WALLSEND Boys’ Club has been given thousands of pounds by the Heritage Lottery Fund so it can secure its place in sporting history.
The project has already got the thumbs-up from two of the club’s most illustrious old boys, Alan Shearer and Michael Carrick, and is sure to be given a warm welcome by football fans across the north east too.
The club plans to publish a book telling the club’s history stretching back more than a century.
It will begin in 1904, when the club’s predecessor, a group for apprentices at the old Swan Hunter shipyard in Wallsend, was set up, take the tale through to 1938, when the club was founded in its current form, and continue right up to the present day.
The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded the club £36,000 to spend on a book including stories, facts and images from throughout its 107-year history
The project will also allow around 2,500 primary school children to learn about the history of the club as part of their curriculum.
It will also visit care homes to record the memories of older generations with experiences of the club.
On top of that, the club will hold a series of workshops to offer other members of the community the chance to tell their stories about the club.
Former Newcastle United and England legend Shearer said: “It was actually because Wallsend already had such a positive history and heritage that my schoolmaster Jimmy Nelson recommended me to join them when I was a young lad.
“I think it is fantastic that this rich history is eventually going to be recorded in a book with the valuable support of the Heritage Lottery Fund.
“I am sure there will be enormous interest in how this club has played such a valuable role in the lives of so many Tyneside youngsters, while at the same time consistently producing so many quality footballers over the decades.
“I’m certainly looking forward to reading the whole history.”
Wallsend-born Manchester United midfielder Carrick said: “I started going to the boys’ club when I was five years old on a Saturday night playing five-a-side football, and later on four nights a week and was on the members’ committee.
“The boys’ club is doing great work regarding the positive futures of the young people in the community.
“I would like to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for their financial assistance in helping to publish this book and for keeping the heritage of the boys’ club going for the foreseeable future.”
Margaret Scott, of Tyne Metropolitan College, will help compile the book with co-authors Vince Carrick, Michael’s dad, and Michael McGill. She said: “In 2003, we were asked by the committee to produce a booklet on the history of Wallsend Boys’ Club.
“With help from local press, former members, a number of founder members from 1938 that came forward, photos, documents, programmes and history societies, we soon built up a large dossier of invaluable information.
“Without the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund, our 107 years of fascinating history would be lost to the public domain”
Other former members of the club include ex-Newcastle United heroes Peter Beardsley, Lee Clark, Steve Watson and Robbie Elliott, as well as Sunderland manager Steve Bruce.