How a United Legend Started Life as a Sunderland Fan; He's Been Described as Mr Newcastle United Because of His Legendary Status in the History of the Club. but as a Lad Stan Seymour Senior Supported Sunderland. MIKE KELLY Looks Back at His Life and Career

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Byline: MIKE KELLY

IF you were to draw up a top 10 list of the most important figures in the history of Newcastle United, Stan Seymour Senior would have a strong argument to being number one.

As a player in the 1920s he was a free scoring winger in the championship winning team which included the likes of Hughie Gallacher.

Then in his time as director and manager he helped turn the postwar Second Division Newcastle United into the fabled 1950s FA Cup winning machine. He became a board member, chairman and in 1976 was made life president. He died in 1978.

Asked directly if Stan Seymour Snr was the most important figure in Newcastle United's history, club historian Paul Joannou pauses for a moment's thought. "It's a very diffi-cult question," he said. "In terms of his contribution to Newcastle both on the field and offyou'd have to say he would be in the top three."

Born in Kelloe, County Durham, in the 1890s, as a lad he was not a Black and White but a Black Cats fan.

Paul said: "I've been researching for Ultimate Newcastle website and book and I came across his admission in some 1930s press clippings. He said as a kid he supported Sunderland because he was born in Kelloe."

However, according to Paul, he later redeemed himself in the eyes of Toon fans by failing to turn up for a Sunderland trial while choosing to go to one at Newcastle which took place in 1909. He was rejected.

Instead he ended up playing for Greenock Morton in Scotland where he made his name before being signed for the then princely sum of PS2,500 by Newcastle in 1920.

He soon became a huge hit with fans thanks to his rampaging runs down the left wing and healthy goal scoring record, helping the club to finish 5th in the league.

As a team regular, he played a starring role in Newcastle's 1924 FA Cup run, scoring a thunderous volley against Aston Villa in the final at Wembley to clinch the trophy. He was, as mentioned earlier, a member of the last Newcastle United team to win the title of the top division in 1927.

However, two years later Seymour left the club after scoring 73 goals in 242 games following a dispute over wages and a testimonial match.

He opened a sports shop in Newcastle and became a successful business man.

By 1938 the club was struggling and memories of the championship winning team of Stan's era had become distant ones.

Not only had Newcastle United been relegated to Division Two - the equivalent of the Championship today - it was struggling at the bottom of the table too.

The club looked to bring in new blood in the board room to turn its fortunes around.

Seymour, living on Tyneside, was writing columns for the Evening Chronicle as well as being a successful businessman.

With his football brain and business acumen, it was decided Stan was the man.

Paul said: "He came into the club in the 1938/39 season and helped revive its fortunes a bit. Then World War Two intervened."

Seymour used the period to rebuild the club. New, young, hungry players were brought into the team like Jackie Milburn, Charlie Crowe and Charlie Wayman.

"Seymour was the catalyst for this," said Paul. "He brought them through in the war years. In the 1946/47 season the club was still in the old Second Division but they had a good nucleus of young players."

For a time Seymour was 'honorary manager' in Paul's words because of his position on the board until an official manager in the form of George Martin was brought in.

He returned in 1950 for a second stint and in the next four years the club won the FA Cup twice before in 1954 Doug Livingstone was brought in as permanent manager. …