Rugby League clubs have been paying tribute to a community champion described as the “heartbeat” of a club in Salford.
Alfrieda Kindon, who has died aged 71, founded what is now Salford City Roosters in 1980.
Together with her husband Rod, she helped turn a derelict facility on Peel Green into a community hub, originally named Eccles Amateur Rugby League Club.
Since its inception, the side has welcomed thousands of youngsters through its doors and been a key link across amateur rugby league.
The club announced her death on social media late last night and tributes have been paid from across the amateur and professional game.
We are heartbroken to share the news that Alfrieda Kindon has passed away.
Anyone that met Al knows she was the heartbeat of our Club and we are struggling at the moment to find the words.
— SalfordCityRoosters (@SalfordRoosters) April 22, 2021
Blackbrook ARLFC in St Helens posted: “Really sad this morning on hearing such awful news. Alfrieda was a lovely lady.
“She will be a massive loss to her beloved club the RL community in the Salford area and the game in general. Sincere condolences go out to Rod and all her friends and family. RIP Alfrieda.”
Tatto Heath Crusaders chairman, Mike Denning posted: “Words fail me at this time. Lovely lady and the heartbeat of your club.
“Thoughts and prayers with Rod and the family at this time. Rest well Alfrieda from all your friends”.
Further tributes have come from Championship side, Sheffield Eagles; the chief executive of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, Jon Dutton; and BBC Radio Manchester’s Rugby League commentator, Trevor Hunt, describing her as the ‘voice of reason’, who was a wonderful woman and a stalwart for her club and for the National Conference League.
A formidable presence, such was Mrs Kindon’s impact that she was recognised at this year’s Spirit of Salford Community Awards in March.
Described by the awards as a mentor and role model, with a great track record of integrating vulnerable young people into the club community and the sport of Rugby League, Mrs Kindon was nominated as Salford’s Citizen of the Year and won the 2021 Volunteer of the Year Award.
— Salford City Council (@SalfordCouncil) March 4, 2021
Speaking to Salford Now upon her nomination in March, Roosters chairman and former player Chris Irwin could not speak highly enough of someone he saw as ‘an absolute saint’.
He said: “She was the lady behind the bar, the lady that served your food and she scared the living daylights out of me as a kid and she probably did into my early adulthood really!
“But she was somebody that holds respect within the community of the rugby club and she’s a very caring and very loving lady and a mother to a lot of the young players that come through at the club.”
The club has seen generations of players step through its doors and has teams starting at 5 years old all the way to senior level.
And as well as adding to the community, it has seen dozens of players reach the professional game.
Former international prop forward, Adrian Morley, first picked up a rugby ball under the watchful gaze of Kindon before going on to a stellar career at Leeds Rhinos, Sydney Roosters, Warrington Wolves and Salford Red Devils.
Hudderfield Giants coach, formerly of Salford Red Devils, Ian Watson and Weaste-born Nathan McAvoy also both crossed the white line for the first time, playing for the Eccles side, before signing for the Red Devils as players.
And ahead of their Super League match tonight against Leigh Centurions, the Red Devils have announaced a minute’s silence in honour of a woman credited with helping so many develop a love for the game.
The club were deeply upset to hear about the passing of @SalfordRoosters stalwart, Alfrieda Kindon, yesterday.
There will be a minute's silence before kick-off tonight, to pay respect to Alfrieda.
Our thoughts are with Alfrieda's family and friends at this sad time. https://t.co/f0zbP0auS2
— Salford Red Devils 👹 (@SalfordDevils) April 23, 2021
Chris Irwin had hoped that Mrs Kindon, who had been unwell for some time, could receive a ‘boost’ upon seeing the next stage of the club’s development, which is due to be unveiled in the autumn.
Delaying their 40th anniversary celebrations due to the pandemic, the Roosters plan to move into a new clubhouse. He took to Twitter this morning to express his sadness that Mrs Kindon would not be able to witness its completion.
He posted: “We’re all devastated – the club was Al’s baby and we were all her kids that she would fight tough (sic) and nail for.
“I’m gutted she won’t see the new clubhouse but her legacy will live their (sic) for years to come. X”
We paid our respects yesterday to the life of Alfrieda Kindon, the heartbeat of Salford City Roosters.
May she rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/6GoWfgfVBk
— Salford Red Devils 👹 (@SalfordDevils) April 24, 2021