Club President Steve Lloyd is passionate about a range of subjects but few things more so than Doncaster Knights & his home County of Yorkshire.
Yorkshire Post Journalist, and Castle Park regular, Guy Williams interviewed Steve for The Yorkshire Post magazine to discuss our great County & find out his favourite Yorkshire things.
What’s your first Yorkshire memory?
I was born in the engineer’s house next to the pit gates of Kiveton Colliery, near Sheffield, where my father had taken up his first senior position as the mechanical engineer. He’d started as an apprentice fitter.
Both my grandfathers were Doncaster miners, so the coal mining life and community was in the blood.
My first memories were as a three or four year old playing in the field by the pit gate and sitting in the canteen with miners going on or off shift.
In later years, the house we lived in and the pit tip were perfectly visible from the M1 near Woodall Services. On the many times I drove on the M1 returning Yorkshire, the view of my place of birth evoked the feeling of being home.
What’s your favourite part of the county – and why?
I guess going into the Dales takes the prize. The towns, villages, views and beautiful countryside all produce a feeling of well-being and belonging. But we also love going to the Yorkshire Wolds and the Howardian Hills, places such as Castle Howard and Hovingham.
What’s your idea of a perfect day, or a perfect weekend, out in Yorkshire?
We are fortunate to have so many places to visit. It’s hard to choose, but I love the idea. An overnight stay in the Dales or the Wolds with good food, a log fire and a nice glass of something sounds perfect.
Do you have a favourite walk – or view?
In younger, fitter years, I did the Three Peaks Walk several times plus the White Rose Way –that’s 104 miles from Leeds to Scarborough. A rugby injury now restricts long walks but we love to saunter anywhere in the Yorkshire countryside with our two dogs.
Which Yorkshire sportsman, past or present, would you like to take for lunch?
I once played a round of celebrity/amateur golf with Lewis Jones, who was a great player in both Rugby Union and then Rugby League with Leeds. So Lewis is an honorary Yorkshireman. We chatted whenever we could, but Lewis’ straight game, with pipe in mouth, and my wayward hooks and slices took us in very different directions on each hole restricting conversation.
The schism between the two codes has now become history, so I would happily buy Lewis lunch to hear his tales and, hopefully, help me to improve the game I love.
Which Yorkshire stage or screen star, past or present, would you like to take for dinner?
In the late 1980s, I happened to be in the station buffet in Newcastle waiting for a train to Doncaster. On the table next to me sat Mr & Mrs Williams and their daughter, better known as Michael Williams, Judi Dench and their young daughter, Finty.
As I ate my lunch, I have to confess to earwigging their chat ranging from theatre work to family life.
I am a total fan of Judi, so I would love to take her out to dinner.
If you had to name your Yorkshire‘hidden gem’, what would it be?
There are so many hidden gems in Yorkshire making it extremely difficult to give them a rank. I’ve never found it which encourages me to keep on looking. In my student days, caving and potholing in the Pennines around Ingleborough, you came across many hidden gems.
If you could choose somewhere, or some object, from or in Yorkshireto own for a day, what would it be?
Probably the Yorkshire Wildlife Park near Doncaster. You can gain so much pleasure from getting close to animals in such a well maintained park. If I had the Wildlife Park for a day, I would encourage children and adults to come and see how the various parts of the animal world adapt and manage to thrive.
What do you think gives Yorkshireits unique identity?
It’s a combination of several things: visual beauty in all its forms and I include past and present industrial areas and then you’ve got Yorkshire people producing a certain style.Much humour has been derived from us. You just have to think of Monty Python’s Three Yorkshiremen sketch.The accent and phrases define us and we should be proud of it.
Do you follow sport in the county, and if so, what?
As all those who know me would reply – rugby and more rugby.
Doncaster Rugby Football Club is my second home and passion . We are now the top rugby union club in the county after 30 years of rising through the national leagues.
We haven’t forgotten our roots. With over 600 people playing rugby each week – from the four year old through to the 60+ year old – it’s a place to make friends from all walks of life.
Do you have a favourite restaurant, or pub?
As far south in Yorkshire as you can get, the China Rose in Bawtry is a particular favourite of our family and friends. Whether it is a table for two or 20, this Cantonese restaurant is one of the very best of its type.
Do you have a favourite food shop?
In recent years, because we’ve a home near Ripon, we’ve spent more time in Harrogate, and Weetons Food Hall, overlooking The Stray, is a favourite haunt.
How do you think that Yorkshire has changed, for better or for worse, in the time that you’ve known it?
After the fragmentation of the county into metropolitan boroughs in the mid-1970s and the abolition of the East Riding and then its rebirth, Yorkshire became seemingly quite disparate. In recent years, however, the identity of the whole county – embracing rural, urban and industrial communities -has re-emerged. We can be stronger for it.
The pride in being Yorkshire folk should be embraced, but not in a xenophobic way.
If you had to change one thing in, or about Yorkshire, what would that be?
Satisfying a desperate need for a rugby union team in the Premiership which is the aim of Doncaster Knights and in football, another side along with Sheffield United in the Premier League.
At least one top flight club in each of the above sports would be a stepping stone to bringing back pride and aspiration to so many youngsters.
Who is the Yorkshireperson that you most admire?
Di, my wife – she keeps my feet on the ground.
My Dad, Ken, who, after going into business in his mid-forties, showed me how to combine hard work, ambition and empathy for others to achieve a satisfying lifestyle. My Mum, Elsie, played a massive part in that too.
Has Yorkshireinfluenced your work?
Absolutely. I started my business providing education for young people with emotional and behaviour problems in Doncaster in 1975 with a close friend.
At Hesley Hall we were totally involved with significant numbers of staff – good, honest and hardworking Yorkshire folk.
I have retired now, but I still notice, in these oppressive viral times, that same staff culture has come through where we care with a passion for those less fortunate in life.
Name your favourite Yorkshirebook/author/artist/CD/performer.
David Hockney is a much celebrated Yorkshireman and, although my wife and I love art, I didn’t particularly like his work.
However, on a trip to London, a friend took us to the Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy and I really loved David’s pencil drawings. In in the unlikely event of ever possessing one, I would happily give it house room.
If a stranger to Yorkshire only had time to visit one place, it would be?
Without doubt, they should come to Castle Park, home of Doncaster Knights.
You will be guaranteed a big welcome. You’d watch some hard fought rugby and enjoy the famous Donny Knights’ Cow Pie.
The stranger will no longer be stranger and will surely long to return.