Global United fans go for spinetingler

NEWCASTLE United fans around the world have made an overwhelming call for Local Hero to be returned as the matchday anthem at St James’s Park.

NEWCASTLE United fans around the world have made an overwhelming call for Local Hero to be returned as the matchday anthem at St James’s Park.

Last month, The Journal gave readers the chance to vote on which tune they preferred to hear as the teams run onto the pitch.

There has been unrest since the theme from the film Local Hero, written by Tyneside-born Mark Knopfler, was replaced with If The Kids Are United, by London punk band Sham 69.

Voting closed at midnight last night with the Local Hero theme the easy winner.

And after club bosses urged the fans to let them know what they wanted, The Journal will today present the results of the poll to the club. Only 16 people voted for the club’s choice, If the Kids are United. But Local Hero received 1,903 votes while its nearest challenger, folk song The Blaydon Races amassed only 95. Forty-two supporters called for no music to be played.

A club spokesman has said: “We were looking to improve the atmosphere and thought maybe it was time for a change in the music.

“We hear a lot of different opinions from fans. People are quite divided – some like Local Hero, others would like to hear The Blaydon Races, while some say they don’t want any music at all so the crowd can build the atmosphere.

“We are keen to hear from fans so we can get the best formula and ensure the atmosphere at St James’s is as good as it always is.”

Most votes came from fans in the region, but the issue inflamed the passions of Newcastle United followers all over the world. Votes were emailed from Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, France, Germany, the Philippines, Switzerland, Belgium, Sweden and Norway. There were several votes from the US and Australia.

The response in Britain was also widespread, with fans living anywhere from Glasgow to Plymouth having their say.

Among many to express their disgust at the replacement of Knopfler’s piece was Frank Gilmour, of the Newcastle United Independent Supporters Association.

He said: “I can’t understand why they changed it. Local Hero has become as much a Geordie anthem as The Blaydon Races.

“It was written by a Geordie and has a strong connection with the club.

“It got my spine tingling every time they played it and I knew the players were about to come out.”

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One special cause that is luring Shearer back

ALAN SHEARER and other Newcastle United favourites are among football legends who will play in a charity match next month.

Shearer, Peter Beardsley and Paul Gascoigne will turn out for an England Legends XI against a Rest of the World Legends team.

England will be managed by Terry Venables while Sven Goran Eriksson will take charge of the foreign side, which will include former Newcastle manager Ruud Gullit.

Shearer and former Chelsea frontman Gianfranco Zola will captain the two teams in the game at the City of Manchester stadium, which it is hoped will raise £1m for sick and needy children.

Shearer said: “When I finished playing I made a conscious decision effectively not to play in any games.

“As you can imagine, I am bombarded with requests and when I finished playing I wanted to have a break
from football. That’s why I retired.

“But that’s gone because this is for such a fantastic cause and for players in both squads will mean a lot to them. I looked at the names playing, I looked at the charity and I wasn’t going to turn it down.”

The Professional Footballers’ Association Centenary Game, supporting the One Goal, One Million charity, will be played on December 2.

Among players due to line up for England are Ian Wright, Des Walker and Paul Ince.

Shearer said: “I’m not as fit as I was three or four years ago, but I have got a month to get fit and hopefully I’ll be fitter than some of the others.

“I think it is under-estimated how much current and ex-players do for charity. A lot of it is unseen by the public.

“It will be a great occasion and for a fantastic charity. I am sure it will be a decent game too.”

All proceeds from the fixture, and other events that have run throughout the PFA’s centenary year, will go to the One Goal, One Million charity trust fund.

The trust was established with the aim of raising £1m to build a rehabilitation unit at the new Manchester Children’s Hospital.

Shepherd barred from box at St James’s

NEWCASTLE United supremo Mike Ashley has frozen out former owner Freddie Shepherd from his corporate box at St James’s Park.

The wrangle prevented the Shepherds using their executive seats for the Magpies’ recent win against Tottenham.

Freddie Shepherd’s brother Bruce was even turned away from the ground before the game. Yesterday, Mr Shepherd said: “It is a contractual dispute and we are advised by our lawyers not to comment further.”

The Shepherd family hold an executive box under the name of Shepherd Offshore.

They had until now continued to use it to entertain guests, but tensions mounted with the arrival of new owner Mike Ashley and his regime. A source close to the family said: “Bruce was turned away at the Tottenham game when he tried to use the box as normal.

“Freddie was away at the time, but Bruce was stopped by a club official who told him the box had been closed off.”

Last night, the club did not wish to comment on the situation.

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Jack Charlton shirt sidelined

THE England football shirt worn by Jack Charlton in the quarter final of the 1966 World Cup failed to sell at auction yesterday.

Charlton, born in Ashington, Northumberland, famously swapped the shirt with an Argentinian opponent at the end of the game – against his manager’s instructions.

Sir Alf Ramsey had been upset by the brutal style of the South Americans and ordered his players not to part with their jerseys.

England won the game 1-0, thanks to a goal from Geoff Hurst, whose World Cup final shirt once sold for £90,000 at auction.

But yesterday, despite the shirt’s unique history and England’s success in the tournament, the auction at Bonham’s in Chester failed to entice a buyer. It had been expected to fetch £5,000 to £6,000.

Sports consultant to the saleroom Dan Davies said: “I have to say, I was absolutely gobsmacked because it’s such an original story.”


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer