AT Tow Law Town football club on Saturday they held a minute’s silence before kicking off a pre-season game against Workington Reds in memory of Sir Bobby Robson.
No different, then, from countless other grounds across Britain.
Except that at Tow Law, more than 1,000 feet above sea level and just a few miles from Sir Bobby’s home village of Langley Park, the silence had a special resonance.
For Sir Bobby was Life President of the tiny County Durham club and had formed a special bond with its officials and supporters, helping out when it was strapped for cash after the foot-and-mouth outbreak which devastated the area in 2001.
In Tow Law they still talk about the time he came straight from St James’s Park, where he was managing Newcastle United at the time, to give a talk on football to raise much-needed funds.
The talk – which he gave for free – was supposed to last around half an hour, but two-and-a-half hours later his mobile rang – at around 15 minutes before midnight.
It was his wife Elsie wondering where he had got to!
Tow Law supporter and Durham county councillor Joe Armstrong said: "That was typical of Sir Bobby.
"He never forgot where he was brought up. He got so engrossed in chatting to the locals in the clubhouse about football and signing autographs on whatever was thrust before him that he completely forgot the time.
"But Lady Elsie is also a wonderful, down-to-earth woman. She would have known he would have been in full flow chatting about football when she rang him."
In Langley Park they still talk about the time that, as manager of Ipswich Town, he brought both the FA Cup and the Uefa Cup "home."
Retired miner Frank Powell, 87, who now lives in what was Sir Bobby’s late father Philip’s bungalow in Browney Court, said: "There were hundreds turned out when he brought the Uefa Cup to Langley Park in 1981. It was like a visit from royalty."
Three years earlier Sir Bobby had brought the FA Cup to Langley Park where he paraded it in the cricket club.
As manager of Ipswich Town, he had masterminded victory for the unfashionable Suffolk club against the mighty Arsenal at Wembley on May 6, 1978.
Among those present was Jean Taylor, and her daughters Geraldine, then five, and Debra, 12.
A year ago Sir Bobby returned to the cricket club to start a six-mile sponsored walk organised by Geraldine and Debra in memory of their mother, who died of cancer six years ago.
Funds raised went to the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Foundation.
Geraldine, now Raggatt, aged 36, of Davis Crescent, Langley Park, said: "Debra and I both remember being taken there to see Bobby and the cup. He spoke to everybody, including my mother, who was thrilled to meet him. I was just a little girl sitting on her knee at the time!"
Photographs from The Journal archives show Sir Bobby on visits to his home area over the years, including to his alma mater, Waterhouses Secondary School in Esh Winning, and with four-year-old Michael Hood and the Uefa Cup won with Ipswich.
If you were on these photographs why not share your memories of meeting Sir Bobby by contacting The Journal newsdesk on 0191 201-6007 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Page 4 - Ipswich consider renaming a stand >>
Ipswich consider renaming a stand
IPSWICH Town chief executive Simon Clegg has revealed the club is considering naming a stand at Portman Road after Sir Bobby Robson.
Sir Bobby won the FA Cup with the Suffolk club in 1978 and brought Uefa Cup glory to Portman Road in 1981.
His success at Ipswich is recognised at Portman Road by a statue and the Sir Bobby Robson hospitality suite. Mr Clegg has discussed the possibility of naming a stand with the man himself.
"We have given serious consideration to a further permanent memorial and tribute to Sir Bobby. There are a range of ideas we are looking at and have been looking at over the past few months," he told the club’s website, itfc.co.uk.
"Naming a stand after Sir Bobby is one of the options we have discussed and we spoke to Sir Bobby about it but he didn’t feel it was appropriate until a period after he had passed away. We obviously want to respect that and will respect that.
"We will listen to what the supporters have to say and all ideas for a fitting tribute will be given due consideration but at the end of the day it needs to be something identifiable with the club and Portman Road in particular."
Page 5 - Cathedral's dean praises 'a son of Durham' >>
Cathedral's dean praises 'a son of Durham'
THE Dean of Durham Cathedral said yesterday he would "very much welcome" the opportunity to host a memorial service for Sir Bobby Robson.
The Very Reverend Michael Sadgrove stressed that nobody had approached the cathedral on behalf of Sir Bobby’s family, but said: "Should the approach be made it is something we would very much welcome.
"Sir Bobby was a son of Durham and a fine ambassador for the North East. We would certainly be very interested in hosting a memorial service.
"If his family would like a memorial service in Durham Cathedral we would welcome an approach and we would look forward to working with them."
Some of the biggest names in football would honour Sir Bobby should a memorial service be held at Durham Cathedral.
The likes of Sir Alex Ferguson, Franz Beckenbauer, Fabio Capello, Sir Bobby Charlton and Alan Shearer would be expected to attend the service, which is likely to be held in the autumn.
Sir Bobby was born in Sacriston, grew up in Langley Park and last December was granted the freedom of Durham in recognition of his services to football and his charity work.
Sir Bobby’s agent, Jane Morgan, said: "Planning for this wonderful experience will take time because of the enormous number of people who will attend.
"I spoke to Bobby and Elsie (Sir Bobby’s widow) earlier in the year and it was agreed there should be a thanksgiving service, preferably in the North-East.
"But the sheer logistics mean it may be a while before we can announce any definite details."
It was more than 20 years since the last memorial service was held in the North for a sporting legend.
As many as 50,000 lined the streets as Jackie Milburn’s funeral cortege was transported 14 miles from his terraced home in Ashington to St Nicholas’s Cathedral in the centre of Newcastle in October 1988.
Milburn, the legendary Newcastle United centre forward of the 1950s, died of lung cancer aged 64.
At the cathedral there was another huge turn-out.
All 900 seats were taken up, some arriving two hours early, and 200 more were shoe-horned in at the back. Outside, a further 2,000 gathered.
Similar numbers would be expected for Sir Bobby’s memorial service.