Watch Alan Shearer's coaching session here
Picture the scene. Alan Shearer steps up, places the ball on the spot and prepares to blast another penalty.
But this wasn't St James' Park, or even the Stadium of Light.
This was Benfield Sports College and 'Big Al' was up against West Jesmond AFC and our valiant goalkeeper Brian ‘The Muff’ Clough...
The build-up had begun weeks before when our BBC benefactors told us we would be meeting a ‘mystery guest’.
Talk of who it was gripped the ‘Celeste Azzuro’. Barry Horne and Warren Barton were mentioned, but many players were convinced it was Liverpool and Everton legend Gary Ablett. All would have been worthy and wise professors of the game, they surely could not have had the same impact as ‘Wor Alan’.
As the lads began their warm-up, one of the greatest ever goalscorers in the game made his way over to meet some of football’s biggest nobodies.
Bearing gifts, and possibly wondering what on earth he was doing on a bitter and windy Thursday night, the former England captain greeted a shell-shocked West Jesmond AFC.
Blowing his serious and solemn image out of the water, ‘Big Al’ quickly settled in with the boys taking part in the warm-ups and banter whilst explaining his lovely ‘St. Tropez’ tan.
“Don’t let me stop you” said the big man. “Just carry on as you normally would”. OK Alan. It’s perfectly normal for us to giggle like schoolgirls and train with the giddy energy of star-struck kids.
A quickly set up ‘one on one’ drill, saw Douggie Cranston open up with a corking finish. Up next was Dan T, who beat his man and slotted home before reeling away with Shearer’s trade mark one-armed salute. The big man was amused.
Then came the penalty shoot-out. Surely, there was only one man who could win it?
The boys each took their turn. Miss and you’re out. Half crashed out in the first round. Half again fell in the second. Pinging one off the post with power and precision, ‘Big Al’ showed his class.
The crowd also seemed to enjoy Marshy’s chipped rebound that hit Cloughie square in the face. The increasingly frustrated Muff, whose language had by now sent the BBC's 'bleep machine' into overdrive, did not share the same enthusiasm.
The final two were left. Centre half Chris Brown and Alan Shearer.
And so blocking out the booing WJ boys, the former Newcastle number 9 stepped up with confidence. Instead of the power and precision from the earlier rounds, he went for the clever ‘dink’. But standing his ground, was our very own ‘Muff Honk’ who gratefully caught the floating ball.
Muff’s delight was clear for all to see, although he did have a few problems getting the bloke on Five Live to understand him. You can listen to his appearance here.
Afterwards, a great Q&A session took place as Al (it’s ok for me to call him ‘Al’ – we’re mates) fielded the boys' queries about life, football and the future.
Then after a presentation of our amazing new Umbro kit to club captain ‘Le Box’ and a few team snaps, Shearer said his goodbyes.
Still in awe, the WJ boys made their way home with stories they will never forget. A great footballer and a great man.
Alan Shearer, we salute you...
Next week you'll be able to see the video of the great man putting us through our paces, as well as our Q&A with him, which is well worth a look.
Plus we'll get Alan to answer the best of your questions too. But keep 'em clean - or we'll send Cloughie round!
By Lee Marsh.
As a footnote, we've been lifted by Shearer's visit already, scoring a 5-2 cup win over Wardley Durham Rangers at the weekend.