Doncaster Knights’ 34-11 Championship win over Moseley at Castle Park on Saturday ensured the post-match celebrations went off with a bang.
As part of a special day to mark Tony De Mulder’s 25 years as president, the club operated an extended ‘happy hour’ in the concourse under the main stand following the game which saw Knights climb into second place in the table.
Earlier in the day, the club had staged a surprise dinner for the man, who along with fellow benefactor Steve Lloyd, has played a major role in Knights’ rise to the second tier of English rugby from humble beginings.
Around 300 invited guests, who had all been sworn to secrecy for several weeks, gave De Mulder a standing ovation as he entered the room to a fanfare.
“It’s just amazing,” he said.
“It has been a fantastic 25 years and a real rollercoaster ride as you can imagine.
“Lots of things have happened including this wonderful building (main clubhouse) being built as well as the De Mulder-Lloyd Stand which my grandson opened when he was seven. It’s a fantastic stand and we are very proud of it.”
He added: “The team at the moment looks in excellent health and we’ve got an excellent coach in Clive Griffiths, so everything looks rosy.
“All we want now is a lot more money from the RFU!”
As a mark of his appreciation for what De Mulder has done for the club, director of rugby Griffiths allowed his players time off from their normal pre-match routine to make an appearance at the function.
Lloyd thanked the guests for ‘keeping the secret’ and helping to make the event a ‘complete’ surprise.
Writing in the match day programme, Lloyd said: “Tony has been, and continues to be, the beating heart of Doncaster Rugby Football Club.
“His constant cheerfulness and an inalienable talent for befriending all who come into contact with him has brought a unique quality to his presidency and, thereby, the Doncaster club, its progress, its palpable bonhomie and the esteem which it is now held within English rugby.
“We are all indebted to Tony for his presidency and I am proud to call him one of my closest friends.
“I hope and trust everyone connected with the club will join me in thanking him for his many years at the helm and for his foresight, generosity and all around great ‘clubmanship’.”
De Mulder, who used to play for the club in his younger days, had the honour of leading the teams out donned in a Doncaster shirt.
Knights, now unbeaten in six, visit Bedford on Saturday.