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Sport Newcastle may have helped some household names in the early stages of their career but its overriding commitment is to the grassroots. Here are a few names who have made a major contribution to our sporting way of life.

Businessmen and brothers Ian and Roy Caller launched the cricket festivals in Jesmond that helped pave the way for the arrival of the first class game in the region.

Founder of business software giants Sage, Graham Wylie, has been a significant force in horseracing before transforming Close House Golf Club into an international venue.

Football scout Jack Hixon worked far from the spotlight discovering talent like Alan Shearer. Lennie Heppell was a unique coach who adapted his dancing prowess into improving the balance and movement of top sportsmen. Sid Evans in tennis and Joe Laws in judo devoted their lives to coaching their sports.

The major growth in university sport has been a signi cant in uence in the region with Stan Calvert at Newcastle and Ian Elvin at Northumbria both making major contributions to success at the highest level.

Many stories would have gone untold without the support of the local media. John Pargeter was a champion of rugby and golf in The Journal; BBC Newcastle’s George Bayley was an iconic voice in radio; John Gibson told Evening Chronicle readers everything they needed to know about Newcastle United.

Every two years Sport Newcastle salutes those who make such a priceless contribution to sport well away from the spotlight with its own Unsung Heroes awards.

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