MOST Hunslet supporters are used to seeing Jane and Fred Hopkins behind a bar – to be precise, the very busy bar in the Phoenix Lounge.

The Parksiders’ faithful will, though, now have to get accustomed the husband-and-wife team being in the main stand on match-days, shouting on their favourites and thinking of little else other than the fortunes of the team they have both supported for many a year.

For, after over a decade of unstinting service in the Phoenix, Jane and Fred have stepped down.

The last regular home fixture of the Betfred League 1 campaign (the 56-14 victory over London Skolars) was the day on which they hung up their optics.

As is often the case for anyone heavily involved in Rugby League the duo’s stint, which grew from what now amounts to some 40 years as Hunslet fans, happened almost by chance. Jane recalls: “My sister-in-law worked at Elland Road when Hunslet played there, on the catering side, and I went down initially just to help. One of the sponsors said we could watch a game from his private box – Fred, me, our daughter Sarah, who was a baby, and our two-year old son Mark – and we enjoyed it. So we carried on attending matches, paying at the turnstiles. My granddad used to watch Hunslet, back in the Parkside days, so it was a nice feeling carrying on the family tradition.”

Fast forward to December 2012, when there was a sea-change for Jane and Fred. She explains: “I became the Phoenix Bar manager, which is an employed role but, being a supporter, I also put in voluntary hours – Hunslet is a club run mainly by volunteers, after all – while Fred is always here helping out.

“It’s a labour of love and the best moment was when we beat Oldham in the Grand Final at Headingley in 2014. We’d booked a taxi, which didn’t come, so Fred and I, together with Mark and Sarah, went to the bus stop, aiming to get back to the South Leeds stadium to open up the bar. Luckily, our current finance director Phil Hodgson was driving past so I hopped in (he only had one seat spare) with no option other than to leave Fred and the family behind.

“That was an amazing night. The Phoenix Bar was absolutely jammed, you couldn’t get a rice paper between people and Peter Todd was particularly happy. And the worst day was when we had a wedding on. There had been a bust-up between the two families the previous day and only twelve people turned up. It was awful, even they didn’t stay long.”

The Hopkins were seen off in style at Hunslet’s end-of-season presentation night, when they were presented with an Outstanding Contribution award, and Jane concludes: “There were a few changes behind the scenes recently and we were happy to carry on supporting the club on match-days. This club means so much to both me and Fred and we’ll be shouting them on – hopefully in the Championship – next season and beyond.”