Shay Given relishing a return to St James’ Park

SHAY Given was frustrated not to be in Newcastle yesterday, but the former Magpies goalkeeper is already excited about returning on February 4.

SHAY Given was frustrated not to be in Newcastle yesterday, but the former Magpies goalkeeper is already excited about returning on February 4.

A new quiet area was opened at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care at the Freeman Hospital yesterday, a joint project between Macmillan Cancer Support and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

Given is a patron of Macmillan and played for Newcastle United under Sir Bobby.

The project was something the pair discussed the last time they met, and has been funded by Given’s 2008 Fashion Kicks show.

Given, though, is in Hong Kong with his new club Aston Villa.

After a frustrating year on the Manchester City sidelines as back-up to Joe Hart, the Irishman’s move to the Midlands has handed him a realistic chance of playing at a ground he graced with such distinction.

The 35-year-old has not performed at St James’ Park since leaving in 2009. Villa are due there in February.

He said: “I was up at St James’ Park last year, but I was sitting on the bench. It will be great for me to finally go back to St James’ Park.

“It was 12 years of my life, and it will be nice to go back and see the fans.”

Having made endless visits to his mother Agnes’ bedside as a child as she unsuccessfully fought cancer, the cause is close to Given’s heart.

His annual charity fashion show, which began on Tyneside in 2004, has raised thousands of pounds for it.

That he has joined forces with Sir Bobby’s Foundation is another indication of the esteem in which the former England manager was held throughout football. Given added: “I was touched by Sir Bobby and by cancer myself, losing my mum when I was five.

“It is something extremely close to my heart. It is nice to have helped a little bit.

“Bobby Robson deserves a lot of credit for the work he did.

“To leave something behind that other people can use like that is brilliant.

“The response of the Newcastle people to his charity has been phenomenal. It speaks volume for the way he was regarded by everyone and just shows how big a legend he was.

“I would have loved to have been there, and he was probably looking down wishing he could be there too.”

The quiet area is a comfortable space for visitors and patients to relax between appointments with books, a television, and information about cancer.

Since its launch in 2008, the Foundation has raised an extraordinary £3.3m to help find more effective treatments for cancer patients in the North East and Cumbria, but always needs more.

To make a donation visit www.sirbobbyrobsonfoundation.org.uk or send a cheque to Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, Room 203, Cheviot Court, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle NE7 7DN.

Journalists

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