I really never thought the opportunity would arise to write a single blog post about both my passions at the same time – that’s housing and Newcastle United. You have to admit it’s an unlikely combination, but writing it has cheered me up after last week’s defeat at Fulham.
The slightly tortuous link is that current Newcastle Manager Alan Pardew has opened Four Housing Group’s new £2.7m Sports and Social Integration Academy in Gateshead.
The Academy has been developed in conjunction with Gateshead Council and Gateshead Redheugh junior football club, which has 18 teams from age 6 to 19 playing in leagues or friendlies. It is well known for producing top talent, including Paul Gascoigne.
The Academy will house 16-25 year old young people who are currently homeless, with 24-hour support provided by the Cyrenians, and will provide sporting facilities for residents and the local community.
Pardew said: “It’s a real honour to open the Academy. I genuinely believe the project will not only help improve the lives of people in the city but also provide opportunities for developing home-grown talent. That’s something we’re really passionate about at Newcastle United so it’s great to see initiatives like this. You never know, the next Steven Taylor could result from this project.”
The Redheugh Club will provide high quality sporting facilities including four full fixed football pitches and changing rooms. Eventually an all weather 3G pitch will be available for use, as well as badminton courts, boxing and table tennis facilities which will be open to all members of Gateshead’s communities.
So this story provides a unique opportunity to include a photo of Pardew opening the Centre with some fine gentlemen of a similar stature to my own.
And as a gratuitous extra, here’s a photo of NewcastleGateshead’s very fine bridges.