I’ve had the weekend to reflect on the death of Sir Bobby Robson on Friday. It was very sad to lose such a great man who touched so many people’s lives all around the world – this was overwhelmingly evident when I visited St. James’ Park yesterday (Sunday), the popularity of the man is something to be cherished and to take comfort from. The pictures with this post show the extraordinary temporary shrine that has and still is being amassed at the Leazes End of St. James’ Park, I took some of the pictures myself which is why they’re artistically angled.
Even in death you could still feel Bobby’s presence and his infectious personality shone through in every testimony, picture and message. With his generosity and humility I could imaging Bobby looking on from above and wondering what all the fuss was about. Of all the endearing qualities that Bobby had, the one that stood out for me was the way he made everyone feel special, and that is why he was one of the greatest coaches of all time, he had a great working ethos even up until his very last days – It was typical of him that he fulfilled his last public engagement before he passed away, ever willing to put others before himself and that is something that we should all learn from.
I met Sir Bobby many times after he belatedly took the helm at NUFC, he was always interested in my career and was surprisingly knowledgeable about my sport. I shouldn’t have expected any less but I know all too well that many top sports people are very blinkered and single-minded, however Bobby quite uniquely combined being successful in sport with being utterly approachable and like able. His wife Elsie would always say that she never saw him because when he wasn’t working he was out doing appearances and attending events.
Maybe the one regret I, like many Geordies, have is that we didn’t get to spend more time with Bobby at the helm of his beloved Newcastle United, and I’m sure Bobby regrets the way it ended as does everyone involved. The tragic state of the club today makes a mockery of sacking Bobby, it was a cruel ending, one that least befitted Bobby’s character, and both fans and players alike should hold their hands up to being a part of that cruel demise. However Bobby set an example of not dwelling on the bad things in life and he will be remembered best by me for building a team that took us right back to the top of European football, and he gave me the best experience of my footballing life in the San Siro when we battered a top-class Inter Milan side and unluckily came out with a 2-2 draw – one word, marvellous!
The loss of Bobby is immensely sad, but we must take inspiration from his life and the way he approached every challenge. I’ve had quite a challenge to throw a club very far since Crystal Palace, I competed last Wednesday and threw 29.10m but it was a bit of a write-off as I felt terrible. Have been taking it a bit easier and am feeling better. I’m chucking at the BWAA Nationals on Saturday and am looking forward to it – I’m just taking it one competition at a time until I hear something about my hip. Meanwhile, hear’s a couple of pics of me with the BBC’s Tony Garrett at Crystal Palace.