By Dan Sheridan - Newcastle United Managing Editor
Newcastle United played host to some of Britain's Olympic heroes on Saturday, with three Team GB members paraded in front of the Toon Army at half-time.
Rowing gold medallist Sophie Hosking, who produced one of the Games' most iconic images after clinching first place alongside lightweight double sculls partner Kat Copeland, was joined on the pitch by water polo star Angie Winstanley-Smith and women's eight rower Jess Eddie.
The athletes received applause from all four sides of the stadium, and with the trio all having links to the Magpies, it was a fitting tribute following their heroics over the past few weeks.
Hosking, who graduated from Durham University in 2007, said: "I don't think I can quite take in what I've achieved. When I see the footage on television, I still don't really think that it's me - it seems like a different person.
"But we achieved the ultimate thing that we were aiming for and it was fantastic. We've had incredible support off the back of that, both for ourselves and for Team GB in general.
"I'm actually an AFC Wimbledon fan but I support Newcastle in the Premier League because they were my local team while I was up here.
"I know how passionate the fans are in the North-East, so to be able to go out onto the pitch in front of that many supporters was quite an honour."
Alongside Hosking, lifelong United fanatic Winstanley-Smith described the Geordie ovation as a "dream come true" having followed the team throughout her childhood in South Shields.
As the water polo centre-forward explained, she was introduced to the game at a young age thanks to the influence of her uncle - former Sheffield Wednesday defender and Burnley manager Jimmy Mullen.
"I'm a massive Newcastle fan," said the 27-year-old, "and have been since I was young. My uncle was a professional player and a manager, so I was brought up playing and watching football.
"Saturday was very different to when you're performing as you can't really soak in the crowd and the atmosphere because you're in the zone before you play.
"So to be able to take it all in at the Tottenham game was amazing. There were so many people in the stadium and it was just a sea of black and white shirts - it was brilliant.
"It's been a whirlwind few weeks for me and for water polo. It's gone from being an unknown sport to having so much publicity and support. It's been amazing."
Also joining her on the pitch was fellow Newcastle supporter Jess Eddie, who was part of the women's eight rowing team that came home in fifth position just over a fortnight ago.
The Durham-born 27-year-old admitted to being taken aback by the attention she received during London 2012, and insists the British people should take a bow for playing their part in the Games.
"We were used to just rowing up and down an empty lake with only our coach shouting at us," she said, "so to row at Eton Dorney in front of 30,000 people was something very special.
"We were getting applauded just making our way to the boat tents, and I think the first few days took us by surprise. But we got used to it and the public made it an unbelievable Olympics.
"We finished two weeks ago but people are still going crazy for it and talking about the Games.
"I'm still getting asked for pictures and autographs now. Someone asked me recently if I was fed up with that and I said no because the public helped us to get here and it was nice to be able to thank them today for what they've done."
And on her affiliation with the Magpies, Eddie added: "I've been a big Newcastle fan since I was little. I used to go down and watch the team train at Maiden Castle in Durham, so to go out on the pitch on Saturday was pretty special."