"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.