Meet the former BMX racer handed a key role at Newcastle United

Chris Hogg’s journey didn’t start on a football field.

Instead, it started on BMX tracks up and down the country. And it was those long journeys down to London in his dad’s work van, and long hours practising at home on Teesside, which shaped the new lead player development coach for Newcastle United’s Under-23 side.

“I got brought up on a BMX,” said Hogg, who spoke to the Gazette in the canteen at the Academy the club’s development squad eat their breakfast.

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“My two cousins and myself just loved BMXing. My dad used to me put it in the back of his work van and take me down to London every weekend and I’d compete at BMX.

Chris Hogg. (Pic: Newcastle United)Chris Hogg. (Pic: Newcastle United)
Chris Hogg. (Pic: Newcastle United)

“I’m really fortunate that I had parents who did that for me. It was hard times for them I’m sure, but that competing element has always been in myself from an early age.

“I look back and it gave me a certain set of skills to then take into football around practice and doing extra little bits of work and the ethic you need to be successful, which is something that’s really important to these young players.”

Middlesbrough-born Hogg was a relative latecomer to football, having only joined a local team in his aged nine.

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“I have to say I was terrible at nine, 10 years-old,” jokes Hogg as the last of his players put away their plates behind him ahead of the morning’s training session at Little Benton.

Chris Hogg playing for Hibernian.Chris Hogg playing for Hibernian.
Chris Hogg playing for Hibernian.

Hogg wasn’t terrible for long. He practised and practised, just as he had done with his BMX, and went on to have a career as a professional footballer.

The 34-year-old, best known for his seven years with Hibernian, now aims to develop the players he has inherited at Newcastle – on and off the field – after joining from Ipswich Town, where he had been joint-Under-23 coach.

“I’m the type of person who likes working with players and building relationships with players and trying to develop people as well footballers,” said Hogg, who will take charge of the Under-23s for tomorrow’s Premier League Cup game against Scunthorpe United at Whitley Park (1pm kick-off).

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“I know that sounds a bit corny and cheesy, but it’s how I work. I’m a big believer in that. The football’s really important to me, and getting players a career and into the first team, but then it’s relationships and dealing with people every day is a big part of how I work.

“I’m looking to get used to the club, and for them to get used to me and then bring my skill set and my experience into the football side of things.”

The pull of the North East was strong for Hogg, who left the region as a teenager to sign for Ipswich.

“It’s a big club, and I’m back in the North East, so I’m delighted,” Hogg, who won the Scottish League Cup with Hibs in 2007. “It’s the next step in my own coaching journey. I want to be the best version I can be of myself. I see Newcastle as a really good opportunity for myself to develop. I can bring certain things and help players, and I’m really excited.”

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Hogg – who succeeds Neil Redfearn in the role at United – believes he can help take the club’s Academy to the next level.

“I wouldn’t have come here if I didn’t think it was a place I could try and influence and push towards being the best,” said Hogg. “There’s good staff and people here.

“It’s trying to pull everything together and be the best. I know that’s a corny saying in a way, but it’s how you need to live your life to get to the next level in what you do. I’ve been brought up on that. It’s something I believe massively in in terms of having a real growth mindset.

“There’ll be challenges, setbacks, but again how I work with the players and staff will evolve from here.”

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Midfielders Sean and Matty Longstaff, most recently, have shown the way to first-team football at Newcastle.

“Ultimately, the players have got to be good enough,” said Hogg. “The players have got to earn the trust of the first-team staff, the trust of the management team here. Players will force themselves through at different times.

“We’ve just got to equip them with the skills to make that impression and for them to bring their own personalities when they’re with the first team so the first team go ‘right, we’ll take him’. Then they can kick on.

“It’s not easy, I understand that. I’m sure Newcastle fans and the club would have loved another 10 or 15 players through. I know the Academy is a big part of the club and a big passion of the city.

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“They like nothing more than seeing local lads play for the team. If we can get a few more through, it would be great for the city and the young players.”

It’ll be a case of evolution, not revolution, for Hogg. He said: "There are principles in football. It's a style and ethos of what Newcastle United is about. The big thing for me is to come in and blend my beliefs with that. It won't happen overnight.

"The big thing is, Ben (Dawson, the Academy’s head of coaching) and the staff here have been doing good things.

"For sure, there’ll be certain bits I’ll change over time, but consistency is the key for players.”