So, there I was standing outside in the pouring rain, water seeping up through the hallowed turf and flooding the whole venerable are with mud, mud, glorious mud. It was cold, it was wet, and it was glorious, the day had finally come.
It’s been a long, long, long hard struggle and quite how Mr and Mrs Blake have come through the whole mind-bending, energy-sapping, stress creating turmoil and finally seen their dream come true is hard to believe.
The expression blood, sweat and tears has never been greater served in the quest for the promised land but finally, finally, yesterday the promised land became our land and now we await the final touch… Eagles Community Arena, sounds sweet doesn’t it?
Boy, could I write a book never mind a blog about how from a germination of an idea a towering flower of a building will finally emerge but, I’m guessing you’ll already have gotten the idea from the first three paragraphs.
As I walked down the hill towards the opening on the ring-fenced piece of land that now is the property of Newcastle Eagles I felt emotional and ecstatic in equal measures.
Reality hits home and whilst there were times, and there were a lot of them, that a lot of us thought it might never happen, it has and we and when I say we I mean everyone connected with the magnificent organisation that is Esh Group Eagles Newcastle/Eagles Community Foundation should stand tall and stand proud.
That includes each and everyone of our fans too. After all there’s no point in building an arena without the passionate fans to put inside it and in our loyal Eagles fans we certainly have a support that is worthy of what is about to be built.
Yes, the local community will prosper and benefit from it, yes, our wonderful senior team will have a place they can call home, the junior Eagles sides too will now have a venue to train and play out of it. What’s that thing called I’m thinking of? Oh yes, win-win.
You could feel the excitement in the air as I strode in to the portacabin and was supplied with my shoes to save my own from the conditions. Yes, it was me in that big bobbled Northumbria hat and I even had my own hi-vis jacket which I use at Newcastle Speedway.
I did briefly wonder why I had shoes whilst most if not all others had boots but that fleeting thought aside I took my place in the photos I was entitled to be in and took my own photos of the photos that the photographers were taking when I was not required.
I was determined to have my own memories of the day, although with how wet it was I’m not sure what the quality will be like, but I still took them. Naturally our Fabulous one was the man who was asked to be the shovel bearer, fitting that although perhaps Paul may have been the one?
Little mattered as everyone and I do mean everyone had huge smiles on their faces despite the weather as all present had played their part somewhere down the line and all knew what it meant to be standing there on that historic occasion.
Everybody had a tear in their eye too and it wasn’t just the rain causing those wet faces. I even cast my eyes skyward and thought that the late great Brian Manning the Esh Group Chief Executive who shared Mr Blake’s may well be the reason the rain was cascading down.
Such was his presence missed I’m sure it was his tears of joy that were raining down from heaven as he surely looked down with a huge sense of pride.
Duty down, photos stood for and photos taken it was time to change back in to my own shoes, leave my supplied ones behind and return to the place that pays me the money that helps me be part of The Eagles family.
A slight sense of dismay had descended through though to one of our esteemed Trustees who had stood proud for his photograph alongside our fellow Trustees that have convened in many a meeting to discuss, agree and sign off many documents that helped this project.
Sadly, it seemed someone had taken a liking to his shoes and had made off with them leaving our esteemed Trustee in the rather muddy boots that he’d been supplied with. Guess, you can’t win them all.
We searched high and low, but they were nowhere to be seen. Ah well, I guess a gremlin or two had to be factored in. I though with trousers splattered with mud making them look more like camouflage trousers than work ones. Took off my supplied shoes and put my own back on.
Merely seconds after doing so an exclamation went up. Our Trustees shoes had been found! It seems someone had been wearing them outside as they’d been supplied them as their cover for their own.
Well, would you have questioned it when you’d been given them by a trusting organised Eagles luminaire? I certainly didn’t! My bad? Not really, I was just doing what I was told to do. But, it was difficult to explain that to our trusted Trustee.
Never mind he left the site with his own shoes muddy and worn tucked in a box as he kept the boots he’d been supplied with as they were in better condition than his own “stolen” ones.
But, I digress. The day was a success. Many words of far better platitude and praise have been set down for future generations to read about and digest. Pictures that who knows may turn up in history books of the far distant future were published and filed.
For me, it was a huge surge of pride. Pride in such a wonderful organisation and cause. Pride in such a wondrous legacy created and pride in bringing a dream to a reality and if I can be selfish, pride for the little part I have played in such a venture.
In this world there are things you will be proud of and things that you’d rather not have done. All I know is that every time I enter that building when it is finished and even when I’m long gone and it’s still standing I hope someone somewhere can remember my little part.
Wednesday 29th November 2017 was a great, momentous and historic day and not just ‘cos it was Team Manager Wilson’s 60th birthday, it was the day, for me, that Newcastle Eagles broke ground on the legacy they have laid down.