Saints tribute: Joan Carnell

Joan Carnell (right) with her daughter, Sarah (left)
Joan Carnell (right) with her daughter, Sarah (left)

Most Saints supporters probably never met Joan Carnell.

She was one of them, but only really visible to members of the media on a match day.

And what a cherished presence she was among those fortunate enough to be part of the press.

Joan welcomed everyone in the manner which she would wish to be welcomed.

Whatever she had going on in her personal life - and we know she had a lengthy battle with illness - she never let it show.

"Would you like a drink, Tom?" she would say, always with a broad smile, even though I rarely accepted as I am usually in a rush to get up to the press bench before a game.

After the match, the same routine occurred and I actually started to consume more hot beverages because you could never turn down a drink from Joan twice in the same day.

And, to be honest, you usually can't feel your hands after matches.

Accompanying the drink would be conversation as warm as what you were holding in your hands.

Joan was such a lovely lady - someone who was instantly likeable and someone who radiated kindness.

Having covered Saints for six full seasons now, I can genuinely tell you that she was among my favourite people at the club.

No one would have a bad word to say about her.

The title press room supervisor simply doesn't do justice to the job she did and she probably helped her club to get a few more favourable write-ups simply because she makes you feel more upbeat after a match.

For Joan, it was not just a job.

She paid to go to Twickenham to watch her beloved team in action in 2014, and seeing her smile at the celebratory party at the Gardens that same evening was so satisfying.

She had loved every second of her day out and it was richly deserved after all of the days of work she had poured into Saints.

She would never have forgotten that feeling of seeing her club claim such long overdue glory at the home of English rugby.

And we will never forget how she made the Gardens feel like home on every match day.

Rest in peace, Joan.