Widnes Vikings have revealed the design of their new Magic Weekend shirt with the help of captain, Kevin Brown, Newcastle United and England football legend Peter Beardsley and representatives from a number of North East community rugby league clubs.
Once again, Widnes are supporting the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and last year the Vikings raised £20,000 for the cancer charity by donating profits from sales of their 2015 Magic Weekend shirts.
This year every £10 donation to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation made through the Vikings’ ‘Tackling Cancer…I’m on it!” campaign will be rewarded with the donors’ name printed into the fabric of their 2016 special edition Magic Weekend shirt.
The jersey will once again carry the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation logo in place of its primary sponsor and the team will run out at St James’ Park wearing the shirts in May. A further donation will be made to the charity from the shirt sales, too.
As well as helping to launch the new shirts, in the week Sir Bobby would have turned 83 (18th February), Peter Beardsley has also revealed he is continuing his role as Vikings Magic Weekend Ambassador, having offered his services to Widnes Vikings for a second year running.
Beardsley, who was the Vikings’ official Magic Weekend Ambassador for the inaugural event at St James’ Park, was thrilled accept this role for a second time. He said: “What the Vikings did last year was incredible and would have made Sir Bobby very proud. The Vikings’ fans were brilliant at St James’ Park and the gesture that they made by supporting the initiative and raising so much money was phenomenal.
“I got a great deal of satisfaction from working with Widnes last year, it was a brilliant initiative.
“I took part in one of the community sessions at Walker Technology College with the Vikings’ coaches and players and it was brilliant. The attitude of the guys who took the session was something I’ve never really seen before. To see the coaches working and the players mixing with the kids was unbelievable.”
Talking about last year’s Magic Weekend, Beardsley commented: “Without a doubt, last year’s Magic Weekend generated a massive appetite for Rugby League in the North East.
“Everybody I spoke to who went said the atmosphere was amazing and different to anything they had experienced before. I can honestly say I didn’t speak to anybody who didn’t have a great time.
“You look at the colours in the crowd, ‘mixing in’ as we call it, and it was incredible how people just got on and had a beer together, it didn’t matter who they supported they just joined in.
“I don’t know who came up with the name ‘Magic Weekend’ but everybody I’ve spoken to said it lived up to its name and I think the work that the Vikings did last year certainly helped generate a lot of local interest. We love our sport in the North East and I think that was shown with the attendance last year. I honestly think that this year the crowds will be even better.”
Vikings’ Marketing Director, Brian O’Connor, was equally thrilled to have the ‘Toon’ icon on board once again.
Brian said: “Peter was an integral part of our campaign last year and I think we are really lucky to not only have a sporting legend as our ambassador, but a true Rugby League fan with an extensive knowledge of the game.
“What I really love is that he gets just as excited as us and has contributed enormously to this year’s campaign. Peter was genuinely thrilled to be invited to continue his role as Club Ambassador.”
And Peter had a special message to all supporters who are taking part in the ‘Tackling Cancer…#ImOnIt’ campaign.
Peter added: “What an incredible thing to be a part of – I don’t know how the Vikings are going to fit all those names on to be honest but it’s a class idea.
“I would like to thank everybody who donates and I think anybody who gets a place on that shirt should feel really proud to support such a great cause.”
Newcastle Thunder general manager, Keith Christie who helped co-ordinate the North East launch event commented:
“It’s great to be working with the Vikings in aid of a fabulous cause in the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. For the North East youngsters to have an opportunity to meet a Super League Captain of Kevin Browns stature is a great experience for them and something they will never forgret.
“It is opportunities such as this and the return of the First Utility Magic Weekend to the North East that will really help the sport to blossom in this region.”