By Brian Hall
Wednesday 21 Sep 2011 22:34:00
Browse all Brian Hall articles




The last blog spoke of that bloke from Hetton who broke the world record for Heaviest Leek ever, in a Sunday competition up at Causey Arch. It made me think. How many other characters from Hetton alone, have hit fame?  I rang a friend down there in order to check up on any other famous people who have originated from that ex-mining small town, which by the way, is not part of Sunderland. I have to stress that, as it was annexed in the big boundary shake up years ago which led to my village, Shiney, and even Washington, officially declared part of MackemLand. Hetton is County Durham. One famous man from there would have said that.


His name? Bob Paisley, former manager of an unstoppable Liverpool side, winning Leagues and European Cups just to pass the time away. Bob was one of Hetton's best exports - not  for us Mags that is - but in terms of his football successes, and not least because of his actual character. My friend, Florrie, met him, and spoke to me on the phone of his modesty, and indeed his memory of his roots - soup kitchens in the 20s, and so on. A mate of mine, Min, met him as well, during the night, at some remote motorway cafe. Bob heard the accent, asked MIN if he could join him for a bit crack over the coffee, and then, spoke fondly of his Hetton roots. Min got his autograph, and told us all back home that Bob was just an ordinary fella - Bob would have liked that description.



Florrie in Bob's old area also reminded me of Ralph Coates, which came as a bit of a shock. Ralph played for Spurs in the 70s, and, I think, England, a few times. He also happened to be - in our small regional world - the son of my Dad's cousin!! I had forgot that, but after the telephone crack with my Hetton contact, I remembered that he once sent up a Notts County strip for me when I was a bairn. He was playing for them, obviously, afore he went on to bigger stuff. And I used to wear it as a kid - it was black and white stripes, just to confirm to those who kna nowt about that East Midlands team that I did not think I was betraying my NUFC roots!


Time to move away from Hetton as a source of famous characters, as I might end up mentioning the absurd link spewed out about Princess Kate, or whatever she is called now, surrounding that Royal Wedding earlier this year. That was all very embarrasing, but I suppose not as embarrasing as another woman who had links with that area - the Queen Mother, God Bless Her, a Bowes Lyon, part of a family who reigned over the miners around there, and beyond.


No, best to move on. What about other parts, South of the Tyne? Not the obvious one, like Durham City or Washington. By the way, just in case anybody thinks there is a southern bias here, I will follow up with North of the Tyne in the next blog.


Anyway, back to old County Durham small towns and villages. How about Esh Winning, for example? Well, immediate answer on that one. Sir Bobby Robson! Move across to Stanley, and you would find that Kevin Keegan's Grandad was the hero of the pit disaster in the town. Consett does not too bad either, not least because it was one hell of a successful steel produced, useful stuff at the time churned out by quite a few famous, and infamous characters!! I can get away with that remark, as part of my kin come from there.


And what about Felling, I mean The Felling that was never part of Gateshead itself? One bloke built one of the oldest railway stations in the world, another is a very famous author for kids, David Almond, and another is involved with PlayersInc - mind you, the last one cannot be classified as in the fame category. Sorry, Mr Wraith. And just along the road from that place lies Jarrow and Hebburn. The Marchers spring to mind, and many others, including Brendan Foster.


Of course, my old area, Shiney Row has seen loads of celebrities over the years. Err....Weh, not loads, like. But we produced Alan Kennedy, a Mag left back and later, a European Cup medal holder - unfortunately, not with the NUFC.. And in a previous era, we had Willie Hamilton, the most ardent anti-Royalist MP in Parliament. And on top of that, we had the Lambton family. One slew the Lambton Worm, for example. Mind you, he was the cause of the bloody Worm getting bigger in the first place afore he left Shiney. 


And dont forget West Auckland, just to hoy another in. A place which turned out a very famous bunch indeed. Namely,the first England team to win the World Cup. Check it up - a fact. 


The list is endless. Am going North of the Big River next, to check out the characters over the years from Bedlington, Newbiggin by the Sea, and Harbottle. Bet you I can find some. 



Lot of history up here. 









Sorry, forgot to mention Causey Arch. Not in terms of the Heaviest Leek ever produced Show. That place has the oldest rail bridge, or something like that, in history. Now, the people who built that, and operated it, deserve some fame, eh.

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