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.