabeth II was in the early days of her reign, Winston Churchill was Prime Minister and Second Division Rovers recorded a 1-0 win at Derby on her 49th birthday.
This year, with Queen Elizabeth still on the throne and David Cameron Prime Minister, Vanarama Conference side Bristol Rovers drew 1-1 with Torquay United the day before Kitty celebrated her centenary.
Kitty, everyone at Bristol Rovers and, I’m sure, everyone at the game wishes you a very Happy (if somewhat belated) 100th Birthday and we hope you enjoy your very special day with us.