Jeff Stelling

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

Every weekend, Jeff Stelling talks football with legends of the game and on Wednesday night the popular Soccer Saturday presenter will be joined by Magpies stars past and present as he hosts the inaugral Newcastle United Foundation Hall of Fame dinner.

The North-East born anchorman has become a cult figure with fans all over the country for his in-depth knowledge and banter with the likes of Phil Thompson, Matt Le Tissier, Paul Merson and Charlie Nicholas as the goals go in from the Barclays Premier League to Scotland's third division.

At a star-studded event at St. James' Park, he will be joined by Alan Shearer, Peter Beardsley, Bob Moncur and Faustino Asprilla as well as current Newcastle players including Shola Ameobi, Ryan Taylor, Jonas Gutierrez, Yoan Gouffran and Gael Bigirimana.

There are five categories in total across the Foundation's Hall of Fame, with five nominated players being inducted alongside two legendary teams, a revered manager and two special individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the community and grassroots football.

And Stelling is looking forward to holding together the prestigious event - which is supported by one of the region's leading leisure organisations, the Malhotra Group - in his usual slick style.

"You can probably expect a few less stats than usual and a bit of humour," he smiled. "The idea is that it's an important night and it's important to the Newcastle United Foundation. But the big thing is, let's have a bit of fun while we're there!

"It's so important clubs are taking their work in the community so seriously. There can't be a club that's more important to its community than Newcastle. It's fantastic that they are so involved in educational work, charitable work and showing kids how they can live their lives.

"Footballers and football clubs can set a fantastic example for everyone. I know from being on the fringes of the game that footballers get a bad press and people don't hear half of the fantastic things that they do. I think it's great that they're so involved now."

Stelling makes no secret of his support for League One strugglers Hartlepool United, but Wednesday night will be all about celebrating the successes of the Magpies.

"My favourite memories are things like the joys of talking to Sir Bobby Robson," he said. "It was just such a delight to be in his company. He was such a passionate, infectious guy who had a great sense of humour as well. That stands out.

"Newcastle have had some tough times but people have some fantastic memories because there have been some fantastic players. Over the years, I look back at some of the great number nines, remembering all the way back to people like Wyn Davies, Malcolm Macdonald and so on and so forth.

"Obviously the Entertainers team, the David Ginola team, that was special and everyone remembers that night at Anfield. I remember it vividly. I was down in Plymouth covering snooker and trying to find a pub where I could watch Liverpool v Newcastle in one of the dodgiest parts of the city was not easy. Lots of great memories."

As for the current side, Stelling is full of praise for the job done by Alan Pardew and believes they will finish the campaign strongly after a slow start in the league.

He said: "In the summer, I was convinced Newcastle were going to have another fantastic season. A lot of people disagreed and it looked like they would be right. But it looks as if they've really turned a corner and it looks like some incredibly astute signings have done the business, which is great.

"Alan Pardew's been absolutely brilliant since he's been there. There were eyebrows raised when he was appointed but he's won everybody over - me included.

"As far as Newcastle are concerned now, it's a case of onwards and upwards and how far up the table they can finish."

Not only is Stelling hosting the event, he has also joined the Malhotra Group and the club's technical partner Puma in donating an incredible auction prize.

On offer is a Sky Sports Soccer Saturday live experience including flights and accommodation, along with an exclusive three-course home fine dining experience with head chef Lee Bell from Louis' Restaurant in Jesmond, including food and waitress service and a signed pair of running spikes from the world's fastest man, Usain Bolt.

All funds raised from the night will go to the Newcastle United Foundation, which supports more than 38,000 disadvantaged children, young people and families throughout the region every year.