Friday, 27 May 2011

Football Art: Sir Bobby Robson

"There was never another club for me when I was growing up. My father was a Newcastle supporter all his life. I grew up watching men like Jackie Milburn and Len Shackleton. They were my heroes…If my dad had known I was going to be manager one day, he wouldn't have believed it. He'd have been so proud. He would have somersaulted all the way to the games.”

“Very fitting,” said Lady Elsie Robson, unveiling the Sir Bobby Robson Memorial Garden on the day Newcastle United played another of his former sides, West Bromwich Albion. Between the remnants of the town’s medieval defensive walls and the cantilevered back of the Gallowgate End, the garden stands on the old site of the Carnegie Electric building, opposite the Tyneside Irish Centre and Newcastle’s Chinese arch, with four trees backing on to a billboard and sandstone walls pointing back towards the corner of St Andrew’s Street and Gallowgate Road.

Five white limestone blocks capture parts of a career which began at Langley Park pit and later took in honours at home and abroad, the freedom of three cities and the establishment of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, which to date has raised more than £3.3 million towards developing treatments for cancer patients. Sculpted by Graeme Mitcheson, the blocks are placed along a wide gravel pathway. One lists the club sides he played for and managed, another his achievements with England: four goals in twenty appearances, “the World Cup quarter finals in Mexico ’86 and the semi finals at Italia ’90”.

“I just think my father would have been amazed that a memorial garden has been set up in the centre of Newcastle, particularly in the shadow of St James’ Park,” said Andrew Robson, the second of Sir Bobby's three sons. Like his hero Jackie Milburn, whose statue now stands in St James' Boulevard, the stories of the miner's son from Sacriston, County Durham will endure for generations of Newcastle fans to come.


  1. Sir Bobby’s last public appearance in Ipswich (May 2008) was for a parade and party to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Town’s FA Cup win. Monday night (May 30, 2011) his Boys of ’81 were back in Ipswich to celebrate 30 years since Town won the UEFA Cup – without doubt the best side he put together during his thirteen years in Suffolk and a side very very unlucky not to do a treble of UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Championship. Sadly the great man was not at the Town Hall to celebrate with them. Anyway, good to hear that there is another public monument in his memory and this one in his native North East.

  2. I came across a lovely story recently about Sir Bobby taking the '78 FA Cup back to Langley Park and displaying it in a supermarket window. Can't imagine that happening nowadays. A great man indeed.