Friday, 14 January 2011


Top footballers today enjoy lavish lifestyles which are beyond the dreams of even their most famous and talented counterparts from the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

And while the likes of Middlesbrough’s Matthew Bates essentially play the same game as legendary players like Wilf Mannion the equipment they use is very different.

One key element which has changed completely is the ball and now The Old Fashioned Football Shirt Company (TOFFS) has created a replica of the old style laced leather footballs to celebrate the life of Sir Bobby Robson and in aid of his cancer charity.

TOFFS company secretary Michele Finch, who runs the business with her husband Alan, says: “Sir Bobby is usually remembered these days as a hugely successful manager but he was a gifted player too. Not only did he play 627 games of club football, he also proudly represented his country on 20 occasions.

“The game then was very different and the players had to contend with heavy pitches, boots and kit. That was nothing compared to the weight of the ball itself though. In wet weather and after it became caked with mud they became extremely heavy and difficult to control.

“Famously the leather footballs were also very painful when the player headed a strong ball and made contact with the lace stitching which held the whole thing together so they were not an ideal design.”

The TOFFS old style leather football celebrates both the professional managerial and playing career of Sir Bobby. All of his teams and the number of appearances he made are represented on the ball with a gold printed roll of honour.

It tells the story of Sir Bobby’s football life through England, Fulham and West Bromwich Albion, and as a manager for Fulham, Ipswich Town, England, overseas to PSV Eindhoven, Sporting CP, Porto, Barcelona and back home to his roots with Newcastle United.

Michele adds: “When we decided to raise funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation we came up with a host of ideas. We wanted to recreate a piece of history to celebrate the life of such a legend and help to raise funds and awareness for his cancer charity.

“It had to be something special though and throughout our 20 year history producing thousands of shirts which cover the eras in which Sir Bobby played and managed, we had never produced a ball.

“The leather laced up ball is now iconic and takes us back to another and very different age of football. It showcases the incredible football career of a great man and everyone at TOFFS is proud that by creating this football we are also helping a wonderful charity.”

Pauline Buglass, head of fundraising for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, says: “Sir Bobby would no doubt be fascinated by this football. I’m sure it would have brought back a lot of memories for him.

“His football career was remarkable and it’s incredible to think he played in an era when these heavy balls were used and then went on to manage in the very different world of today’s Premier League.

“Hopefully it will sell extremely well in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. We’re very grateful for the ongoing support we’re receiving so we can continue Sir Bobby’s wish to tackle cancer through new and more effective treatments.”

The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation football retails at £49.95 and 20 per cent of the proceeds of the sale will go to the charity. It is available only from or by calling 0191 4913500.

Thanks to fantastic ongoing support, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation has now raised over £2.5 million to fight cancer.

In addition to equipping the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care in Newcastle, the charity has funded a specialist research nurse and doctor.

It recently announced that it is working with Newcastle University and has committed to buying a Biomarker Generator, an ultra-compact cyclotron which will help with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other serious diseases and costing in excess of £500,000.

The cyclotron works by creating radioactive tracers which are given to patients who subsequently undergo scan to provide information on cancer and other diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The information collected from imaging radioactive tracers helps doctors to understand where the disease is in each patient, how serious the disease is, and the underlying processes and pathways that are sustaining the illness.

Sir Bobby’s family are committed to continuing the work of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation with the valued help of Patrons including Alan Shearer, Steve Gibson, Mick Mills and Niall Quinn.

Monday, 10 January 2011


An ambitious group of north east cyclists are undertaking a sponsored coast to coast ride with a difference by cycling from Chile’s Pacific coast to the Atlantic Ocean in Argentina. The 1,000 mile challenge includes crossing the Andes mountain range and cycling around 100 miles a day.

The six riders are funding the trip themselves and raising money in aid of cancer charity the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. They are Duncan Dollimore (Whitley Bay), Jimmy Logue (Benton), John O’Neil (Chester le Street), Kevin Waugh (Low Fell), Gary Riley (Felling) and Andrew Morland (Low Fell).

Their 12-day ride is now underway and they have already hit a major snag when one of their bikes failed to arrive at Satiago Airport, one of their main concerns before setting off. As a result the group are now taking turns riding what they describe as ‘Chilean boneshaker of a bike’.

Organiser Kevin Waugh says: “We planned everything in great detail but there will always be unexpected issues to resolve.

“Just after New Year an earthquake hit central Chile and destroyed a railway bridge which we were supposed to be crossing on our train journey to our starting point in Constitucion. This means we’ll have to lug all six bikes and equipment on to the replacement bus service so I’m sure we’ll be popular with other travellers.

“We’ve all trained really hard but it has been difficult due to the weather and the snow has affected our preparation. We’re very determined though and raising money in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation is really motivating.

“Our generation has too few heroes but Sir Bobby gave us hope that great men still appear from time to time. It seems unlikely to us that we'll see another man like him which makes it easy to dedicate the biggest trip of our lives to his charity.”

Kevin and his co-riders were seen off on their epic journey by Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer OBE who is an enthusiastic patron of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and no stranger to cycling himself.

In 2008 Alan and fellow television presenter Adrian Chiles cycled from Newcastle to London via West Bromwich in aid of the Sport Relief charity. They completed the 335 miles in just two days.

Alan says: “I really admire these guys and know from experience just how hard this will be for them.

“It is a real test of endurance and believe me the ride will take its toll on more than just their lungs and legs. Bike saddles are not the comfiest things to sit on for any great length of time as Adrian and I found out.

“They all sound very confident though which is good and they know they are doing all this for a great cause.

“It’s because of committed fund-raisers like these lads that we’re able to keep building on Sir Bobby’s legacy and continue to help local cancer patients.”

Lady Elsie, Sir Bobby’s widow, also sent the group a good luck message before they set off saying: "I would like to thank you and your families so much for all your efforts in training and organising your South American cycle ride.

“I hope you complete it safely and look forward to meeting up with you all upon your return."

The Ocean to Ocean Bike Ride begins at Constitucion, Chile, on January 9 and ends at Atlantic Beach in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on January 19. It takes in the Andes mountain range and one of the highest passes between Chile and Argentina. The group will cycle close to the crash site of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, which was the subject of film and book Alive.

More information, how to make a donation and regular updates from South America are available via the website

The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation was launched by Sir Bobby in March 2008 and has gone on to raise more than £2.5 million to fight cancer.

It operates within the Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust to provide services not yet available within the NHS and directly benefits patients across the north east and Cumbria

The charity recently announced it is working with Newcastle University and is jointly committed to buying a Biomarker Generator, an ultra-compact cyclotron which will help with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other serious diseases. It is only the second of its type in the world and the first in Europe and costs more than £500,000.