Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Toon Fans Have a Ball; Youngsters Get to See Their Heroes Practise on the Pitch in Free Footy Event

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Toon Fans Have a Ball; Youngsters Get to See Their Heroes Practise on the Pitch in Free Footy Event

Article excerpt

Byline: By AMY HUNT

THEY were over the Toon to see their black and white heroes on the pitch.

Young Newcastle United fans watched their heroes in action for free at St James's Park as Kevin Keegan put his squad through their paces at an open training session.

New signing Jonas Gutierrez joined long-time Magpies such as Steven Taylor, Shay Given, Alan Smith and Geremi for training ahead of the club's away game against Manchester United this weekend.

And fans were thrilled to see injured striker Michael Owen taking part in a gentle jog around the turf, before leaving his team-mates to complete their more strenuous session.

About 12,000 parents and children watched as players practised passing, shooting, pace, stamina and movement, finishing with a mini match.

A keepie-up competition and a performance from freestylers Billy Wingrove and Jeremy Lynch, who showed off their soccer skills, warmed up the crowd for the main event.

Six lucky winners were also presented with a ball signed by manager Kevin Keegan. Andy Cuthbertson, 27, and wife Danielle, 23, brought their two-year-old son Joe to watch the squad, sporting his brand new purple away shirt.

Andy, of Newbiggin Hall, said: "I was here for the Valencia game the other day and got the little 'un his new top. With all the entertainment we thought this would be more fun than a usual game and John Beresford's been great with the kids."

Toon barmy Jason Pollock, eight, from Heaton, came to St James's Park with his mum Lesleyann, cousin Briony Nelson, eight, and her mum Shauna Nelson.

He said: "I love Newcastle, I have got a few strips. I came today to see Keegan and the players. Obafemi Martins is my favourite player."

Friends Tony Gregorio, 10, and Connor Docherty, 11, from Elswick, came to watch their heroes. Tony, whose favourite players are Michael Owen and James Milner, said: "We've come to have a good day, watch the players train and hopefully get on the pitch. …

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