Loyal Leroy plays vital role in Jets success
WHEN the new-look Ipswich Jets return to the field for the 2016 Intrust Super Cup season, a familiar face will be waiting to welcome the new players.
For 30 years, Leroy Murray has been a steadfast Jets supporter.
Preparing for a new Jets season kicking off next month, he has shared plenty of ups and downs with his home team.
"I think I was nine or 10 when I started going to occasional games with the family and it grew from there," Murray said.
Last year Murray got engaged to his girlfriend of four years, Fiona Stilo, who has learned to live with his football passion.
"It's been a running joke at the club that I would get married at a game," he chuckled. "Fiona put the brakes on that one."
Murray works shifts at Woolworths but said he would be at the Jets pre-season training when he could.
"Part of being a successful club is making the players feel welcome and to show them that support,'' he said.
With 10 former Jets players in action at the Auckland Nines last weekend, Murray said he followed every game.
"It fills you with pride to see those guys playing for the big clubs on television," he said.
In the NRL, Murray supports the Parramatta Eels. He was delighted to see the blue and gold overcome the host Warriors side to claim their first Nines title.
The Eels fielded a number of fresh faces in the tournament, and Murray hopes the Jets can surprise the competition with their own new recruits this season.
"Looking at the Eels side I didn't think we would be much of a chance," he said.
"A bit like the Jets this year, there were a lot of new faces. I was very happy to see them win the tournament."
Ipswich Jets chairman Steve Johnson described the club's dedicated supporter as a remarkable man and a walking encyclopedia of rugby league knowledge.
"Leroy is a very passionate supporter of the club, through the good times and the bad he never waivers," Johnson said.
"He's only missed a game because of a wedding, and that was the first time I could remember in the last 10 years that he had missed one."
Johnson has been involved with the Jets for the past 20 years before becoming chairman. He said supporters like Leroy let the club know they are on the right track.
"It's vitally important to us and our culture that we are doing the right thing by the people of Ipswich and our fans," he said.
"Our players carry the aspirations of fans like Leroy, people who are so proud of their team.
"It fires the boys up and empowers them to do good things on and off the field, and we know we are doing the right thing because fans like Leroy wouldn't be so passionate otherwise.''
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