‘We would have helped Hillsborough victims’ - United legend

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NEWCASTLE United legend Peter Beardsley recalled the highs and lows of his football career to help raise money for a charity in South Tyneside.

The former Magpies and England star spoke to a packed audience at the official opening of a new club, Armstrong Hall, in Stanhope Road, South Shields.

The event gave football fans the chance to meet one of the region’s sporting heroes, and also helped raise hundreds of pounds for a local charity, Cancer Connections.

The evening, opened by the Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Jim Sewell, saw the football legend talk about where he sees Newcastle United going in the future, the club’s past and present players, as well as about his time in Liverpool.

The room fell silent as he also recalled, vividly, the tragedy on 1989 when 96 football fans lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster.

He said: “It was a 3pm kick-off, and after about four minutes I hit the bar.

“At the time, I was disappointed. I remember turning round and looking behind our goal, and it was chaos.

“In hindsight, if I had scored, things could have been worse. That’s just how I felt.” He told how the players, who had been ushered into their dressing rooms, had no idea how serious the situation was, or that people were losing their lives.

He said: “We were sat in our kits for an hour and 40 minutes. If we had known what was happening outside, we would have been out there helping.”

Beardsley drew a cheer when he spoke fondly of Sir Bobby Robson, describing him as a “brilliant manager”.

The player, who is United’s football development manager, signed autographs and posed for pictures before finishing the night taking questions from the floor.

An auction of his boots raised £420 for the charity.

Owner of Armstrong Hall, Tony Singh, said: “I thought the night went really well. We had a mixture of people through the doors to see Peter, and it was a really good atmosphere.”

The businessman took over ownership of the hall two months ago, and since then manageress, Lynn McKenna, has made a number of changes which has helped to boost numbers, including having live football and bigger cash prizes for bingo.

Coun Sewell, who attended the event with his wife, Rosemary, said: “It was a great night, and the turnout was fantastic.

“I would like to thank Tony Singh for saving the Armstrong Hall from closing, and wish him and his staff the best of luck in their new venture.”

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