Boro legend Robson to be honoured by North-East football writers

Two of the North-East’s most popular managers are to be honoured by the region’s football writers.

Bryan Robson and Peter Reid, former Middlesbrough and Sunderland managers, will be presented with Legend Awards by the North East Football Writers’ Association at a dinner at the Ramside Hall Hotel in Durham on Thursday October 10.

The inaugural award is in recognition of the contribution the two men made to North-East football, as they helped to put Boro and Sunderland on the football map in the formative years of the Premier League.

Although silverware may have evaded them, their teams excited and entertained and their style of football will forever be remembered in a football-mad region used to being starved of success and trophies and Wembley wins.

Reid and Robson, who both played for England under former Newcastle United manager Sir Bobby Robson, were also the two men in charge when Boro and Sunderland left their much-loved but decaying Ayresome Park and Roker Park.

The moves to the Riverside Stadium and Stadium of Light were pivotal in the clubs’ places in the top ten and Wembley finals, although there were relegations to deal with too.

Former players and assistants managers will be among the contributors on the night, as well as the two recipients and proceeds will go to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

Paul Hetherington, a member of the national committee of the FWA and a former chairman of the association both nationally and of the North-East branch, said: “This is a prestigious addition to the FWA calendar of events and the national body and our sponsors, William Hill, are delighted to endorse it.

“The North-East loves a hero and Reidy and Robbo certainly fall into that category. I know they are honoured to be the inaugural recipients and are greatly looking forward to the night at the Ramside Hall.”

Tickets are £45 for the Reid and Robson North-East Legends Award Night at the Ramside Hall Hotel, Golf and Spa on Thursday October 10.

  • Contact Claire Stephen 0191 375 3080 or Colin Young, NEFWA secretary

• Chester-le-Street-born Robson was Manchester United and England’s Captain Marvel and left in 1994 after 13 years at Old Trafford, to take over initially as Middlesbrough’s player-manager for Ayresome Park’s final season under ambitious chairman Steve Gibson.

Boro won promotion to the Premier League as champions and finished 12th in their first season, with Juninho in their ranks. Gibson backed the sensational signing of Fabrizio Ravanelli from European champions Juventus and Brazilian Emerson.

Middlesbrough reached their first League Cup and FA Cup finals in the same season, but lost both, losing out in a replay to Leicester in the League Cup before Cheslea’s Roberto di Matteo record-breaking first minute goal settled the FA Cup. In between, Middlesbrough suffered relegation, thanks mainly to a postponement at Blackburn which led to a controversial points deduction.

Unlike Sunderland, Middlesbrough made a triumphant return to the Premier League, with Paul Gascoigne, Andy Townsend and former NEFWA player of the year Paul Merson among the stream of big-name signings Gibson continued to fund.

They reached a third Wembley final, but lost to Chelsea again, this time in the League Cup, and as the likes of Alen Boksic, Marco Branco and Christian Karembeu made cameo appearances and established Boro as a mid-table side for three seasons.

When relegation threatened in 2001, Robson brought in former England manager Terry Venables and help keep Boro safe and left before the start of the 2001/02 season, to be replaced by Steve McClaren.

• Reid took over at Roker Park in March 1995 and successfully steered Sunderland away from relegation from the old second division with three wins and three draws from the final seven games of the season.

The following season, with captain Kevin Ball at the heart of Sunderland’s mdifield, they won the Division One title and a first crack at the Premier League in Roker Park’s farewell season.

He signed Niall Quinn for a record £1.3m, but the Irishman suffered an early knee injury which ruled him out for the season and Sunderland were relegated on the last day at Wimbledon despite a 40 point return.

An immediate return to the top flight was denied thanks to Michael Gray’s penalty miss in the unforgettable Wembley play-off defeat to Charlton but Sunderland were resurgent record breakers the following season thanks largely to Quinn’s partnership with Kevin Phillips, Reid’s £325,000 buy from Watford. It was one of many astute bargains buys.

Sunderland made an impressive start on their return to the Premier League, and they were in second place in January 2001, but managed just 14 wins under Reid in the next 62 league games. Once again starved of proper funds to compete in the top flight, he was sacked in October 2002 after a 3-1 defeat at Arsenal.

In his playing career, Reid, 63, won 13 England caps under Robson and two league titles with Everton, where he also won the FA Cup and European Cup-Winners’ Cup. He made more than 500 appearances for Bolton, Everton, QPR, Manchester City, Southampton, Notts County and Bury and before Sunderland managed Manchester City for three years.

Reid is now an assistant to Paul Cook at Wigan Athletic after briefs spells as manager of Leeds, Coventry, Plymouth, Mumbai City and Thailand.