Sunday, 7 October 2012
FOOTBALL CORRESPONDENT TAKES THE PLUNGE
In 2010, such was the uncertainty surrounding Newcastle United that Henry promised to swim the river if the club committed long-term to Alan Pardew. After Alan Pardew signed an eight year contract, Henry immediately agreed to fulfil his wager and take the plunge.
In glorious sunshine, he swam from Newcastle City Marina to the pontoon at Royal Naval Reserve training unit HMS Calliope on the Gateshead bank. As he emerged from the cold river he was greeted with a Newcastle United towel courtesy of the club.
Henry undertook his swim in the shadow of the Tyne Bridge and under the bemused gaze of hundreds of shoppers at Newcastle’s popular Quayside Market.
Henry says: “I’m fresh and frozen, it was cold. The first two thirds were a doddle and I thought this is ok, a nice gentle paddle across the Tyne. But then suddenly the current hit and it was like the fast lane of the motorway.
“I could actually feel myself being dragged along and I was fortunate to have an experienced swimmer alongside me in Tony Greener. In fact, at one point I think I grabbed Tony’s toe.
“It’s really been fun. The reaction to my daft bet and this swim shows what a football mad city this is.
“Everyone has rallied round to help and that’s a sign of the depth of feeling for Sir Bobby and the great work funded through the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
“I have my own fond memories of Sir Bobby. He was simply one of the greatest managers this country has produced and great man.
“And I thought it was a class act of Alan Pardew to send me a congratulatory note and a club towel. He was obviously confident I’d make it because he sent it to the Gateshead side of the river.”
Henry was ably supported by experienced swimmer Tony Greener from North Shields, organiser of the annual Tyne 10 Mile River Swim and, after his chilly dip, headed off to more familiar surroundings to cover Newcastle United v Manchester United.
Newcastle United manager, Alan Pardew, was quick to offer Henry his best wishes saying: "Henry, you're a man of your word and I like that - congratulations! I can't imagine how cold it was in the Tyne today, but rest assured we'll give you a warm welcome when you arrive at the stadium later.
“What's more, well done for raising money to support the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. It's a superb charity that's close to all our hearts here at Newcastle United and across the North East, so a big thank you for that."
The Tyne is a dangerous tidal river and Henry’s swim was made only possible thanks to wonderful support from the Royal Naval Reserve training unit HMS Calliope, NE1 Ltd and Port of Tyne.
Warships HMS Example and HMS Archer are currently berthed at HMS Calliope and kindly made way for both Henry and the 'Sir Bobby Robson’ – Port of Tyne’s new dredger. The Sir Bobby Robson was launched by Lady Elsie in the traditional manner earlier this year and the boat tracked Henry’s progress across the river.
Andrew Moffat, Chief Executive Officer for the Port of Tyne, says: “This unusual event is for a very good cause and we were happy to assist with appropriate safety cover to ensure it all went well.
“We would never encourage people to swim in the river without permission and supervision on hand, which of course the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation has ensured is in place.
“The Port of Tyne is very proud to support the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation so when we were asked to help make this swim happen today in aid of the Foundation we were delighted to assist.”
Adrian Waddell, NE1 Ltd Director of Operations, adds: “‘We’re delighted that Newcastle City Marina has been able to help with Henry’s Tyne swimming debut and wish him and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation the very best of luck.”
To donate and support Henry, please visit www.justgiving.com/TyneSwim.