The Exiles

Here is everything you might ever want to know about The Exiles – and 3 CDs worth of songs about Newcastle United – featuring lyrics by Alan Millen and music by Tim Readman … and a ton of great stories. Scroll down the page to see it all.
For videos of the songs go here:
http://www.youtube.com/user/exvancouver?feature=plcp
Introducing: … at St. James’ Park, a new CD from The Exiles
Newcastle/Vancouver/Zurich, December 2012: The new CD of Toon Army tunes by The Exiles consists of no fewer than 17 tracks spanning a century of Newcastle United history. The disc opens and closes with the two songs collaborators Tim Readman in Vancouver and Alan Millen in Zurich originally composed and recorded in support of Mark Allison (Run Geordie Run) and his epic fundraising trek across the USA in the summer of 2011. The songs remain current ahead of the run across Australia that Mark will undertake toward the end of 2013. In between these opening and closing tracks are 15 songs in a wide variety of styles that commemorate various memorable moments and personalities in Newcastle United history, all viewed through the eyes of lifelong fans. All of the songs were recorded in Vancouver and showcase the combined studio talents of Tim Readman and co-producer Bill Buckingham.

Alan says: “Including the two songs for fellow NUFC supporter Mark Allison brings our total output of Newcastle United songs to 47. This figure corresponds nicely to one song per minute of a half of football. As on the two earlier releases, the lyrics in the third instalment of our football folk opera again explore a range of moods between joy and dismay while the variety of musical styles and colourings covers a wide spectrum: from flat-out, passionate rock and roll to heartfelt folk ballad, angry protest song and music hall whimsy. Thanks to our association with Mark Allison we’re delighted to present a selection of songs for Geordies to run across America to.”

Tim says: “We had so much fun recording these songs. There are more styles of music than ever before and it feels good to keep the saga of our beloved football club going. As a collection, The First Eleven (and three on the bench), …and 50,000 in the Stands, and …at St. James’ Park have captured some unforgettable moments both football and music-wise.”

THE EXILES CONTACT NUFC LEGEND VIC KEEBLE
Here’s a cool story from the quirky world of The Exiles, whose new CD “… at St. James’ Park” will roll out in mid-December … too late for Christmas shopping but just in time for the January sales!!!

Back in 1955 my dad and grandad attended the FA Cup Final at Wembley, which NUFC won by a score of 3-1. The last surviving player from that trophy winning team is forward Vic Keeble, now 82 years old. He wore the number 9 shirt for Newcastle in 1955-56 and 1956-57 scoring 69 goals in 121 appearances before moving on to West Ham United.

Now then …. the voice of The Exiles, Tim Readman, has relatives who live in France who just happen to be friends with the younger brother of Vic Keeble. Earlier this month we were alerted to this fact and encouraged to consider writing a tribute song about Vic. No sooner said than done. It’s too late for the new album but will certainly be on Exiles IV, whenever that day comes.

In the meantime though, the lyrics to “Next Time You See Vic Keeble” have been sent to Vic’s brother for relay to Vic. We were delighted to receive this feedback:

“Thanks for sending me the poem for Vic. I think it is great and I am sure Vic will really appreciate it. Although he played for West Ham as well, I know his first love was always Newcastle,so he will love it to think that people still have fond memories of his time there. Please pass on my thanks to the lads (Tim and Alan ) for their efforts and sentiments ( obviously true supporters of the team and of the game.)”

How’s that for things coming full circle between May 1955 and November 2012?

THE EXILES: SOMETHING FOR THE TOON ARMY TO REALLY SING ABOUT
http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/north-east-news/evening-chronicle-news/2011/03/04/expats-make-songs-to-raise-cash-for-charity-72703-28279664/

THE EXILES: Songs for Newcastle United Fans at home and away
For more information about The Exiles, see www.myspace.com/magpiexiles
All the songs can be sampled and purchased from the ‘BUY MUSIC’ page here or at:
http://cdbaby.com/cd/theexiles1 – The 1st Eleven (and 3 on the bench)
http://cdbaby.com/cd/theexiles2 – …and 50,000 in the Stands
http://www.cdbaby.com/Search/cnVuIGdlb3JkaWUgcnVu/0 OR  http://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/run-geordie-run-single/id361829604 –  Run Geordie Run (songs supporting Mark Allison charity project)

The 1st Eleven (And Three on the Bench) (2003) and its follow-up And 50,000 In The Stands (2007) are the result of a collaboration by Tim Readman – composer, singer, guitarist and in 2008 and 2009 the artistic director of the Vancouver Celtic Music Festival – and lyricist Alan Millen, both lifelong supporters of the “Magpies”.
Originally from the North East of England, Tim Readman has lived in Vancouver since 1987, where he is an active participant in the local music scene. Alan Millen was born in the same part of the world as Tim but grew up in Canada with a deep sense of Geordie heritage and a close affinity for all things Newcastle United, through good times and bad. He also lived in Vancouver for a number of years but left in 1987, the year Tim arrived there, and has lived in Switzerland since.

Through the magic of the Internet, Tim and Alan hooked up in the summer of 2002, quickly developed a common bond and set out to celebrate their team and the Toon Army in song. One year later 14 completed tunes were in the bag. The songs on 1st Eleven (And Three on the Bench) feature Tim on guitar and vocals, with some fine accompaniment on violin, accordion, flute, keyboards and various other instruments by musical all-rounder and studio engineer Victor Smith, also of Vancouver.

Among the famous players celebrated in The First Eleven are Alan Shearer, whose club goalscoring record serves as the perfect backdrop for “Goals To Newcastle”. Peter Beardsley, Jackie Milburn, Paul Gascoigne, Frank Clark and Tony Green are also celebrated for their individual exploits. But the CD is just as much about the fans as their footballing heroes.  Other songs relate the emotional rollercoaster of the 1976 League Cup Final, memories of standing on the terraces and the thrill of meeting one’s future wife at St. James’s Park. Also explored are the nostalgic feelings of Geordies who have emigrated and settled elsewhere but still retain a deep affection for “their glory days down by the River Tyne”. Since its launch in October 2003, the CD has been played on BBC Newcastle, CBC Vancouver and several other Canadian radio stations.

The Exiles “returned” in a manner of speaking in 2007 with a second album of songs by, for and about the global Toon Army. Entitled And 50,000 In The Stands, the most recent album picks up where their debut left off and takes the passion to an even higher level. The 16 new songs that cover various moments in the history of Newcastle United, ranging through time from the pre-war days of the legendary Hughie Gallagher  right up to the 2006-7 season.

Among the players and memorable moments saluted this time around are the trip to the 1998 F.A. Cup Final in the song “So Far From Whitley Bay”, which relates the tale of a father-and-son journey to Wembley and the anticipation and reflection that takes place as kick-off time approaches. Tino Asprilla’s unforgettable hat-trick against Barcelona in the Champions League, the excitement surrounding Michael Owen’s arrival on Tyneside, the heart-tugging return of “Prodigal Son” Lee Clark, the November 2005 victory over archrival Sunderland in the Tyne-Wear derby, and the atmosphere around Alan Shearer’s testimonial match are all covered with customary flair. Guitarist and vocalist Tim Readman has again teamed up with versatile musician and producer Victor Smith to bring the lyrical ideas of partner Alan Millen to life.

With the completion of the second CD, their “football folk opera” repertoire now consists of no fewer than 30 songs. Material for a third CD is in development.

Selected media coverage:
CBC Radio Vancouver “North By Northwest” (Tim Readman interview and airplay) October 2003
BBC Tyne website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/tyne/worldwide_geordies/exiles.shtml
BBC Radio Newcastle “Sport Talk” (Alan Millen interview and airplay) March 2004
NUFC match-day programme, August 24, 2006 (Alan / My Memorable Match column)
Newcastle Chronicle, June 11, 2007, full-page article, page 3
CBC Radio Vancouver “North By Northwest” (Tim and Alan interview and airplay) September 2007
NUFC match-day programme, December 28, 2008
NUFC official club magazine, February 2009
Newcastle Chronicle, September 4, 2009, full-page coverage of “Man of the People”, our song for Sir Bobby Robson
Newcastle Chronicle, March 2011, coverage of the 2 songs for charity Runner Mark Allison http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/north-east-news/evening-chronicle-news/2011/03/04/expats-make-songs-to-raise-cash-for-charity-72703-28279664/
THE EXILES CONNECT WITH THE TOON ARMY WORLDWIDE

 One of the most rewarding aspects of The Exiles’ musical celebration of Newcastle United has been contact with supporters all over the world. Since the release of “The First Eleven (and 3 on the bench)” in 2003, “And 50,000 in the Stands in 2007” and the YouTube/MySpace posting of Man of the People, our tribute song to Sir Bobby Robson, we have had the good fortune to correspond with various kindred spirits not only across the UK but also across Europe, North and South America and Australia.

We also make a point of looking out for news stories about NUFC supporters around the world. Whenever we come across one, we try our best to get in touch and send free copies of our two CDs to acknowledge their dedication to the black-and-white cause.

What follows is Alan’s summary of these remarkable encounters.

Sir Bobby Robson

Shortly after Sir Bobby was dismissed by the club a mere four games into the 2004-05 season, we sent him a copy of our first CD, simply to say thanks for all he had done for NUFC during his time in charge. In mid-October I received a one-page, hand-written letter from Sir Bobby thanking me for the CD and reminiscing about his time in Vancouver as coach of the Vancouver Royals in 1967. “I envy Tim Readman for living in Vancouver,” he wrote. We were absolutely delighted by his message. When he passed away at the end of July 2009, I wrote the lyrics to “Man of the People” within a couple of days. By the end of August we posted a video of the song on YouTube which has since been viewed many times. A studio version can be heard at www.myspace.com/magpiexiles.
Man of the people video – http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=62314072

 Mark Allison, charity runner

In 2007 I heard about the fundraising efforts of charity runner and fellow supporter Mark Allison, who at that point was en route from John O’Groats to Land’s End. I was able to get in touch with Mark while he was still in Scotland and arranged to send copies of both CDs to him at his home in County Durham. He reported back that our music help him to “keep his spirit level high” as he made his way down the length of England and completed his run on behalf of St. Benedict’s Hospice. In August of that year my sister and I attended Newcastle’s home opener against Aston Villa and I was delighted to observe Mark make a lap of honour at half-time, kitted out in Newcastle United strip no less. I made quite a big deal out of telling my sister Heather “I know that guy” (which was technically not true). In 2008 I heard about Mark’s plans to run 3100 miles across the USA in 100 days in 2011. He approached us with the idea of having us write a theme song in support of his grand adventure.  We jumped at this opportunity to help his fundraising efforts for St. Benedict’s Hospice and The Children’s Foundation. (See www.rungeordierun.com for more information). After Mark approved the lyrics, we recorded two songs: “Runner on a Lonely Road” and “Beneath The Angels Wings Once More”, which can be downloaded via: (http://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/run-geordie-run-single/id361829604). All funds generated go directly to the charities.

I had the privilege of meeting Mark in person in September 2009 in Newcastle. The Exiles are following his preparations with great interest and eagerly looking forward to May 2011 when he starts his trek from Huntingdon Beach, California, to Coney Island, New York.

Another fan named Mark

Following the nightmare season of 2008-09, the Geordie Nation was able to celebrate an immediate return to the Premiership that concluded with a Championship winning match at Plymouth Argyle. YouTube clips of the post-match celebration on the field came to our attention, including a couple in which Tim Readman’s version of The Blaydon Races could be heard over the public address system at Home Park www.youtube.com/exvancouver includes a couple of 30-second clips). Among the responses to the YouTube clips was one by a fan named mark who was trying to find out more about Tim’s recording of the famous song. I was able to get in touch with through the YouTube message system. He responded as follows:

“Thanks for your message. Searched nearly the whole web to get this version to keep a good memory of the match and pitch invasion. Keep up the good work.”

Matthew Eastley, author of “From Bovril to Champagne” (The FA Cup in the Seventies)

Shortly before the 2010 FA Cup Final I got word that author Matthew Eastley (a Charlton Athletic supporter) would be talking about his book as a guest on BBC Radio Newcastle. I tuned in through the Internet and thoroughly enjoyed hearing him reminisce about the cup and what it meant to football fans in the 1970s. I promptly ordered a copy of the book, got in touch with Matthew and sent him a copy of our CDs. The ensuing exchange of e-mails was one of the highlights of the post-season!

Matthew’s comments about our music are particularly pleasing in that he clearly understands what we’re about even though he supports another club.

2010-05-26: “Alan – got your CD yesterday! Absolutely brilliant! Wish I could do something so inspired for Charlton. Love the music and the lyrics. As a bit of a musician myself I can appreciate the difficulty of crafting a song but you’ve done a great job. I have a two-hour drive to do on Saturday and your CD is going straight on for the entire journey!”

 2010-05-30: “Hi Alan – just had to email you and congratulate you on the song ‘Partners in Crime’ – absolutely brilliant. Love the words, the music, the visual depictions. Actually brought a tear to my eye – totally brilliant and thanks for sharing – I take my hat off to you.

I’ve only got as far as song 4 so I will continue listening now!”
We are equally impressed by Matt’s own labour of love and warmly recommend it to anyone wishing to revisit the 1970s era.  In Matt’s own words: “The whole point of the book was to recapture the glory of the FA Cup as seen through the eyes of true football fans. It was clear from your memories that the Cup was massive then compared to the comparative sideshow which it is today”.

Nestor Flores, Chilean journalist investigating the mysterious death in 1971 of former Newcastle player Ted Robledo, brother of George Robledo who scored the winning goal in the 1952 FA Cup Final. The Robledo brothers were originally from Chile, via Bradford.

One truly remarkable connection came about through an article in the Evening Chronicle about the cover art of John Lennon’s solo album Walls And Bridges (released in 1974). It turns out that the image is 11-year-old John’s recreation of the action leading up to George Robledo’s decisive goal. Chilean journalist Nestor Flores provided some input in the article. He is in the process of writing a book about Ted Robledo, who died in mysterious circumstances in 1971 while working on a ship. I contacted Nestor and offered him our CDs. Here is his reply (unedited), dated 4 January 2010:

Hello Alan.
As I say, my English isn’t good that all, but I’m traying to answer you the better way I can. Firstly, I’m sorry for a long time from your mail, bus I was really working a lot. I was the publicist of a Chilean Senator, and in Chile had elections.

But now I have more time and can do other things, like answer you friendly mail. Thanks for writing. When I have the book (December 2010) I’ll write you again to send it, and I’ll be waiting for your CD. Now, I’m translating the Judgment of the Ted Robledo’s murder, in 1971. I’ve talking a lot with Gladys Nissim and Violeta Calé, Jorge and Ted’s widous, respectively. They are telling me a lot of things of her lifes with the two Newcastle players. There’ll be much surprises in the book, good an bad. I don’t want to receive your CD before I send you the book, but I don’t want that you believe that I don’t want to have it. I want to get it and listen it.

I saw your pictures in www.myspace.com/magpiexiles, and listen three or two songs, and I like it. (The songs… not you!, ja, ja, ja). Goals To Newcastle, Man Of The People, The Sing of Blaydon Races, All The Bobby Dazzlers, So Far From Whitley Bay, are very goods songs. But my favorite is The Blaydon Races: an excellent song. Remember me I’ve Just Seen s Face, by The Beatles.

Keep writing.

Thanks for your words and I whish you luck with you work, music projects and all.

Néstor Flores

Jan Radwanski, restorer of historic photographs (www.jan-prints.co.uk)

In the spring of 2010, I heard about an upcoming photo exhibition that really grabbed my interest: 1910 Newcastle United Centenary Exhibition at the Theatre Royal, set for a one-week run at the beginning of April. The more I learned about it the more I sensed that Jan Radwanski, the restorer of these wonderful photos, would be a kindred spirit worth getting in touch with. Jan and I exchanged several e-mails and I was delighted to be able to send him a copy of our CDs.

My cousin Ian who lives in Newcastle made a point of visiting the exhibition and reported back to me enthusiastically. He had a chance to speak with Jan in person on my behalf, which was really satisfying to hear. Ian also sent me a copy of the programme from the exhibition, a much-appreciated memento for my own archives.

Adapted from Jan’s website: “The exhibition comprised more than 50 highly restored images celebrating Newcastle United achieving their 1st FA Cup win April 28th 1910. Jan and Paul Joannou (Official Historian for NUFC) compiled their collection of images to produce this exhibition. The combination of Jan’s restoration skills and Paul’s historic knowledge and writing skills produced an exhibition that offered people a glimpse of the past 100 years ago.”

John Oliver, poet, author of Verses United

When I heard about John’s project to celebrate Newcastle in poetic form, the two magic words “kindred spirit” immediately leapt to mind. We exchanged several e-mails, an excerpt of which appears below:

“Hi Alan, Rec’d your CDs today, Thank you very much it is very good of you to send them to me. And believe me when I say they have found a most welcome home. The timing of their arrival could not have been better as I was just about ready to drive down to Stockton when they dropped through the letter box and within 10 minutes they were on my car CD player heading down the A19. I of course turned up the volume as I passed Seaham, Easington, and Peterlee all Mackem heartlands of course. You must have had great times writing and recording all those excellent tracks. They will provide me with many happy listening hours. Keep up the great work lads and thanks for your best wishes regarding my DVD.”

To find out more about John’s evocative writing in Verses United click below:

VERSES UNITED – FOR FOOTBALL FANS EVERYWHERE

Steven Carr, (president of supporters club SCOTTISH MAGS, http://www.scottishmags.co.uk

Making contact with the Toon Army north of the border was another highlight of 2009. Scottish Mags president Steven Carr responded enthusiastically to receiving copies of The First Eleven and And 50,000 In The Stands. Our song “All The Bobby Dazzlers” proved a big hit Steven’s young son Liam. When asked at nursery what his favourite song was, young Liam promptly replied “Bobby Dazzlers” much to the bemusement of his teacher. Dad Steven was only too pleased to explain when he came to pick Liam up at the end of the session.
 
Julie Clay, florist who organised the composting of the flowers left at St. James’ Park after Sir Bobby Robson passed away in 2009.

Having read about Julie’s inspired idea to raise money for Sir Bobby’s cancer research charity by composting the flowers that were left at the ground after he died and selling the compost as a fundraiser, I managed to get in touch with her and send her our CDs. In a later follow-up e-mail, she wrote to inform us that an impressive £860 had been raised thanks to her initiative. We tip our caps to Julie, obviously a Geordie lass with a big heart.
 
Bardia Khajenoori, NUFC fan in Florida who launched petition protesting renaming of St. James’ Park

With all of the turmoil surrounding the club these past few years, many fans were particularly disturbed by news that the club’s current owner was considering renaming St. James’ Park as a way of generating funds from sponsor corporations. A fan in Florida named Bardia Khajenoori (16) responded by launching a protest petition. We thought this gutsy effort deserved some reward. After receiving his CDs, Bardia wrote: “I just wanted to tell you that I received your CDs in the mail a few days ago. I was anxiously waiting for them but it was still a nice surprise when I finally got them! I’ve been listening since and reminiscing of my great, albeit short, times in Newcastle and can’t wait to go back armed with these songs.”

Bardia’s petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/nufc2009/petition.html

Bob Ayre, Isle of Man Supporters’ Club

When I heard that Peter Beardsley (my own personal all-time favourite NUFC player) would be a guest speaker at an event held by the Isle of Man Supporters’ Club in August 2009 I promptly contacted the club and offered them several copies of our CDs as door prizes for its members. These were graciously accepted and, much to my delight, Bob made sure that Peter himself received a copy.

Shawn Lowther, general manager National Sports Development Soccer Club, Calgary

After Sir Bobby’s death at the end of July 2009, the Chronicle published samples of the many tributes from readers all over the world. Right next to my own was one from Shawn Lowther, left. Way back in May 1984, North Shields native Shawn was a defender for the Vancouver Whitecaps. The club held an open-house event that spring and I took my then 2-yea r-old son Domenic along to Swangard Stadium for the afternoon. He wore his Newcastle United shirt, which immediately caught the eye of Shawn and several other players who had played in England. I duly took a photo of Shawn with Domenic and thought nothing more of it until 24 years later when our Sir Bobby tributes appeared side by side. Through a little detective work by my sister Margaret who lives in Calgary, I was able to contact Shawn and send him the CDs plus a scan of the photo taken with Domenic all those years ago. This was just another of those wonderful experiences that have brought The Exiles in contact with Newcastle United fans all over the world.

Carl and Andy Thompson father and son footballers

Late in 2009 I came across a charming story on the icnewcastle.co.uk website about a father and son playing for Grange Villa of the Gateshead + District Sunday League Division One who both scored in an  11-1 victory over Lumley FC in December 2009. For a football romantic like me, this was a natural. So I contacted Andy Thompson to express my appreciation of their story and sent him and his son Carl (16) a copy of our two CDs, which I hope they will enjoy en route to St. James’ Park where they share a season’s ticket…

Paul Slattery, caricaturist

After reading about the work caricaturist Paul Slattery had done for Heroes Cafe in the city centre, I contacted Paul and sent him our two CDs. We exchanged several follow-up e-mails and the possibility of him doing artwork for our potential third CD in 2011 was one of the topics mentioned. The fact that we were both at St. James’ Park for the broadcast of the memorial service for Sir Bobby Robson on September 21, 2009 was also noted. The Exiles can certainly recommend a visit to Paul’s website www.paulslattery.co.uk

 

Gary Hogg, artist and storyteller

Gary has been a regular MySpace connection since soon after we launched our page. After seeing one of his “fairly truthful tales” videos on YouTube, I immediately recognised a kindred spirit.

To experience Gary’s folksy humour, visit: http://www.garyhogg.co.uk/Monologues.htm

The Exiles: People and Places in 2011
Whenever The Exiles hear about Newcastle United fans who are the source of a positive news story we do our best to make contact and send them a copy of each of our CDs – our 2003 release The First Eleven (And Three on the Bench) and our 2007 release And 50,000 In The Stands. The year 2011 produced another bumper crop of encounters with kindred spirits around the world, a few of whom we’re pleased to acknowledge by name.

The past year saw us focus our efforts on the Run Geordie Run project that saw the Toon Army’s very own Mark Allison run 3100 miles across the USA – from Huntingdon Beach, California, to Coney Island, New York – in 100 days to raise funds on behalf of two organisations dear to his heart: The Children’s Society and St. Benedict’s Hospice. Alan was able to be on the pier extending out over the Pacific Ocean as Mark set off, and both Tim and Alan were in New York at the conclusion of the 100-day marathon.

The two theme songs we wrote for Mark helped to keep his spirits up during this incredibly arduous journey under truly gruelling conditions. As songwriters, we can honestly say that we are proud of both Runner On A Lonely Road and Beneath The Angel’s Wings Once More and are grateful to Mark for inviting us to contribute to his memorable undertaking. The fact that he went on to raise more than £100,000 in the process has made it an even greater privilege to be involved. We wish Mark all the best with his recently announced plans to run across Australia in 70 days in 2013. Run Geordie Run indeed!

From the point of view of Toon Army, one of the most memorable aspects of Mark’s run came right near the end, when a dozen or so runners in NUFC jerseys joined Mark as he passed through Central Park on the home stretch of his run and accompanied him through lower Manhattan and all the way through Brooklyn to the famous pier at Coney Island. Less than 24 hours later, several dozen well-wishers gathered at Legends Bar in Manhattan to salute Mark. The Exiles were delighted to be part of the welcoming committee and to witness first-hand the reception he received as he made his entrance into the pub. Among those members of Toon Army USA with whom we crossed paths on this memorable occasion were Alain Lacascade, Victoria Harbertson-Bonhomme, Andrew Douglas and Dean Smith. To quote one of our own songs: “If you were there, you’ll never forget it … “.

Mark’s journey is presented right here in a video of Runner on a Lonely Road:
http://www.youtube.com/exvancouver#p/u/11/pDQus-OddZ4
You can cross the entire USA in four minutes without even having to lace up your runners!

A month later, we attended the grand finale of the Run Geordie Run experience at the Gosforth Park Marriot Hotel, where we were particularly delighted to find ourselves at the same table as illustrator and storyteller par excellence Gary Hogg, whose witty comic art had provided a welcome humorous touch throughout Mark’s transcontinental trek. Gary also happens to be the host of the Radio Tyneside program The Geordie Hour, on which songs by The Exiles have been played. We congratulate him on his excellent taste in music!

In October word reached us of a special effort on behalf of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation by NUFC media relations officer Wendy Taylor, who raised thousands of pounds for the charity by completing a strenuous week-long, 180-km hike through the Swiss Alps. Had circumstances been more favourable, Zurich-based Alan would have been thrilled to meet Wendy in person during her time in Switzerland, but he just couldn’t catch her. However, she duly received the Exiles CD package along with a bonus copy of our Sir Bobby tribute, Man of the People, which she described as “fantastic”, a comment that was certainly music to our ears. (By the way, you can hear this unreleased track on our myspace page at www.myspace.com/magpiexiles). A tip of the old cloth cap to Wendy on her accomplishment, which was no mean feat (pardon the pun!).

Staying with the charity theme, we were pleased to connect with NUFC fan Eric Duffield, the trustee of the Johnny Kennedy foundation, which helps sufferers of epidermolysis bullosa. We were inspired to send Eric copies of each CD after hearing that his health had let him down ahead of “The Entertainers” charity match in October. This report on the Newcastle Chronicle website prompted us to get in touch with Eric.

“TOON stars found a special way to send their best wishes to a fan who missed a match after suffering a massive asthma attack. Eric Duffield had been to watch Sunday’s “Entertainers” charity clash that saw United stars from the past play veteran Liverpool players. But Toon-mad Eric was rushed to hospital after suffering a huge asthma attack during a dinner before the game. Thankfully, the 57-year-old was successfully treated and survived the frightening episode. However, he was left disappointed at missing the match he had waited months to see. Now, after hearing about the incident, former Magpies aces including Tino Asprilla and David Ginola, clubbed together to give Eric a signed shirt as a message of goodwill.”
We understand that Eric is now in the process of trying to sell the autographed shirt to raise funds for the charity to which he is so dedicated.

A great story from Waterford, Ireland, caught our attention in December, namely the publication of a book entitled Flight Of A Magpie, by fellow fan Billy Costine. An exchange of e-mails with Billy confirmed that, like Alan, he traced his lifelong obsession with the black-and-whites all the way back to the 1961-62 season. In Billy’s case, it was a set of Subbuteo players in Toon kit that won his heart. (And hands up, all those who knew that the name Subbuteo is of Latin origin, something to do with a falcon apparently.) A quick “google” of Billy’s name and book title generates plenty of links if you wish to know more about his own personal NUFC love story.

The Internet played its part in a virtual encounter with Jo Burrows and Jane Kelley, the dynamic duo behind this great Geordie website: http://www.geordiemugs.co.uk/ through which they market a charming assortment of “cards, mugs and stuff” sure to bring a smile to anyone with some kind of connection to the River Tyne. And they know a thing or two about football, too.

Those of you with very long memories will be aware that June 9, 2012, marks the 150th anniversary of The Blaydon Races, that legendary gathering of merry-makers on a long-ago “summer’s afternoon” that gave birth to the Geordie national anthem. Contact with the people calling for a commemorative event next summer resulted in Tim’s own version of the song, recorded a few years back live at a club in Vancouver, being added to the list of versions released down the years by various artists. You can hear it at http://www.blaydonraces150.co.uk/Song.html

Well that gives you some idea of what we have been up to. Here’s hoping that Newcastle United supporters around the world have plenty to sing about between now and the end of the season. Howay the Lads!