Ex-Sunderland and Newcastle players to turn on centre’s Christmas lights

Kevin Ball.
Kevin Ball.

Two former football heroes will be putting club rivalries aside to turn on the Christmas lights in Boldon.

Former Sunderland skipper Kevin Ball and legendary Newcastle United striker Malcolm Macdonald - better known as Supermac - will join forces to light up the area’s Christmas tree, at Boldon Community Centre, on Friday, November 23.

Malcolm Macdonald.

Malcolm Macdonald.

The appearance has been made possible by centre manager Sue Topping, who took over the running of the venue, in New Road, last April.

And she hopes the lighting of the Christmas tree, within the centre’s grounds, will bring the community out in force and help turn it into an annual event.

Mrs Topping said: “Kevin Ball is a close family friend and when we asked if he’d be interested he said he would. We contacted Newcastle United to see if they had anyone available and Malcom Macdonald volunteered.

“The planning of the event seems to be coming along nicely and we have had lots of interest, especially from older people and we are expecting to see around 400 people turn out,

It’d be great to see as many people from the community turn out, and hopefully we can make this into an annual event.

Sue Topping

“It’s something for Boldon. As some of the feedback and conversations we have with people, is that they feel as if Boldon gets forgotten about especially at this time of year as everything is all about South Shields, Jarrow and Hebburn.

“It’d be great to see as many people from the community turn out, and hopefully we can make this into an annual event.”

Former Black Cats captain Ball has also held the role of caretaker manager at the Stadium of Light and is currently a club ambassador.

During his time at Sunderland he played 389 games and scored 27 goals.

A former club captain, he won the title of Sunderland Player of the Year for the 1990–91 season, and again in 1996–97.

Ex-England international Macdonald holds the honour of being the Magpies’ fifth highest goalscorer.

After retiring from the playing he went into management. He is currently the President of North Shields Football Club.

As well as an appearance by the pair, Santa will also be in his grotto, arriving on his horse and cart to meet youngsters, while entertainment will be provided by Hedworth Lane and West Boldon Primary School choirs.

Visitors will also get the chance to browse a range of stalls selling a variety of Christmas gifts and watch dance, yoga and boxing exhibitions, have their faces painted, take part in Christmas Arts and Crafts and enjoy mulled wine and mince pies.

The event, which starts at 6pm, has been made possible thanks to funding and support from Boldon Community Centre, Boldon School, ASDA, and £1,000 Community Area Forum grant from South Tyneside Council.