By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
At the end of September, Newcastle's players and staff went in front of the cameras for their annual squad photo, and were joined by four special guests.
Club Members Sam Mullen and Ross Tweddell, along with Junior Magpies Jack Bryan and Jason Potts were prize winners in the Club's Money-Can't-Buy initiative for August.
The reward was a place alongside their heroes in United's annual squad photo, and each Member sent us a few words about a day which will live long in their memories.
"When I got there I was so excited.
"First, I went where all the players eat their breakfast and then I went outside to be in the squad photo.
"I arrived at the training ground early to make sure I saw the players drive in, and as a massive petrol head it was interesting to see what each player drives.
"An unexpected surprise was around the corner as we had breakfast with the players. At first it was nerve-wracking but the manager welcomed us all with open arms. The little things like seeing the camaraderie between the players and seeing what they all eat for breakfast was interesting.
"The photo itself was excellent, having every single member of the squad looking at me as I was walking towards them is a moment I will never forget. John Carver was cracking a few jokes - he is a funny man.
"The manager then let us watch training for a while which was another unexpected surprise. Seeing the drills they went through, a matter of hours after playing at Old Trafford, made me appreciate what great athletes they really are.
"Meeting a few of the squad members and getting their autographs was also a treat. The mannerisms of each player was refreshing to see. The manager has assembled a squad of down to earth, humble people, there are no 'big time charlies' at our Club.
"Receiving a limited edition FIFA13 cover is something I will cherish, and getting it signed by one of the players on the cover - Papiss Cisse - was a bonus.
"It really was a day I will never forget, it was a privilege to be there!"
"I arrived at the training ground in the morning and was taken into a room where the entire team were having breakfast.
"Alan Pardew greeted all of the competition winners on our way in. It was a surreal moment sitting a room filled with players that I go to watch play every week and definitely something that most people outside of the football world will never experience.
"We all had tea and coffee as we waited for the players to finish eating their breakfast and to get ready for the team photo.
"Steve Harper then came in and rounded up all of the players to hurry up and get ready for the photo.
"We then went outside to get ready for the team photo as the players made their way out. Every player lined up for the photo and once the official photo had been taken it was time for me to join and have my photo taken with the team.
"It was a very exciting moment to standing with every Newcastle player. After all of the photos had been taken, Alan Pardew and John Carver came over and asked if we would like to watch the team train.
"Of course, everyone was very eager to watch this so everyone gladly took Pardew up on his offer. Before we watched the team go through their paces we able to meet some of the team.
"Every player that I met that day was very friendly and always happy to pose for a photo or sign an autograph.
"After we had watched the team train it was the end of a very enjoyable morning. I will remember this one-off experience forever and the team photo with me in will take pride of place on my bedroom wall."
David and Claire Bryan (Jack's parents)
"When we received the email informing us our ten-year-old son Jack had won the Money-Can't-Buy experience we viewed it with a mixture of disbelief and suspicion, and only after receiving a follow-up email to our response did we finally believe he'd won.
"We waited until Jack arrived home from school and rather than tell him, we asked him to read the email out loud. He got halfway through the email before it dawned on him he'd won, his voice tailing off as he danced around the room with excitement.
"On Thursday, 27th September, we arrived at the Club's training headquarters, disappointingly I failed to convince security I was a new signing before we informed him our son was one of the prize winners.
"We were advised to park in the overflow car park and wait for someone from public relations, who arrived shortly later. On a damp and chilly Autumnal morning we were given a warm welcome from Ollie Stapleton (partnerships executive) and a quick briefing of expected etiquette for the day.
"We were then escorted to the players' canteen where Alan Pardew and several players were enjoying some banter and refreshments. Alan Pardew came over and chatted to the children and they gazed round the room, barely able to believe they were sitting in the same room as their heroes.
"We were led to the pitch areas and the players arrived for the squad photos.
"The photographer struggled to maintain order among the players but eventually he managed to suppress the horseplay and the pictures of the squad - and those featuring the prize winners - were eventually taken. The boys were invited to watch training and managed to collect a few autographs from some of their heroes before we made our way back to the car.
"We would like to express our gratitude for both the prize he won and the hospitality afforded to us."
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