WOMAN of Steel Ruby Gascoigne is to attend her first football match this weekend – at the age of 89.
Ruby is one of the city’s Women of Steel – a status that will make her guest of honour at Bramall Lane for the derby game between Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday.
It will also be a day of mixed emotions as one of Ruby’s sons, Gregory, died at the Lane while watching a match, aged 46.
The family were overwhelmed by the support offered by the club at the time but Sunday will be the first time Ruby has ever stepped inside the ground. As a girl she was one of hundreds of young women to work in the city’s steel factories during the Second World War, producing parts for aircraft, tanks and bombs which were vital to the war effort.
At the match she will be joined by fellow Woman of Steel Kathleen Roberts, and the pair will go onto the pitch to wave to the capacity crowd before the kick-off.
Ruby’s son Kevin hopes his mother’s appearance will help raise the profile of The Star’s Women of Steel campaign.
He said: “The Women of Steel did as much as the Land Army girls, but their work was never really recognised in a similar way. Although to be fair, they never asked for any thanks – they saw it as their duty.”
Kevin, a committed Blade, said: “One of my ambitions has always to been to get mum to Bramall Lane because I wanted her to see exactly what the fascination has been for us all! Throughout her life, she has had to put up with first my dad, and then all her five boys, being fanatical Blades. She truly was a football widow.”
An artist is being chosen to work on a statue in Sheffield city centre in recognition of the sacrifices of the Women of Steel, and a plaque is due to be unveiled in Barkers Pool in November to mark the women’s achievements.
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