Thursday, 17 May 2012


If there was a finer day to unveil a statue of Sir Bobby Robson outside St James’ Park than Sunday 6th May then no one present could think of one.  That the sun was high in the sky was a mere aside – perhaps proving that it always shines on Sir Bobby and those who loved him and continue to cherish his memory.

Of more relevance and resonance, of course, was the financial milestone recently reached by the Foundation and of the club back operating at a level Sir Bobby left them – playing good football, involved in important games at the top of the league and fighting for European qualification.

In attendance was Newcastle United’s current manager Alan Pardew, the club’s Chairman Derek Llambias, a number of Sir Bobby’s former players, notable representatives of the Foundation including Professor Ruth Plummer and Patron Niall Quinn, Sir Bobby’s sons Andrew, Mark and Paul, and his widow Lady Elsie, who had the hundreds of supporters hanging on her every word. “Even from the depths of darkness, brightness can emerge” she said. “There’s only one Bobby Robson” the fans sang in reply, by way of a salute.

Engaging and thought provoking, always the Robson way, Lady Elsie thanked the club for the wonderful gesture and spoke of Bobby’s journey from Langley Park to the top European football via a spot with his father and brother on the Gallowgate end. She spoke too of the pride he had in reaching the Champions League as manager with his club and thrill that he would have found in watching this current team.

Lady Elsie talked of Bobby leading ‘a black and white life’ – one which no doubt by extension she lived herself, like many loved ones on Tyneside do – but it is Sir Bobby’s universal appeal and unending charm that has led to the Foundation’s fundraising recently topping £4 million in just four years.  A magnificent achievement made possible by fundraising and charitable giving from Tyneside, Teesside, Wearside, Suffolk, and from across the UK and the globe.

And so, now there he is, standing proud with a ball at his feet and a smile on his face, looking out across the city and region he loved and served, all in ear shot of one of the most beautiful sounds a Geordie football man like him can hear. A huge crowd in full voice, raw and passionate, Newcastle United score again. He’ll be in heaven.

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