From Chester to the Wirral, Darren Hawes has transformed into ‘one of the gaffers’ of the Tranmere Rovers’ LGBT+ Supporters group, Rover and Out.  

The group was originally founded by Adam Siddorn in 2018 to help the Wirral and wider Liverpool community come together and fight back against homophobia.  

Rover and Out have two sides to their organisation, with the mixed gender football team and the supporters club that is boosted by local Tranmere fans.

They host a weekly football session every Friday from 8-9pm at Tranmere’s training ground, that is fully inclusive and open to the public. Throughout the rest of the year, they find themselves playing against other ‘like-minded’ clubs such as charity football teams.

Hawes has recently taken on more responsibility in his involvement with the group and has become the inclusion manager who oversees the fixtures. He said: “I was very much welcomed and I’m lucky enough to be a part of something like this.”  

The club have recently made it through to the semi finals of the National Affinity Cup where they will take on Derbyshire charity football team, Knight & Co FC.

The National Affinity Cup is an FA Cup style competition for UK based charity football clubs. The aim of the tournament is to promote equality, inclusiveness and togetherness for foundations such as Rover and Out.

The date of the tie has yet to be announced, as the group look on to their upcoming fixtures until the end of the year.

The Chester-born man described how important it was for there to be more groups like theirs: “It encourages people to learn more about the struggles and difficulties that members of the LGBT community face in sport especially.”  

After moving to the Wirral a few years ago, Hawes ran a charity football team in Chester and discovered how sport can bring people together in the community.

He said: “It’s amazing to see how people from different backgrounds can come together to create something so inspiring, and it’s great to see Rover and Out become more popular in Merseyside after all the hard work everyone has put into the group.”

The club also introduced a ‘match day buddy’ system at the start of Tranmere’s 2023/24 season where fans could email the group if they were looking for somebody to attend the match with, and so they could find the meet up point without any difficulties.

This had great success as fans that didn’t want to watch the match alone had someone to enjoy the game with, and they aim to use this scheme again in the near future.

Rover and Out are open to any age and gender as they have created a safe space for everyone with no judgement whatsoever, and this is the key message they want to get across to people of Merseyside. 

Hawes said: “We play football with people from all sorts of backgrounds and some of the stereotypes mostly include that we are predominantly a LGBTQ group, whereas we actually regard ourselves as very open and inclusive to all, so sexuality isn’t an aspect of membership as such.” 

Since starting the project back in 2018 the group has grown more and more, as they have now set up a donation bucket at Prenton Park. This is for fans to give what they can to support The Martin Gallier Project which helps vulnerable families in crisis in the local area who cannot afford toys for their children at Christmas. 

Hawes stated how ‘proud’ he was of the journey his group have come on over the past few years and how it has benefited people’s mental health within the team.

He said: “We know how difficult it is for individuals when it comes to expressing your sexuality, and we have created this safe space for everyone where they can just come and play football and be who they want to be.

“The amount of people who keep their mental health struggles to themselves is growing even more, and we want people to be able to speak their minds in this group and help each other. It’s also been great to see people forming friendships at the club as some people might not have these sort of connections outside of the group.”

The group have already begun to achieve their aim of spreading the word about their inclusive football kickabouts, but they still want to attract even more people from around Merseyside.