Article from The Tyne Valley Express

Autumn is a beautiful time and one of noticeable change. The leaves change and the weather changes, bringing for many the buzz of the new season’s fashions. But for many others the buzz surrounds the start of an altogether different season..the sports season.

As a history graduate, I personally believe it’s important to acknowledge that we have a long and proud tradition of sport in the north east. For many people sport represented an escape from the toil of the shipyards and pits but whatever the reason for participating, it has always generated real passion. The annual Great North Run is a matter of north east pride, raising hope and funds for many and our profile as a region with a heart. Good luck to all those training at the moment.

As a cross country and netball county champ in schooldays, I know first hand that sport brings with it not only fitness and good health but encourages teamwork, perseverance and mental strength. It is essential that our children take part and government campaigns aside, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that it’s fun. Our sportsmen and women leading up to 2012 are real role models and show what we can achieve with practice and determination.

Last weekend marked the start of the premiership season and the opening of the new family enclosure at St James’s Park. It’s almost a rite of passage to enjoy a game or two at a ground of choice.

My first encounter with St James’s Park was as a guest and I was lucky enough to be seated in the players enclosure and enjoy the luxury of the beautiful game.

Despite having previously enjoyed regular ski trips in -23 conditions, that match was the coldest I’ve ever been but for those who have experienced the 5-1/5-0 glory days they will know that the excitement and feeling of belonging to something special is enough to keep the cold at bay.

I have since enjoyed a few more adrenaline fuelled highs with the black and white army, as well as a few lows – well, until I discovered I could experience the thrilling sound of the fans’ roars quite easily by shopping in the warmth nearby.. Fairweather moi?

Next week marks the mighty derby, a time of pride, excitement and tension in our cities. Our rugby seasons also begin and we hope that in a time when a sense of community has been shaken by events up and down the country, sport can bring us back together and recreate the true spirit of collaboration.