Seventh heaven as TJ's returning

Newcastle Eagles have pulled off a major coup by luring their legendary point guard TJ Walker back to Tyneside for a seventh successive season.

Newcastle Eagles have pulled off a major coup by luring their legendary point guard TJ Walker back to Tyneside for a seventh successive season.

After turning his back on retirement and mulling over more lucrative offers in Sweden and Israel, there was an anxious wait whilst the man nicknamed "The Daddy" considered his future.

Having exclusively broken the news last month that Walker was interested in a return, the Chronicle can now reveal that a deal has been completed and fans can now look forward to what will be an emotional return.

There will no doubt be a palpable mixture of relief and excitement amongst supporters, although perhaps even more so from player-coach Fab Flournoy, who was facing a wholesale rebuilding programme after the loss of several senior players.

That task now looks to have eased a little with Walker back to pull the strings, something the play-caller was quick to point out.

He said: "TJ is the general of my army. He sets the tempo of the team in more ways than anyone could imagine. With TJ back in the team we are halfway there.

"This is one of the biggest signings that this club will make not only this season, but perhaps ever - it is that important to us.

"In fact, it is just too difficult to even put into words exactly what he represents and what he will bring to the team.

"Then again, I probably don't have to explain because most people already know his value to us, and if anybody doesn't then they will soon find out."

You certainly have to admire both Flournoy and managing director Paul Blake for their persistence and steadfast pursuit of Walker, who headed back to California in May intending to retire from the game.

The pair have not given Walker a moment's rest and now that the influential guard is back on the roster, there may also be a shock U-turn in terms of the Jeremy Hyatt situation.

It had looked as if Clemson graduate Shawan Robinson would be joining the club sometime next week, but Walker's return may now mean a sensational late reprieve for Hyatt, who was sacked in April.

Understandably, Flournoy was being guarded last night and has pleaded for some patience whilst he makes the vital decision as to who will partner Walker in the backcourt.

"I know there are rumours flying around concerning who I have signed and who may be coming back," he said. "I will put all rumours to rest right now.

"I have not signed anyone at this moment in respect of the shooting guard position - neither Jeremy Hyatt, Shawan Robinson or Mike Nurse.

"All the players I have looked at have pros and cons for me. All players also have their own situation that they have to deal with themselves.

"This is what I have to consider, and fans don't often get to see or understand the ins and outs of signing players in terms of the agents, the money, the talent, the importance of character - the list is endless.

"In the nicest possible way I would urge everyone to just let me get on with what is a difficult job."


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