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No Strings! - 18/04/2003

As a player at a club as big as Newcastle we're used to getting many requests to help out with charities. This week was no different, although the request itself was a new one for me...they wanted a pair of socks.

The organisation is called 'No Strings', and they use puppetry to provide education for children in the developing world. The puppet shows are both entertaining and informative - so keep the children interested when important issues such as landmine safety awareness and education about HIV and AIDS are being taught.

The organisation has been founded by two members of the team behind the Muppets, puppeteers Michael Frith and his wife Kathryn Mullen; Irish aid co-ordinator Johnie McGlade; with the help of well-known actors Neil Morrissey and Hugo Speer(Full Monty, Hearts and Bones and Sons and Lovers); and bestselling novelist Jessica Adams.

The charity needs funds for a visit to Afghanistan – which is due to take place in two months time. As a result, there's a charity auction night on April 29 at Bar38, Newcastle. Hugo Speer and Johnie McGlade (Founder of No-Strings) will be at the event. I'm told that in addition to a raffle. they're auctioning some players socks which will have been turned into puppets. I've given a pair of my training socks and I've heard Bez has dug out some socks from his Newcastle days. I think Jamie (McClen) was also helping out. If you're on the Quayside a week on Tuesday, why not call in and lend them support?

I was back in training yesterday after having Wednesday off. We'd played Everton reserves on Tuesday night and got a good 2-1 win - yours truly also got in among the goals. To be honest, we had a strong squad, with players such as Dabi, Nobby, Hugo, as well as Stevie Caldwell, Lua Lua, Clarence Acuna and Carl Cort playing. There's a brief report on the game below.

It's Fulham on Saturday and I'm hoping there's a place for Lee Clark in the Fulham line up. He's been hit by quite a few injuries recently and after expecting to play at St.James earlier in the season, he picked up a calf injury that he's only just recovered from. It'll be great for him to appear infront of the fans as it's quite a well known fact that in all the years since he left the club, he's never had a chance against the club and to show his appreciation for the fans. He's still got a box at St.James and gets to as many games as he can.

United manager Sir Bobby Robson was an interested observer as a strong Magpies second string beat Everton 2-1 at Widnes last night. Reserve team coach Tommy Craig named nine players with Premiership experience in his starting line-up, including first-team regulars Hugo Viana and Nobby Solano. Both sides struggled to settle on a difficult surface though former United striker Duncan Ferguson had the first opportunity of the game on 10 minutes when he dragged a shot across the face of goal after good work from Alexandersson. Osman then failed to get his shot on target after Dabizas put him under pressure, then moments later Moogan had an effort cleared after robbing Viana just inside the United half. Newcastle's first real opening came with 24 minutes gone but LuaLua could head weakly at goal after Viana's free-kick. Everton took the lead on 28 minutes when Chadwick squeezed a header in at the back post after Dabizas just failed to head Osman's cross clear. But the Magpies were back in it within a minute, and after Solano's powerful drive came back off the woodwork Robbie Elliott showed quick reactions to head the ball home. United finished the half strongly, with LuaLua shooting just over the bar after skipping past two challenges on the edge of the box, then Quinn was unlucky when the ball bobbled up off the rock-hard pitch after Acuna sent him clear.

After the break Steve Caldwell got in a superb block to deny Chadwick a clear strike at goal after Ferguson's flick on, then at the other end LuaLua shot into the side-netting after rounding Simonsen following a short back pass. The game continued to flow from end to end and after Tony Caig pulled a full-stretch save to deny Ferguson, Carl Cort and LuaLua again both had good chances for the visitors. On 70 minutes Newcastle went ahead for the first time when LuaLua fed Viana out wide, and when the Portuguese international crossed into the middle Cort was on hand to prod the ball home from six yards out.

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Corporate hospitality with John Beresford

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