Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

In My View

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

In My View

Article excerpt

Byline: By Joyce Quin

During my time as Member of Parliament for Gateshead East and Washington West I was well aware that the subject of football in my constituency was one about which a diplomatic silence on my part was advisable.

Why? Well the constituency was almost evenly divided between Newcastle United and Sunderland AFC supporters, each equally passionate about their own team.

Indeed I remember the former Conservative leader, Iain Duncan Smith, coming to give a speech in the Washington part of my constituency and looking puzzled and pained that his complimentary remarks about Newcastle United seemed to be receiving what could most kindly be described as a "mixed reception". He clearly had not been briefed on the football realities of the area he was visiting.

While a passionate attachment to a sporting team and through that a pride in a particular town or locality is understandable and admirable such "tribal" loyalties should not blind us to the importance (in terms of our common future prosperity and quality of life) of promoting the attractions of our region as a whole.

In this connection, although I am a voluntary Newcastle City Guide, and conduct ( with huge enjoyment ( a number of walking tours around the city each August, I was very sorry to read last week about claims that the region's other great city ( Sunderland ( had an image problem.

This certainly should be far from the case. Sunderland, like Newcastle, has a proud and stirring past. It was an important cultural and spiritual centre of the ancient kingdom of Northumbria; it has played a significant economic part in our country's history with a tradition of building fine ships since 1400 at least and it has also established a national reputation in other areas such as glass making, and more recently, of course, car production, with the world-beating Nissan plant. In population terms it is the North-East's biggest city. It is also a great place for visitors to explore and to discover lesser known gems such as the splendid Victorian suburb of Ashbrooke and that cathedral of the Arts and Crafts movement, St Andrew's Church in Roker. …

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