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Scoring with the fans; EXHIBITION For over 130 years we've been there through the exhilarating highs and exhausting lows, so it seems only right that for a new exhibition about Newcastle United Football Club we were all invited to pitch in with our own take on what it's meant in our city and our lives. Now, with the long-awaited Toon Times about to kick off, Barbara Hodgson scores the exhibits.

Kevin Keegan IT was back in 2012 that footie fans first heard about plans for a Toon Times Heritage Project charting the colourful history of our black and white club as ex-Newcastle United stars joined current players in a high-profile launch.

Among them were Peter Beardsley, and Bob Moncur - the former captain who came to the region from Scotland at the age of just 15 and helped to bring home the 1969 Fairs Cup. Taking part in the project, he said, was a "privilege" and, in acknowledgement of the huge role which the game plays in many locals' lives, the club opened up the invitation to get involved.

Fans were invited to share their own memories of days spent at St James' Park and, since then, these have been feeding into the rapidly-expanding exhibition which - now complete - will be opening at Discovery Museum in the city centre on February 8. Toon Times charts the fortunes of the club from its beginnings in 1881 to its Premier League status and is free and interactive, enabling any Toon Army fan who has always wondered just how it feels to beat the heart of the beautiful game the chance to experience first-hand some of its famous features, such as the tunnel which the players pass through to the pitch.

This has been recreated for the exhibition, along with a dug-out and team changing room complete with the sights and sounds of a match day.

Among the exhibits on show will be a replica of that Inter-Cities Fairs Cup of 1969, the last major European trophy won by the club; plus other NUFC treasures that have never before been on public display, such as souvenir programmes and the signature black and white shirts worn by the likes of Jackie Milburn, Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer.

There's even a pair of stuffed Magpies, apparently, that helps explore how the club got its nickname.

A Newcastle United Foundation Hall of Fame display will commemorate some of those legendary players, managers and line-ups and there are plans to induct other names into the roll-call during the exhibition - again, with fans able to have a say. They can also display their own memories and personal trophies in a dedicated "fanzone": a kind of living testimonial to the loyal Toon Army who have made the club one of the most supported in the country.

But the focus will be not just on the players but also on parts played by their families, the linesmen and club shop workers, in a bid to tell the all-round story.

There'll be creative input too, from artists - professionals and otherwise - who took part in a competition to explore the NUFC theme.

The Balman Gallery @ Discovery Museum - a collaborative venture that sees the Corbridge gallery team up with the Newcastle museum - invited artists to capture (for display and sale) every element of the club, from the crowd and atmosphere to the stadium and history.

A painting by Gavin Penn called Waiting for Bobby was used to inspire them. It captures waiting fans and Bobby Robson on his return as manager to "save" the Toon (Newcastle went on to beat Sheffield Wednesday 8-0 in their next match). As Hazel Edwards, manager of Discovery Museum, said: "Newcastle United Football Club is a huge part of the North East's cultural, social and economic landscape and Toon Times celebrates the very special relationship the club has with its fans.

"The exhibition has something for all ages and will allow visitors to experience the excitement of match day through a range of interactive elements, as well as leave their own mark on the club's history by recording their own special memories."

Staged in partnership with Newcastle United Foundation, Toon Times will run at Discovery Museum until October 5; thanks to funding from the Premier League PFA Community Fund, Heritage Lottery and North East Teaching Agency, First Class Supply.

Toon Times project coordinator Gavin Ferry said: "We want to thank all the supporters and legends for donating memorabilia and memories and, of course, our funders and partners who have made this project possible.

"The exhibition is the culmination of two years of extensive planning and we can't wait to see fans coming through the door."

Discovery Museum is open daily from 10am (11am at weekends) until 4pm.

OTHER CROWD-PLEASERS The culture of football in the North East will also be celebrated in a number of events running at Discovery Museum alongside Toon Times Pre-match family fun days, free Before every home game until the end of the season, visitors can enjoy football-inspired crafts.

Newcastle United: A Remarkable History, PS4 On March 6, club historian Paul Joannou will lead fans through the fascinating history of NUFC, taking in key elements of the exhibition. Booking is required.

Toon Times: The History of Newcastle United Football Club, PS5 (at St James' Park) This March 15 walking tour around St James' will take in the fascinating history of the club.

Booking is required.

Subbuteo Exhibition, free On March 22, visitors can enjoy a return to the golden age of table football, courtesy of a Subbuteo exhibition match held by members of the North East Table Football Association.

Visit www.discoverymuseum.org.uk for booking information. Discovery Museum will also be hosting events in the summer to mark the World Cup.

CAPTION(S):

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 28, 2014
Words:923
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