Stadium Manager Ian Darler, pays tribute to Wally Rookes on behalf of the Stadium staff at the Abbey.
Generations of Cambridge United supporters, staff and officials lost a dear friend and colleague with the death of Wally Rookes
Wally was at his happiest when having a moan and oh boy could he moan but that was just a front, behind that moaning was a very kind and caring gentleman who would always try to help out with whatever was required.
Wally had the ability to charm the birds from the trees in order to get what he wanted for his beloved Cambridge United Fc.
And I can recall a number of light hearted events that involved wally, the first was when Tommy Taylor organised a staff football match and asked Wally if he would go in goal, to our surprise Wally agreed even though he was approaching 70 years of age, the day of the game arrived and Wally clad in his long shorts and cloth cap of a forma era was ready for action. Wally earned a warm applause when he dived at full stretch to tip an Orient penalty kick round the post. After the save Wally lifted his cap took a bow and walked off the pitch.
I can recall Wally helping all the groundstaff out with their protective clothing and boots as he had a friend in the Royal Anglian store the groundstaff looked as they had appeared in M.A.S.H all wearing the green army combat trousers shirts, jackets and boots. Don’t ask any questions was a reply from Wally when I asked about how he got the kit.
Wally also had a very caring and sensitive side underneath his hard shell as many of the work experience children found out when working at the stadium. He would make them feel very welcome with his light hearted banter and on occasions offer them some guidance on life.
In the 35 years that I knew Wally and he helped me at the stadium I cannot recall any occasion that he refused to carry out the work which is amazing when you consider he was a volunteer.
An amazing friend and work mate who will be missed but not forgotten.