Jacqui Forster Obituary as published in The Guardian 25/6/18
Thousands of football and sports fans have reason to be thankful to my sister, Jacqui Forster, who has died aged 55 of multiple cancers nine years after first being diagnosed with breast cancer.
As head of casework and constitutional affairs at Supporters Direct, the organisation that promotes fans’ involvement in the running of their clubs and encourages them to form shareholding trusts, she helped to establish almost 200 such trusts across the country.
In 2017 she founded Women at the Game to encourage more women to go to live matches. She wanted to help women to feel comfortable attending matches. The initiative started at non-league games and rapidly gained a foothold in the Premier League. Last season Manchester City and Huddersfield Town both hosted designated WATG matches.
Jacqui was born and brought up in Altrincham, Cheshire, daughter of Joyce (nee Botham), a hairdresser, and Sam Forster, a joiner and former shipbuilder. Her lifelong passion for football, especially non-league, was sparked when our father took her to see the local team at the age of five. She quickly became hooked.
She joined Hills solicitors in Altrincham as a secretary in 1980, but became interested in legal practice and began study to become a legal executive. She joined the legal department of Trafford council in 1983 then moved to a more senior position for Vale Royal council (now part of Cheshire West and Chester council) in 1990. Later that year she moved to Oxfordshire, joining the legal department of Buckinghamshire county council, and later becoming senior legal executive for Vale of White Horse district council.
She became a shop steward and activist for Unison at local, regional and national levels, developing the commitment to equality, diversity and fair play that became her trademark.
In 2003 she landed her dream job as a case worker at Supporters Direct, in 2014 becoming its head of casework and constitutional affairs. The first woman to do the job, she assisted supporters to form trusts at clubs from non-league to mighty Manchester City, eventually branching out into rugby league, rugby union, speedway and ice hockey. Many teams once facing financial disaster now owe their existence to her commitment and dedication, her sound advice and specialist knowledge.
She spent many cold, wet winter nights in meetings with supporters everywhere from Hull to Portsmouth, from Coventry to Leeds and from Bath to Northwich. When Rochdale Hornets RLFC were on the brink of bankruptcy in 2009, she dashed to the town at an hour’s notice to help the trust take ownership of the club.
Jacqui’s love affair with Altrincham FC endured throughout her life. She became a vice-president of the club and lately its honorary head of diversity and inclusion. She died the day after they won the game that secured their automatic promotion.
Jacqui is survived by her husband, and fellow Altrincham supporter, Pete Baker, whom she married in 2016, and me.