A Diamond Star member since 1995, Dorothy "Dot" Jensen recently celebrated her 90th birthday doing one of the things she loves most – supporting her team at a North Queensland Toyota Cowboys home game!
As a special treat, the Cowboys Spirit visited Dot in her Western-stand seat to present the exclusive member's birthday-gram – a signed Cowboys football, a keepsake she says she will gladly add to her collection of team collectables.
“I’ve always been around football, and one of the best things about being a member of the Cowboys is all the bits and pieces you get, which I keep until New Year’s Day and give to my grandchildren and my friends from bingo…it’s a bit of a tradition now,” Mrs Jensen said.
Dot celebrating her 90th birthday surrounded by friends and family
Originally from Home Hill, the Brandon local marked her birthday milestone at home surrounded by her 61 grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren who were among over 200 guests invited to her Cowboys-themed party.
For Dot, family has always been instrumental in her constant love of rugby league.
“I’m from a football family and I remember my dad used to be the time-keeper for the Palm Island matches that were held in the Burdekin … all my brothers played rugby league so it’s really been a part of my life since the very beginning.”
A history in league
A mother of four boys and two daughters, Dot supported grassroots rugby league mainly for her children but also volunteered in the club canteen, helping feed hundreds of young players every weekend of the season.
“We would make proper meals like spaghetti for all the kids to have after they played their game, so we would feed our boys, and their opponents … we all got in and helped and that was the way it was back then – and still is now – the sport really does bring people together.”
Sister Cath was also an avid fan and the two would travel to every home game together before Cath's passing
Even before the arrival of her first grandchild some time ago, Dot affectionately became known as “Grandma” to most who met her from her time in junior rugby league, and it's a nickname that remains with her today.
Give it to ‘Grandma’
Like many fans, Dot was eager to add a JT kicking tee to her collection, and with her persistence and charm she was able to do just that.
“I went around asking everyone how I could get one, and in the end I asked the chap who looks after the ball boys, who told me that he couldn’t give one to me but asked which seat I was in.
“Later in the game, JT kicked a goal near where I was sitting, and the young [ball] girl went to take it way down to the Southern end but he [ball boy official] called her back and said ‘go and give it to Grandma’ – it was lovely for him to do that.”
Grandma Dot is definitely a number one member and fan!
Though the name 'Grandma' has stuck with her, she’s not shy telling people that she’s no little old lady!
“I was on a bus to Sydney to watch the Grand Final against the Tigers [in 2005], and I was sitting next to a young backpacker who was astonished that a ‘little old lady was travelling by herself’, and I just said to her, ‘that will be enough of that little old lady stuff!’” she laughs.
No break in supporting Jake
While she has stuck by her team since the very beginning, she takes it in turns to barrack for an individual player, and lately she’s been Jake Granville’s main lady in the stands.
“At the start of every season I pick someone I’m going to barrack for and for the last few years I’ve stuck with Jake. When he first moved up here he didn’t really have anyone to support him so I just wanted him to know I was right behind him.
“I think he’s a real gentleman, and always takes the time to say good afternoon – I think he’s lovely.”
Christmas is a special time for many, and for Dot and her friend Iris it has always been a tradition they whole-heartedly support.
In 2016, Dot and Iris both received an Australia Day Achievement Award from the Burdekin Shire Council in recognition for having jointly decorated Iris’s house in fairy lights and dressing as Santa and Mrs Claus for over 20 years – a spectacle cherished by their growing grand-family and community alike.
Dorothy and Iris receiving their Australia Day award in 2016.
It is also the time of year Dot receives an important present from her sons – her Cowboys membership!
“Three of my sons shout my membership as a Christmas present every year, but even if they didn’t buy it for me, I’d still get it for myself because I love the Cowboys too much not to.”
Dot [Santa] loves to spend Christmas with her family - and looks forward to receiving her Christmas membership each year.
The Cowboys thank ‘Grandma’ Dot for her unwavering support and commitment to the club. You’ve believed in us through thick and thin. That’s what makes our members so special!
The 2017 Cowboys membership program is proudly supported by Shine Lawyers.