THEY might not be in the same league as the FA Cup or even the Carling Cup, but the cuppas Kath Cassidy has been serving up to Newcastle United’s managers for almost half a century are always welcome.
With 45 years’ practice under her belt, Kath has got the art of pouring brews down to a tea, so she has no intention of giving up now, despite having just turned 85.
The veteran tea lady is shunning retirement to carry on catering for staff and players at St James’s Park.
Despite having suffered two heart attacks and a stroke over the years, Kath, of Battle Hill in Wallsend, is still going strong and refuses to miss a home game.
“I love Newcastle United, and this is the best job in the world. Why would I stop?” she asked.
“I live by the three F’s – and they’re not rude – faith, family and football, although not necessarily in that order.”
The grandmother of 13 lists Kevin Keegan and Graeme Souness as her favourite managers to date.
“I’ve met them all. Some are nicer than others, but they have all been lovely to me,” she said.
“The current boss, Alan Pardew, is lovely, Graeme Souness gave me his tie to wear, and Alan Shearer is a very kind and generous man and once he gave me £10,000 for a charity I was helping.
“Shearer is a real Geordie through and through. He would be great as a manager, but I don’t know that they’d give him a chance.
“Kevin Keegan was my favourite, though. When he came back I said to him ‘I’ve died and gone to heaven’, and he laughed.”
When her beloved team plays away, she always makes sure she watches on television – and she has only missed a handful of games ever.
Even though she is a die-hard Toon fan, Kath has never actually seen a home game as she has always been working.
“My daughter once booked a family holiday to Ireland, and I couldn’t get to St James’s Park,” she recalled. “Of course, it was when we beat Manchester United 5-0. Everyone was telling me to stay away for the games after that.
“I’ve never seen a match at home. They’ve offered me an executive box, but I’m always working, so I’ve not had a chance to go yet.”
She might have got used to managers coming and going in quick succession, but there is one change Kath can’t get the hang of – St James’s Park’s rebranding as the Sports Direct Arena.
“I will never call it anything other than St James’s Park. That’s what it has always been, and there’s no other name for it,” she insisted.