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2016

October 2016

  1. Foundation of Light Trustees approve start of work on Beacon

    Work Starts on Beacon of Light

    The Beacon of Light passed another important milestone at the weekend when Trustees of the charity approved the start of construction at a meeting at the Stadium of Light. Tolent Construction who won the tender…

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    The Beacon of Light passed another important milestone at the weekend when Trustees of the charity approved the start of construction at a meeting at the Stadium of Light.

    Tolent Construction who won the tender to build the Beacon, which will fuse together sport, education, the world of work, health and well-being, are expected to move onto site next to the Stadium of Light during the week.

    Sir Bob Murray said: “The Beacon of Light will be a first for the Foundation and for the region, so we’re thrilled to be moving on site and starting work this week.

    “We are immensely grateful to our patrons, benefactors, sponsors and supporters for backing us. It has been heartening to work with so many likeminded people who share values, and who want to make a lasting difference to people in the northeast. Their vision and generosity will inspire many more people to learn more, do more and be more, and will change countless lives.

    The striking cube-shaped development will be the first building of its kind in the country and house education and training facilities with an indoor football pitch above. When they enter the Beacon, visitors will be presented with a busy street along which the various activities will interconnect. Inspirational and motivational zones for education, the world of work, health and wellbeing, sport and play will combine together with excellent views into a sports arena.

    Trustee Sir Tim Rice added, “The Beacon will be a landmark destination delivering a meaningful and lasting legacy and it will represent a significant step change for the charity in terms of what we will be able to deliver in the future.”

    http://www.foundationoflight.co.uk/Beacon-of-Light/latest-beacon-news/

     

     

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  1. Sir-Aly-Ramsey-Way-3

    On The Road To….

    Sir Bob was at St George’s Park on 5th October for a special road naming ceremony. In this 50th anniversary year since England’s 1966 World Cup victory, the FA is renaming the main road into…

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    Sir Bob was at St George’s Park on 5th October for a special road naming ceremony.

    In this 50th anniversary year since England’s 1966 World Cup victory, the FA is renaming the main road into St George’s Park after Sir Alf Ramsey.

    FA Chairman, Greg Clarke hosted the naming ceremony to unveil the special road name which was followed by a lunch at the Hilton with many of the players and families of the 1966 squad in attendance.  Following the lunch, the 1966 guests were taken on a short tour of the elite facilities.  

    “It was very apt and an honour to be rubbing shoulders with members of our 1966 team at St George’s Park. These players achieved the greatest feat in football without the elite training facilities players of today now enjoy – and we all hope we can emulate their historic achievement and success again in the future.”

    Sir Bob was the Project Director for the development of St George’s Park and remains a property advisor to the FA and Wembley.

    http://www.thefa.com/St-Georges-Park

     

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2014

April 2014

  1. Chester-le-Street annual dinner

    Sir Bob enjoyed a wonderful evening at the annual sporting dinner held by the Chester-le-Street branch of the Sunderland Supporters’ Association. The dinner was organised by fans and attended by many red-and-white supporters as well…

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    Sir Bob enjoyed a wonderful evening at the annual sporting dinner held by the Chester-le-Street branch of the Sunderland Supporters’ Association.

    The dinner was organised by fans and attended by many red-and-white supporters as well as representatives from the club.

    Sir Bob said: “I had a fantastic evening and it was great to catch up with so many people, including former Sunderland manager Denis Smith.

    “The atmosphere was great and we were all chatting about the match at Manchester City from the previous night. Many of us were all still reeling from their late goal which cost us the game!”

    Click below to read Sunderland Echo Sport Writer Graeme Anderson’s review of the evening.

    Chester le Street Dinner

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2013

December 2013

  1. Goodbye to the Football Echo

    Sir Bob has lamented the passing of the Football Echo, a paper which has followed the highs and lows of Sunderland AFC since 1907. After 106 years, the Football Echo has been printed for the…

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    Sir Bob has lamented the passing of the Football Echo, a paper which has followed the highs and lows of Sunderland AFC since 1907.

    After 106 years, the Football Echo has been printed for the final time and will make the transition online in the New Year.

    Sir Bob commented on the loss of the weekly paper, saying: “I’ll be really sorry when it’s gone. It was an institution and something every Sunderland fan wanted to see on a Saturday night – especially if we’d won.

    “It was often the catalyst for discussion in pubs and clubs, with people agreeing or disagreeing about what had been written.

    “My Dad took me to my first Sunderland match in 1954. We were playing the team of the day, Wolverhampton Wanderers and the atmosphere was terrific, with the Roker Roar in full voice. That was it, I was hooked and I suppose I’d have seen my first Football Echo soon after that.

    “I know that four years later Sunderland were relegated for the first time, and the Footy, to that point printed in pink, went white with shock.

    “I’ve been getting the paper for 58 years. I used to wait at Ibbetsons, with my savaloy, after the game, waiting for the paper to come out in the low times in the early 1960’s.

    “One edition I do remember well is the one from May 5, 1973 – the day we won the FA Cup. The Footy Echo’s headline was ‘They’ve done it” and that summed up the feeling of the whole town.

    “What the current writers and the reporters of yesteryear – including the famous Argus – have always done is more than just report every kick. They’ve captured the spirit of each game, the chants of the crowd, what the away support was like and how the officials performed. You almost felt you were there, which was invaluable for those who couldn’t get to every home or away game.

    “And one thing was for certain, no matter where we are on Match of the Day the Football Echo has always put Sunderland first and last.

    “Wherever I’ve lived, I’ve always had the Footy Echo posted to me. The coverage was always in-depth, comprehensive and interesting. The Footy Echo also provided a platform for readers to have their say: although when I was chairman of the club I didn’t always agree with what was being said, it was an important forum for fans, especially in the days before the internet.

    “It has chronicled the ups and downs and ins and outs of the club for so long, it’s hard to think of life as a Sunderland fan without it. I know it was one of only one or two remaining Saturday afternoon football papers, and I remember when most evening papers had similar publications. I think it has survived so long because it did its job so well – and because of the close relationship between club, fans and the Footy Echo.

    “During my time at the club, we treated the Footy Echo very seriously and tried to help the Echo writers by providing players and staff for interviews. We saw it as a way of keeping supporters informed and involved. It was a valuable platform for the club and was very much party of our long and valued relationship with the Sunderland Echo.

    “I also think it has played a vital role in shining a light on the dozens, if not hundreds, of non-league games being played on Wearside and beyond over a weekend. It provided a valuable service for these teams, often being the source of was in the team and who wasn’t and where the games were to be played, and when, for Sunday morning teams and others.

    “It helped maintain interest in these leagues and, over the years, probably helped kept them going.

    “I can understand the financial pressures on it in these days of saturation coverage of the Premier League and so few games scheduled for Saturday afternoons, but it’s still a blow.

    “I’ll be genuinely sorry to see it go, and I’m sure all Sunderland fans will be too.”

     

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October 2013

  1. Sir Bob's invitation to the FA's 150th anniversary gala dinner

    The FA celebrates 150th Anniversary

      The FA celebrated its 150th anniversary in October and Sir Bob attended a prestigious gala dinner in London to mark the special occasion. The celebration took place at The Grand Connaught Rooms on 26th…

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    Sir Bob’s invitation to the FA’s 150th anniversary gala dinner

    The FA celebrated its 150th anniversary in October and Sir Bob attended a prestigious gala dinner in London to mark the special occasion.

    The celebration took place at The Grand Connaught Rooms on 26th October, on the site where the FA was founded 150 years ago, and guests included leading FA officials and figures from football past and present.

    Bob, who served on the Wembley Board and was appointed Project Director of St George’s Park by The FA in 2008, said; “The FA is the oldest football association in the world and I was delighted to be invited to celebrate 150 years.

    “In recent years The FA has made a very significant investment in football infrastructure in this country to create facilities the nation can be proud of.

    “The new Wembley Stadium opened in 2007 and I personally think it is the best stadium in the world.  Just as importantly, it has invested in flagship facilities to develop players and coaches from grassroots level to elite football with the opening of St George’s Park at Burton.  I hope this will be a good omen for the next 150 years.”

     

     

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July 2013

  1. Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Prince George of Cambridge

    Royal seal of approval for St George’s

      Sir Bob Murray was appointed as Project Director of St George’s Park in 2008 due to his vast experience in the football industry and in stadia and property development. St George’s Park was officially…

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    Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Prince George of Cambridge

     

    Sir Bob Murray was appointed as Project Director of St George’s Park in 2008 due to his vast experience in the football industry and in stadia and property development.

    St George’s Park was officially opened by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on 9th October 2012 and Bob and his wife Sue had the honour of spending time with the royal couple.

    “Sue and I were introduced to the Duke and Duchess and had the opportunity to speak to them for them for a long time. There was something glowing about them both and it wasn’t long after we met that the news the Duchess of Cambridge was expecting their first baby was revealed.

    “It was wonderful to hear that they had welcomed their first child into the world in July and to later hear he was going to be called Prince George, said Bob.

    “It did make me smile when I heard the name as it reminded me of Prince William asking me all about the inspiration for the name of St George’s Park last year. The Centre was originally called the National Football Centre but the FA gave me the privilege of naming it St George’s Park.

    “The Duke of Cambridge asked me where the name had come from when we were chatting and I replied for King and Country, Sir!”

    “I understand that the Prince was named after the Queen’s father, George VI and in choosing a name borne by six previous Kings, as well as England’s patron saint, the couple chose well.”

    Since its opening St George’s Park has earned plaudits from across sport and the globe for the quality of its facilities as well as the hope that it has injected into the future of English football.

     

    Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, David Bernstein, Chairman of FA, Sir Bob and Lady Murray at opening of St George’s Park

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May 2013

  1. charles_alcock_sm

    Campaign to honour Charles Alcock

    The forgotten hero who created the world’s most famous club competition is to be honoured forty years after SAFC won the FA Cup. Sir Bob has been championing the cause of Charles William Alcock, a…

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    The forgotten hero who created the world’s most famous club competition is to be honoured forty years after SAFC won the FA Cup.

    Sir Bob has been championing the cause of Charles William Alcock, a Sunderland-born pioneer of the ‘beautiful game.’ Not only was Alcock behind the FA Cup, he also organised the first international football match.

    “Not many people know the name Charles William Alcock, that he was one of the founding fathers of modern-day football or that he came from Sunderland. His name is not synonymous with modern day football or sport, but perhaps it should be,” said Sir Bob.

    Charles W. Alcock was born in Norfolk Street in Sunderland in 1842, one of five sons of a shipbuilder originally from Durham. The family moved from Sunderland to London during the 1850s.

    “Alcock made a huge contribution to football and was a pioneer of modern football playing styles. He was responsible for the first ever international football match, but probably more apt this year as Sunderland celebrates the 40th Anniversary of their win, he created The FA Cup,” explained Sir Bob.

    Alcock devoted his life to sport first as a player and later as an influential and leading administrator and also a journalist. He guided The FA and his progressive thinking led to the rapid development of the national game and modern playing styles and the establishment of league football.

    He joined the FA Committee in 1866 and was appointed Honorary Secretary of The FA in 1870 and served in that role until 1895. He conceived and established the FA Cup, and even captained the first ever winning side, Wanderer’s at The Oval in 1872. He later refereed the 1875 and 1879 Finals.

    He also captained England in the first ever international football match against Scotland in 1870, although this game is considered unofficial by football historians and doesn’t appear in any record books. Nonetheless the match paved the way for the first officially recognised international match between Scotland and England in 1872. Alcock was selected to captain the England side but missed out due to injury.

    In 1895 he was appointed Vice President of The FA and 26 years later toured with England when the side visited Berlin and Prague for the first time. As part of his enormous contribution to sport he was also the Secretary of Surrey CCC from 1872 and helped arrange the first ever Test Match to be played in England.

     “I’ve always enjoyed a great working relationship with The FA and was delighted to be asked to get involved with the development of the new Wembley Stadium and more recently St George’s Park,” said Sir Bob

    “But, I always believed Charles Alcock deserved more recognition and have mentioned his name to a few people over the years. I recently decided to write to the FA Chairman David Bernstein to ask him to install a plaque or something befitting this eminent man at Wembley Stadium.

    “David wrote back to me and wholeheartedly agrees that Alcock made an incredibly important contribution to the history of our game and confirmed – after discussing it with the Executive Team leading The FA’s 150th Anniversary Celebrations – that he will be honoured in a number of ways this year.

    “I’m thrilled that Charles Alcock will finally get the recognition he so truly deserves.

    “The FA has given its full support to the restaging of the first FA Cup Final that Alcock was responsible for at The Oval between Royal Engineers and Wanderers. There could be no more fitting a venue for the commemoration of this match than The Oval, where Alcock also served Surrey CCC with such distinction as well.”

    In partnership with the National Football Museum The FA is also undertaking a significant project to find out more about the founding fathers of football and The FA. The project will be launched later in the year and this could include a permanent tribute being made to honour Alcock – and other founding fathers – at Wembley.

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April 2013

  1. St George's Park - General views of the football training facilities and hotel complex during a media event

    SAFC legend visits St George’s Park

          A former Sunderland AFC legend has visited the new National Football Centre, St George’s Park, after receiving an invitation from Sir Bob. Marco Gabbiadini, one of Sunderland’s most memorable key players, was…

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    A former Sunderland AFC legend has visited the new National Football Centre, St George’s Park, after receiving an invitation from Sir Bob.

    Marco Gabbiadini, one of Sunderland’s most memorable key players, was impressed with the new FA coaching headquarters; “The stunning facilities make an old pro like me almost shed a tear!”

    In 2004 Bob was appointed Project Director for St George’s Park to drive delivery of the project on time and to budget, due to his experience in the football industry and stadia development.

    The Centre, located in Burton, was officially opened in October 2012 by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

    During Marco’s visit there was an Under-13s Premier League tournament with 12 teams from all over Europe, as well as a Cerebral Palsy football tournament.

    The Norwich City football squad were there too, using the hotel and training facilities to prepare for their fixture against Stoke.

    Speaking of St George’s Park, Marco said;

     “All this inclusive activity means English football has a solid base to work from and develop and we should be proud that a son of Sunderland has had such a big hand in its delivery.”

     

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2012

October 2012

  1. 2012-2

    The opening of St George’s Park

    The FA’s national football centre, St George’s Park, was officially opened by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on 9th October 2012. Bob and his wife Sue officially welcomed the Royal couple. The Duke of…

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    Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

    Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, David Bernstein, Chairman of FA, Sir Bob and Lady  Murray at opening of St George’s Park

    The FA’s national football centre, St George’s Park, was officially opened by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on 9th October 2012. Bob and his wife Sue officially welcomed the Royal couple.

    The Duke of Cambridge opened the new £105 million training base in Burton-Upon-Trent, which was completed in July in his capacity as President of the Football Association.

    The new National Football Centre is a state-of-the-art training complex which boasts 12 full size training pitches, a multisport indoor hall, five gyms and the only FIFA accredited Centre of Medical Excellence in the country. The 330 acre site also includes two top class hotels, Hilton and Hampton by Hilton.

    Sir Bob was appointed Project Director for St George’s Park by the Football Association in November 2008 due to his wealth of football experience and his expertise in building world class football stadia and property development background.

    Sir Bob said: “I am thrilled that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge could join us to celebrate the opening of St George’s Park and to show their support for this incredible sporting facility.”

    “St George’s Park may have been a long time in coming but it was worth the wait. It is a masterpiece of design and function, merging high quality architectural standards with exacting operational demands. We not only have the most stylish football centre in the world but one that works on all levels and will deliver exceptional results.”

    England manager Roy Hodgson and his squad used the training facilities for the first time ahead of their 2014 World Cup qualification game against San Marino on 12th October.

     

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July 2012

  1. Academy of Light hydrotherapy suite

    Academy of Light awarded top status

    Sir Bob Murray was delighted when the Academy of Light, SAFC’s world class training facility, was awarded category one status, the highest possible rating under the new EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan) system. The EPPP…

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    Sir Bob Murray was delighted when the Academy of Light, SAFC’s world class training facility, was awarded category one status, the highest possible rating under the new EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan) system. The EPPP is a long-term strategy designed to take Premier League Youth Development to the next level and the rankings were introduced for the first time in 2012. Only a handful of Premier League sides have achieved the top ranking status to date.

     

    Academy of Light hydrotherapy suite

    “I’m thrilled that the Academy of Light has been recognised in this way and awarded the highest possible performance ranking”, he said.

    “The Academy plans were ambitious from the outset, originally including a full size indoor and hostel, because we knew how important the Academy would be in the long-term.  I know at times some supporters couldn’t understand why getting the stadium right initially, and then the academy was so important. But they were and are crucial if Sunderland is to compete successfully at the highest level for many decades to come. The stadium is the theatre, and the training ground is where we train and develop the stars.

    “The Academy is a world apart from the club’s former training grounds, the Charlie Hurley Centre that I had to personally fund for the club from my own resources  and which just consisted of 2 pitches and temporary buildings including a dilapidated pavilion; or the training facility I inherited in 1986, which was just a single field at Cleadon. In those days the players had to use the dressing room at Roker Park, drive to Cleadon to train and back again to shower afterwards. I can’t imagine any top players contemplating that these days!

    “Sunderland’s story is very similar to that of the national team. England faced the same challenges and they are the reason why I was asked to join the Wembley Board to help secure the funding and award the contract for Wembley, and later why I was asked to be Project Director for St George’s Park.

    “I feel great pride about the local players that have graduated from the Academy such as Jordan Henderson and know we’d never sold a player for £19m before it was built!”

    Commenting on the award of EPPP category one status Sunderland AFC chief executive Margaret Byrne added, “The Academy that you (Sir Bob) built has enabled our staff to work in a world class facility and strive for excellence. This is a massive achievement as we are recognised as one of the best academies in the country to develop footballers. It will also be worldwide recognition for our Academy.”

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