AS a teenager, Alan Shearer shivered his way through PE lessons in a “sports shed” that was “colder on the inside than it was outside”.
But yesterday the ex-Newcastle United number nine discovered that it is not just the heating which has been improved at his former school.Related content
Along with renowned Northumberland musician Kathryn Tickell, herself also an ex-pupil, the Match of the Day pundit returned to Gosforth High School, now Gosforth Academy, to officially open a new multi-million pound music and sports centre.
“It’s fantastic and they must all be very proud,” said Alan, 41. “The change is dramatic since the last time I was here.
“The kids are very lucky – I didn’t have any of this in my day.
“Back then the sports ‘shed’ was colder on the inside than it was outside.
“But if there had been facilities like this then perhaps I might have come inside and worked on my left foot more,” joked the notoriously right-footed striker.
Signed shirts from Shearer, former United and Sunderland striker Michael Chopra and current Huddersfield Town manager and United star Lee Clark hang on the wall of the new sports centre, which is open to the public outside school hours.
But as teachers gave the former striker a guided tour he saw that the next potential sporting prodigy starting out in the new Alan Shearer Sports Hall could just as easily be a fencer, climber, badminton player or trampolinist.
Fiddler and pipe player Kathryn Tickell, 44, who lent her name to the school’s new music room and who spent more than two hours practising and performing with children from all four of the academy’s schools, said she hoped it would encourage more students to be creative.
“Sport and music are brilliant ways of reaching out to young people as it doesn’t matter about academic excellence,” she said.
“I hope everyone in the school, whether or not they are fantastic or just beginning, will use the music room if they are playing classical, folk, jazz or hip hop.”
The new Sport@Gosforth complex has facilities for a number of sports including cricket and basketball, as well as a large gym, dance studio and climbing wall.
PE teacher Owen Aiston said his only regret was that he would soon be retiring and not have the opportunity to lead more classes in the new building.
“It’s fantastic,” he said. “I think it’s allowed us to pretty much double the sports curriculum, not just inside but also with the new 3G astroturf pitch.
“And whereas at one time we could barely teach a GCSE, now we can do A-levels and BTECs.”
Chair of governors Professor Mike Goodfellow said after more than 20 years of work it was gratifying to see the project come to completion.
“We had a lot of false dawns and many disappointments over many years,” he said.
“Four or five generations of children have passed through the lousy facilities. But now we have high hopes – and it’s the ambition of the governors and senior teachers to go on from here and make this the best comprehensive school in the land.”
Pupil Helen Watson, 17, from Kenton, said: “I hope it will encourage people to take on more sport and music.”