By James Martland
Collingwood students were surprised by Rafa Benitez last week when the Newcastle United manager arrived in Durham to officially open the new and improved Collingwood bar, as well as the crumb, which, although in use since the end of last year, had not been formally unveiled.
Benitez cut the ribbon on the Collingwood crumb before doing an interview with Talksport, where he stressed the importance of the facilities in encouraging participation in sport.
“I came to the college before and knew about the number of teams they have and the level of the teams. They told me about the possibility of the pitch and I liked it a lot. It is a good opportunity and hopefully, they will enjoy it.
“It is really good to see people who are practising sport so I think it is really important for them.”
Benitez made an effort to stop for photos and sign items, before posing for a picture alongside the whole football club. He also stayed to chat and take photos with every captain from both the women’s and men’s football teams, perhaps offering some tactical advice along the way.
Collingwood’s Sports Captain Ollie Godden was delighted to see Benitez open the new facilities, which he hopes will help the college achieve bigger and better things in sport in the near future.
“It’s a great occasion and obviously amazing to have Rafa Benitez down here opening the bar terrace and crumb, the lads loved it. It’s great that we have these facilities for students and the wider community to use, hopefully, it can spur us to more success in the future.”
Collingwood is home to 65 teams across 17 different sports, all of whom will use the facilities, which have been funded through alumni donations.
Palatinate Sport’s exclusive interview with Rafa Benitez in November 2016 can be found here.
Photograph: Samuel Kirkman