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Wearside club 'will not contact Ched Evans' after petition

Former Sheffield United striker Ched Evans was convicted of rape Credit: PA

The secretary of a non-league football club on Wearside has told ITV his club will not contact the convicted rapist Ched Evans, after nearly 20,000 people signed a petition against it.

It was reported that Ashbrooke Belford House FC in Sunderland wanted to offer Ched Evans a position, saying he deserved a second chance.

The former Sheffield United striker was released from prison last year after serving half his five-year sentence for rape.

A petition set up by Jean Hatchet, from London, asked the non-league side: "Please show rape survivors you care about them more than club profit and league success." It was signed by more than 19,400 people in two days.

The club secretary of Ashbrooke Belford House FC, Adrian Forster, told ITV: "We have had no contact with Ched Evans and will not be contacting him."

The side plays in the Wearside Football League, in the twelfth tier of English football, seven leagues below the Football League.

Previous clubs that expressed an interest in signing Ched Evans included Oldham Athletic and Hartlepool United.

Alder collection makes thousands for Sir Bobby charity

John Alder

Newcastle United memorabilia belonging to John Alder has made £26 thousand at auction.

All the money is going to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

Bidders from across the UK and as far afield as Singapore, Dubai and Vancouver vied for the lots.

John Alder, from Low Fell, died when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine in July last year. He was travelling with fellow fan Liam Sweeney to watch Newcastle United play in a pre-season tournament in New Zealand.

John missed just one Newcastle United game, home and away, in 40 years. He was also an avid collector of football memorabilia and his home was full of boxes of carefully stored match programmes. His family donated the collection to help the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

Tyneside based auctioneers Anderson and Garland Auctioneers staged the event at St James’ Park today (Sunday 22 February). Thousands of match programmes, tickets and books went under the hammer, dating from 1920s to the present day.

Memorabilia owned by John Alder
Lady Elsie with John Alder's sister Joyce Robbins

Joyce Robbins, John’s sister, says: “We’ve got mixed emotions today really. This collection was so precious to John. I don’t think even he would know what we should do with it. It was his passion.

“When we first went to the house after he died we got a shock. We knew he was collecting but it seemed to have spread all over the house. We were a bit overwhelmed and didn’t know what to do with it all. My daughter suggested we donate it to charity and the rest of the family.

“I’m very touched that people have got behind this auction and stunned by all the help we’ve received.”

Lady Elsie says: “We’re very proud that John’s family donated his marvellous collection to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

“It was a hugely generous and thoughtful gesture and the money raised will go on to help other people through the charity.

“I know today was bitter sweet for John’s family. We’re very grateful to them and to everyone who has contributed to making this auction such a success.”

John’s extensive collection included match programmes from 1924 onwards, which he sought from other collectors as well a tremendous volume of programmes and tickets from games he attended over 40 years following Newcastle United.

These include rarities from pre-season friendly fixtures, like Newcastle United's tour of Southern Africa during 1952, to John’s one and only NUFC scarf.

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Police thank Middlesbrough and Leeds fans

Cleveland Police have thanked home and away fans following today’s Middlesbrough vs Leeds fixture.

Officers on the ground say they enjoyed a vibrant and positive atmosphere, which was in keeping with the 'family friendly approach' taken by police and Middlesbrough Football Club.

There were two arrests during the game and one after the final whistle, including a 39-year-old who man was arrested in connection with an offence involving a flare being lighted. All three remain in custody.

Superintendent Mark Thornton said: “The majority of fans have been fantastic today and have worked with us to ensure that the match goes ahead safely and that the focus was on football, not disorder.

“We police football based on the intelligence we receive, and our response today was proportionate. I’m extremely proud of all involved, especially officers on the ground who have been engaging with fans from early this morning.

“I would like to thank Middlesbrough Football Club for their ongoing support, and Leeds United Football Club and fans for their co-operation.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger spent the day with officers to see the scale and scope of the policing operation around today’s match.

He said: “From the briefing at 8am this morning and throughout the day I have been really impressed with the level of skill, dedication and meticulous planning that our officers put into operations of this nature.

“A huge amount of work goes on behind the scenes, just to keep the streets of Cleveland safe. It’s testament to our officers, with support from Middlesbrough Football Club, who have made sure that today’s game passed without serious incident.”

'Wide open race' expected in Eider Chase at Newcastle

Tomorrow's Eider Chase at Newcastle could be a 'wide open race', according to the Clerk of the Course.

The Eider Chase is a 4m 1f race which is dubbed as a warm-up event for the Grand National at Aintree. Comply or Die won the event in 2008 before going on to win the National that same year.

James Armstrong, Clerk of the Course at Newcastle, says it's a strong field for the race.

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Middlesbrough back on top of the Championship

Middlesbrough survived a sending off and came from behind against Birmingham tonight, February 18, to earn a draw and go top of the Championship table.

Boro's goalkeeeper Dimi Konstantopoulos was given a red card for bringing Birmingham striker Clayton Donaldson down and Paul Caddis converted the resulting penalty for the Blues just before half-time.

Middlesbrough's Patrick Bamford (facing) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game against Birmingham City with George Friend Credit: PA Wire

Patrick Bamford then went on to score a second-half equaliser with less than 17 minutes of full time left and the game finished 1-1.

Middlesbrough extend their unbeaten run to nine games and reclaim the place at the top of the table by a single point.

Richards 'delighted' over Powell contract extension

Newcastle Falcons boss Dean Richards is 'delighted' that centre Adam Powell has committed his future to the club.

The 28-year-old has signed a two-year contract extension with the Falcons, keeping him at Kingston Park until at least 2017.

Director of Rugby, Dean Richards, said:

Delighted Adam's decided to stay with us for another few years.

He's one of these boys who just loves watching rugby, playing it and you can't get him away from the game.

– Dean Richards, Director of Rugby at Newcastle Falcons
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