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Opinion

The Sir Bobby Robson Cup

5 months ago
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With a potential change in ownership bringing a breath of fresh air to NUFC, it feels the time is right to have a think about what we can do to help our once great club rise from the ashes after thirteen years of neglect and contempt from the top.

A lot of fans quite rightly point to much needed stadium improvements, academy investments and first team strengthening.

Is there anything else though we can do to help get the feelgood factor back to Tyneside and St James Park?

If any good has come from these uncertain and frightening times, the global pandemic has shifted the public’s focus on charity with people now finding strength through warmth and generosity. This has been epitomised this week where the wonderful Captain Tom Moore celebrated his one hundredth birthday by doing a hundred laps around his garden and raising a staggering twenty three million pounds (and counting) for the NHS. There’s now quite rightly a campaign to get this gentleman the knighthood that he so richly deserves.

The words ‘gentleman’ and ‘knighthood’ brings me to our very own legend – the one and only Sir Bobby Robson.

In 2008, Sir Bobby and his wife Lady Elsie set up the hugely successful ‘Sir Bobby Robson Foundation’, raising funds and helping people of all walks of life who were/are facing cancer. This charity is something the entire region can be immensely proud of as we enter a period of time where we value the NHS and support services above all others.

Alan Shearer is a patron of Sir Bobby’s foundation but also has a charity of his very own, ‘The Alan Shearer Centre’ that offers activities, respite, short-breaks and accommodation for those with complex disabilities and acute sensory impairments. Having been lucky enough to work with disabled people of all ages for the past fourteen years, I’ve seen first hand what a crucial difference these places can make to the families of disabled people, as well as the individuals who attend. A great goalscorer but an even greater charity making a positive difference to our great city.

Let’s not forget the foodbank collections on matchdays outside at St James Park too, that raises a fantastic amount of money whilst also putting together food parcels for families that need this support – a wonderful scheme put together by volunteers working hard out of the goodness of their hearts.

Dare I say it, we could even have a brief glance down the road at the Stadium of Light where ‘The Shippey Campaign’ does outstanding work, helping make stadiums more accessible for fans with autism. In my line of work, I’ve been in touch with Peter and Kate Shippey and you couldn’t meet nicer people. Newcastle fans were even invited to access the sensory area for a derby match a few years back, a tremendous gesture that proves some things in life are so much more important than the team you support.

The Newcastle United Disabled Supporters Association (NUDSA) work tirelessly too to ensure access to matches for our disabled supporters, a charity that I’m sure we would all gladly get behind.

So, is there any way we can raise a lot of money for Tyneside’s many amazing charities whilst also having fun, excitement and showcasing our wonderful club and city?

There is an answer so simple that it’s been staring us in the face for nearly eleven years – ‘The Sir Bobby Robson Cup’!

Sir Bobby Robson not only founded his own hugely successful charity, he also spent decades in the game racking up trophies and respect from a number of high profile clubs. Pre-season at the best of times is a bit of a bore so let’s organise a tournament between some of Sir Bobby’s most loved clubs. We could invite legends from NUFC, Ipswich Town, Barcelona and PSV Eindhoven to play a weekend-long tournament in a football festival honouring a legend at all clubs (invite four more too including England legends if we want a quarter final round), whilst packing out the stadium and raising an absolute ton of money for good charities.

Selling out St James Park for two straight days would give one hundred and four thousand people the chance to donate to the Newcastle United foodbank and there are literally dozens of ways we could extend this to raise money and awareness for good causes. There could be a talk-in both nights at the bars with some of the legends who’d taken part. We could have autographed match worn shirts auctioned on ebay, there could even be a raffle for a lucky fan to win a ten minute cameo in one of the matches, we could get special shirts and scarfs printed for the occasion with all the proceeds going to charity. We’re known as the ‘generous Geordies’ so let’s use this additional time at our disposal to plan something absolutely massive and raise a heap of money and awareness for some very worthy causes.

Setting up an event like this would take an awful lot of hard work from a lot of people so what can we as ordinary fans practically do to help make it happen? Lots of things!

We can get in touch with the clubs themselves, mooting the idea, and see if there’s any interest (obviously with ours we’ll be waiting to be in touch with a new owner), we can tweet club legends and local organisations to promote the idea, we can put it on facebook in the hope that it gets shared with as many people as possible. Local journalists and politicians could be made aware of the idea and the charities themselves can also be approached to see if they’d like to be involved.

Our club, city and stadium have all been allowed to completely and utterly stagnate under the awful tyranny of the worst owner in our history.

This feast of football and party weekend would be the perfect way to kickstart a new era where hope replaces despair, excitement replaces chore and pride replaces profit.

I may be getting a tad ahead of myself here but who knows, ‘The Sir Bobby Robson Cup’ could be NUFC’s first honour of the new era… the first of many!

The Armchair Fan has his very own blog here and you can follow on Twitter @NUFCarmchairfan

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