A popular figure working behind the scenes at Newcastle United has blown the full-time whistle on a career stretching back over half a century.
Tea lady Kath Cassidy has stepped down from her matchday duties at St James’s Park after 52 years’ service.
She has served tea to dozens of Newcastle United heroes over the years – including Sir Bobby Robson, Alan Shearer and Kevin Keegan – as well as opposition managers and hundreds of journalists.
Kath, 88, of Wallsend, was joined by her family as special guests at United’s home game against Norwich City last Sunday to celebrate her outstanding service since 1963.
Tributes have been pouring in for Kath.
Current Magpies manager Steve McClaren said: “I haven’t seen Kath this season, but I remember her well from my visits with Middlesbrough.
“Always happy and welcoming, I wish you the very best in your retirement and thank you on behalf of the club for your incredible service in making the perfect cup of tea for myself, fellow managers and members of the media.”
Former owner Sir John Hall added: “Kath’s cup of tea was always perfect in my day, and I thank her profusely for the dedication she has given to Newcastle United.”
Former player and manager Keegan said: “Many, many thanks for the way you looked after me during my times at St James’s Park. Players can be replaced, managers can be replaced, but people like you, Kath, are irreplaceable. Enjoy your retirement.”
Shearer saidd: “Thanks, Kath. Everyone knows that two things make a football club – the fans and the tea lady – and we had the best of both.
“Always there with a kind word and friendly smile, it won’t be the same without you. Good luck in retirement.”
Ex-player Peter Beardsley said: “There have been many heroes down the years at St James’s Park, but you have been the real legend.”
“I remember in the 1990s when Kevin was here, we always thought we’d win when we saw you before the game.
“Loved by all, I wish you the very best in your retirement.”
Former boss, and now in charge at Crystal Palace, Alan Pardew added: “Kath is more than just a tea lady. She is a larger-than-life character who could have graced any situation.
“I loved her as a real friend, she always had a kind word or a friendly joke whatever the situation.
“She is real north east gem that anyone who met her would testify.
“Her family are just as lovely and I wish her and them a very happy retirement.”