Newcastle United Fans Foodbank humbly presents a night featuring the spirit of the people, their unity in adversity and the  songs of “Close the Coalhouse Door”, which was first performed in Newcastle 50 years ago, the year before we won the Fairs Cup! The play was written by Alan Plater from stories by Sid Chaplin with songs by Alex Glasgow. Sid’s playwright son Michael Chaplin, will help with an introduction.

The songs and stories are particularly appropriate in a venue which was once a coalfield community, but now distributes food in Britain’s biggest foodbank. The church, featured in Ken Loach’s film “I Daniel Blake”, may not be the most glamourous cultural venue on Tyneside, but it is now perhaps, the most important. Its other distribution centre, in Benwell, is next door to “The Towers”, the old mines rescue service HQ, now better known as “Byker Grove”, where our friends Ant and Dec started. Newcastle West End Foodbank, which will benefit from all proceeds from the night, feeds 1000 people a week in our city, about 450 of them, children. The West End Foodbank receives about 20% of its income from Newcastle United Fans Foodbank who collect at home matches and other events like this.

The West End of Newcastle is a very different place from 50 years ago, but the multi-cultured, generous Geordies who live there now have helped the Foodbank since it started. The “ToonAid” initiative which was started and run by members of Newcastle’s Bengali community raised £50,000 for the Foodbank last Christmas and is trying to double that this year. Their presence symbolises the truth that even though we may have lost the coal, we still have our community spirit. Newcastle United, players and fans, are a multinational team of all creeds and colours. We are Black and White.

The night features the voice of Benny Graham, backed by Tony Corcoran and Paul Hetherington. Benny is the greatest singer of Northern Coalfield songs and ballads alive today; he introduces and comperes the Durham Miners Gala every year. He will be backed by Tony Corcoran, the best and most powerful Irish fiddle player in Britain. Tony used to live over the road In Wingrove Avenue, he knew Alex Glasgow very well and heard the stories of the area from his (pit rescue man’s-daughter) wife Brenda and her Mam. Paul Hetherington on piano underpins the music with his expressive and sensitive backing.

Alan Plater said that “some plays refuse to lie down”; neither will our people. It costs £5 to feed a family the basics for one week; 10p will buy a tin of beans, and it costs £10,000 per month to feed, help and support everyone, but this is being done from friends and supporters at home and all over the world. The presence of foodbanks is an obscenity in Great Britain in the 21st Century. Our shame as a society that they do exist is tempered by the pride that the people together, fans and communities, have and continue to do something about this. We hope that foodbanks will be abolished as unnecessary as soon as possible and that we can live together without want. Until then, we remind people that there’s more to life than just food and, as well as sustenance, we aim to give toiletries, hope, culture, music, art, community, sport, aspirations, sympathy and, above all dignity. We are United.

We look forward to seeing you at a very special and important evening.

Church of the Venerable Bede, West Road, Newcastle upon Tyne. NE4 8AP.

Friday 5th October Doors open 7pm – 10pm.

Admission £12, £10 concessions. Some will be free for Foodbank users.

Tickets available on Eventbrite, (plus booking fee), in person from the Tyneside Irish Centre and at NUFC Fans Foodbank pre-match collections vs Arsenal and Leicester.

Get your ticket here

There are only 100 tickets available, this will sell out.

Howay the Lads.