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Crossing the big Tyne and Wear divide? It will be all right Jack!

Byline: JOHN GIBSON

IT is said in this part of the world to be the most perilous of paths through a minefield.

I refer of course to the changing of stripes from red-and-white to blackand-white in an area where there is ferocious rivalry.

Jack Colback, it seems, is about to become the latest to bravely walk the walk.

There is no question both sets of fans breed something akin to hatred of one another, yet history suggests the majority of players have made the transition without too much flak from those who pay to watch.

There are obvious high-profile exceptions, of course. Lee Clark was never accepted on Wearside and there is no doubt Steve Bruce suffered while managing the Mackems because of his Geordie roots - but that is just about it.

Let us take a closer look at the crossing of a great divide.

Plenty of footballers have played for both clubs down the years, such as Bob Moncur, Pop Robson, Alan Foggon, Chris Waddle, Andy Cole, Tommy Gibb, T Len Shackleton, Ernie Taylor, Lee Clark, T Alan Kennedy, Billy Whitehurst, David Young, Robbie Elliott, Ron Guthrie, Michael Chopra and Titus Bramble.

However, all of those played for United first.

A few were initially at Sunderland and later joined United, but significantly with other clubs served in between. They include Ivor Broadis, Colin Suggett, and Barry Venison.

However, those who took the direct route from Wear to Tyne area much t more select body, with Stan Anderson and Paul Bracewell the most signifi-cant.

If Colback is as successful at St James' Park as those two he will be fine.

Anderson had spent a huge chunk of his career becoming a Sunderland great. He played in red and white stripes 447 times in a 12-year career at Roker Park, picking up two England caps.

His transfer up the road naturally caused a furore after such loyal service but Anderson loved it.

He skippered United to the Second Division championship in 1965 and openly states to this day Joe Harvey was the finest manager he played for and he wished he had made the move earlier.

As for Bracewell, he likewise made an immediate impact after becoming a Mag.

In his first season of sitting in front of the back four United were promoted as Division One champions and roared on to finish an incredible third in their first season in the Premier League.

Ironic Brace should be such a hit at SJP because that is where, when he was wearing Everton blue, United striker Billy Whitehurst's ruinous attack upon his ankle finished his England career and almost his career full stop.

Brace was a fully paid-up member of Kevin Keegan's Entertainers, though as it turned out he was a bit like Pop Robson. He kept going back to Wearside. there is, inevitably, a failure among those who came a dozen or so miles north. French goalkeeper Lionel Perez did not play a single game for Newcastle in his 21-month stay, being squeezed out by such luminaries as Shay Given and Steve Harper.

United farmed him out on loan to Scunthorpe United and Cambridge United before getting rid permanently.

As it happened, Given arrived at Newcastle having kept 12 clean sheets during a 17-game stretch on loan at Sunderland when they won promotion to the Premier League as champions. Given went on to become a Geordie legend, of course.

Colback has a head start over both Anderson and Bracewell in his bid to win over the faithful. He is a Geordie who was a Newcastle fan as a boy and who has members of his family who remained loyal to the black and white stripes despite one of their own signing for Sunderland.

Sure, he scored Sunderland's third goal on Geordie soil in the last Tyne-Wear derby at the beginning of February which the Mags humiliatingly lost 3-0, but I doubt if Geordie fans will hold that against him now he is returning to his birthplace. Colback did, after all, turn down the likes of West Ham and Sunderland themselves, who wanted to renew his contract, so he could move to his home town club.

Yeah the red-haired one should be fine.

Show total commitment on the field of combat from the very first day because all the world loves a trier and there ought to be no backlash.

Apart from when United play Sunderland at the Stadium of Light of course!

ONE of Tyneside's great sporting characters Bobby Mains has died at the age of 85.

Bobby was involved in just about every local sport. He was an avid follower of Gateshead football club home and away from the late-40s until late-90s, and was an honorary member of Northumberland CCC as well as the old County Club, now renamed Newcastle CC.

Having played cricket and hockey for the DHSS where he worked, Bobby was a fan of Newcastle Speedway in the halcyon days of Ivan Mauger and would also be seen at horse racing and greyhound tracks.

Such was his collection of football programmes that they brought a handsome five-figure sum when sold two years ago.

Everyone who frequented the various arenas of the Tyne will remember Bobby Mains, the grand old man of sport.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 7, 2014
Words:875
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