GWENDA Marshall has never played football and it is a long time since her sons, Richard and Phillip, needed to be taken to their games. Despite this, Gwenda continues to be a loyal and passionate supporter of Goonellabah Hornets FC.
There is hardly a Hornets premier game played where a distinctive pink or purple hat is not seen in the crowd, as Gwenda follows her beloved team.
Gwenda moved from Ballina when her sons were six and eight and got involved with Goonellabah as an enthusiastic parent, spending many hours in the canteen and helping with junior teams.
Life as a single mum raising two boys and working full time may not have been easy, but Gwenda recalls numerous stories about her life with a smile and without any hint of challenge. She currently works for Lismore Taxis as the office manager and I sense that her gentle manner would be a great asset amidst the hustle and bustle of that environment.
Things can get pretty testy around sporting fields as well and Gwenda said the one aspect of local football she does not like is the deterioration in behaviour and language.
"I just wish that players would not swear and be so aggressive," Gwenda says. "It is bad enough that the men act like they do, but it seems that there are more kids and women who also behave poorly and do not care who can hear them yelling and cursing. Sport should be fun and you need to show respect to others."
The one question I was reluctant to ask Gwenda was whether she gets as excited about a Goonellabah victory as the Hornet's undisputed number one supporter, Murray Barnes?
Gwenda smirked and said, "Nobody could ever be as excited as Murray."
The long awaited premiership win in 2011 was a special moment and Gwenda is quietly confident the team will go back to back. With her favourite player, goalie Brad Robertson (whom Gwenda describes as "brave, brilliant and dynamic") at the back and a team sitting near the top of the table, who could argue?
If the Hornets make the grand final again this year, perhaps coach Mark Ambler may invite Gwenda to address the players before the game. I am sure that they would be inspired by her presence.
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