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The Wallsend effect

By BBC Radio Newcastle's Matt Newsum

Peter Kirkley and clockwise from top left - Alan Shearer, Steve Bruce, Ian Bogie and Lee Clark
Kirkley (left) and four of the managerial stars from the Wallsend alumni - Shearer, Bruce, Clark and Bogie

Alan Shearer's appointment as manager of hometown club Newcastle United will have stirred some emotions down at Wallsend Boys Club, the place where 'Wor Al' developed as a player in his youth.

The club already has an enviable reputation as a breeding ground for talented footballers, and now a growing number of its alumni are beginning to find their feet in the cut-throat world of football management.

WBC is an organisation that has seen its talents go on to represent the city's professional club as players, win major honours and represent England at the World Cup and European Championships, but managing the Magpies is the holy grail.

In taking the reins Shearer follows in the managerial footsteps of fellow Wallsend graduates such as Steve Bruce - currently bossing Wigan to a potentially highest-ever finish, Lee Clark - who is shaping a squad capable of promotion to the Championship at Huddersfield and Ian Bogie - whose Gateshead side top Blue Square North.

One man who has seen and helped nurture some of the region's most impressive players is Peter Kirkley.

Alan will tell you what he wants and he'll make sure he gets what he wants out of the players

Wallsend Boys Club coach Peter Kirkley

Kirkley is a friendly, affable Geordie, a Wallsend stalwart and a scout who has been a key factor in Middlesbrough's highly successful scouting programme and who continues to help out at Newcastle in a similar capacity.

He believes one of the secrets to the Wallsend way is the manner in which youngsters are developed at the club, on and off the field.

"When youngsters come in they're issued with a set of club rules, and those rules are stuck to, no matter what," he told BBC Radio Newcastle.

"Unconsciously we have made them into not just good footballers, but good citizens too.

"A few years ago a TV company asked some of the club's ex-players - Steve Watson who was at Villa, Alan Thompson and Robbie Elliott were at Bolton, and Peter Beardsley - 'What one thing did you learn from Wallsend?' and they all said - 'Discipline'."

Unsurprisingly, Shearer's exemplary record as a player bears all the hallmarks of a Wallsend upbringing, with just two red cards in 18 years of professional football.

That grounding, along with Shearer's desire, were the key factors in his success as a forward for Southampton, Blackburn, Newcastle and England.

And it is the combination of those qualities which Kirkley hopes and believes will benefit Shearer during his managerial career.

"There will be no messing about, he'll want everything done properly, he'll tell you what he wants and he'll make sure he gets what he wants out of the players," he said.

"He'll have put a lot of thought into this, this won't have just been sprung on him and he'll have thought about who he wants to work with and he's his own man.

"What he has is this unbelievable belief. He, more than anything, got himself into being a player and that's carried on and I'm sure in the management side he'll do the same things."

Despite all the successes, Kirkley and his colleagues remain humble about the achievements of 'graduates' from the club.

The list may continue to grow, but the view of the staff is that they have merely laid the foundations and that the players, and now managers themselves, have taken the extra steps.

"We've never looked on ourselves as being special but we've always worked in a successful area."

"Unbelievably, all the boys have come within five miles of the club, and they've all come from within that area.

"Any success has been down to them, we've laid the rules out, and they've been successful by the work they've put in."



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