Culture Trip 4: St James’ Park Tour

My family are black and white Newcastle United fans  through and through, especially my Dad and brother as they have season tickets they never miss a game. I go the occasional game when I can but I don’t get to visit the wonderful stadium that is St James’ Park as often as I should.

So when I realised that there are tours available I jumped at the chance to go.

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My tour was led by the great tour guide, Richard. Where we started at the highest point of the stadium at Level 7 and what a view it was, not only of the  pitch itself but of the North East. They call it the Magpie View where you can see The Sage,  Tyne Bridge, Millennium Bridge, The Baltic, Leazes Park, Civic Centre and The North Sea and what a view it was.

To be standing in St James’s Park that has a capacity of 52,420 where some fans call it God’s ground was overwhelming but I also felt proud to be from the North East and privileged to be standing at such a beautiful stadium.

It can only get better

From the top we obviously work our way down and according to Richard it could only get better from there.

During the tour I learn that the stadium was built in three stages, the East stand was built in 1972, the West stand, North and South stand were built in 1996.  It can’g go any higher due to building regulations, St James’ is located near the old university buildings and they are protected by National Heritage which means they can not build any higher than them.

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As we went down level by level, the stadium to me just become more beautiful and rather posh as we got to sit in the directors seats and visit the exec boxes.

The Legends

So I sat down in the directors section listening to Richard talking more about the history of the stadium and of the club , the seats in this section of the ground are really comfortable in comparison to the standard seats.  And as I got up I realised who’s seat I was sitting on, it was of course the legend himself who is sadly now up in heaven- Sir Bobby Robson.  He would sit down on that very seat and watch a football match, I felt very proud and a little emotional when I found out. If you ask any Geordie who is Bobby Robson they will all say, not only was he the manager of Newcastle United but he was true legend on the North East. I remember when he passed away in 2009 and fans were allowed to pay their respects by putting flowers in the stadium and I remember the whole ground being covered in flowers, cards, football shirts.

Usually the ground is filled with noise from the fans singing but that day the whole place was silent you could hear a pin drop, us Geordies have so much respect for Sir Bobby Robson.  I will never forget that day.

 

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I met Rafa the Gaffa 😉

Speaking of legends and Newcastle United managers I bumped into the one and only Rafa Benitez whilst on the tour. Yes I caught him sitting down in the ground thinking about the next match that was going to be played with Burton.

Though he was rather smaller in person 😉

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HAHA of course that isn’t the real Rafa, this is a peg doll that was made by Zo Flo and Mo . I bought it for my Dad but I decided to take it with me during the tour, I took many a photo of mini raffa in the stadium which you can see on my Social Media pages. It brought a lot of fun to the people on the tour.

Access All Areas

In the classic tour you really do get to access all the areas, you get to visit the home and away dressing rooms (there is a vast difference). You get to experience what it is like a sports journalist and visit the media room. You also get to go the pitch and get up close to the dugouts where Rafa stands.

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But the best bit for me was getting to walk out the players tunnel to Local Hero and walk to the pitch just like a NUFC Player.  When I did that I truly felt like a football player, I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck and tears start to well up.

I am glad I visited St James’ Park, it made me really proud to be a Geordie.

The class tour lasts 90 mins and is £15.00 for an adult.

For more information about the stadium tours click here 

For more Culture Trip blogs click here 

I’m just going to leave you with the one of the best songs in the world.

 

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