Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Stan Went a Long Way towards Helping to Unearth the Story of a True North Sporting Legend

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Stan Went a Long Way towards Helping to Unearth the Story of a True North Sporting Legend

Article excerpt

WHILE Arthur McKenzie is the acclaimed script writer of The Black Callant he readily gives much credit for the unearthing of a truly great Tyneside sporting hero to athletics coach and friend Stan Long.

He smiled: "I honestly think the way we gathered our deep knowledge of James Rowan is almost as fascinating as the man himself.

"I had known Stan since I was 16, he was a fabulous, much under-rated coach and a true man of the people.

"I helped the groundsman at Gateshead devise the first discus circle - Stan was always taking the mickey about it being a circus event!

"Anyway, one day Stan said 'You are supposed to be a writer. Why don't you write about this kid?' and threw over a tiny, browning cutting from a local paper. It was about James Rowan and his world record but said little else.

"I was as intrigued as Stan and we used to meet regularly and go to the Gateshead Library to pore through their old records.

"We eventually found a few references and discovered his father was a shoe mender in Gateshead and that Rowan ran up here in London and in America.

"At last some flesh was being put on the skeleton."

Being a detective by profession, McKenzie was hooked.

He rummaged through the local telephone directory, phoning up all the Rowans in the Gateshead area and beyond "with no luck apart from one old guy who claimed he was a distant relative." Next detectives McKenzie and Long placed an advert in the Gateshead weekly newspaper of the time.

He added: "We asked if anyone knew where James Rowan was buried with Stan the contact number.

"Two weeks later, bingo, we hit the jackpot. Rowan was buried in the Gateshead East Cemetery.

"A lady from the parks and cemeteries department actually found his death certificate.

"He died of consumption in Liddles Yard. …

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