My role sees me being predominantly responsible for the Foundation and Youth Development Phase groups. These are all the teams from Under-9 to Under-16 level. My responsibility is to prescribe all the physical development sessions which take place either in the gym or on the pitch. From Under-9 to Under-12s, the players complete their physical training primarily only on the pitch, whereas from Under-13 level they are getting introduced to weightlifting and resistance training in the gym. Alongside this, a big element of my responsibilities is the monitoring of the growth and maturation process of the players, which allows us to identify where each individual sits at their biological growth journey towards adolescence.
I got motivated to work as a sports scientist whilst I was completing my studies at Northumbria University. I played for their football team and part of their programme was to have strength and conditioning sessions. Our university team S&C coach inspired me to follow this career pathway. Also, as an athlete myself, I always had a tendency towards understanding and investing time to physically develop myself in the best possible way. Whilst reading books and scientific journals as a student, I started carrying out placements and roles within sports science and strength and conditioning roles. The role that eventually helped me to get a full-time job at the academy goes back to 2018.
In 2015, I was playing full-time in Cyprus and due to the free time I had during the day, I decided to go and improve my English. I would take one-to-one sessions with a tutor and when she asked me, “what comes after football for you?”, I was speechless – I had nothing to say. She gave me an idea of how the university and education system worked in England, where I could be completing a degree whilst playing football, and that was the key factor for me moving to the UK. Luckily, I ended up choosing Newcastle and Northumbria University and six years after this decision, I am still here doing something I love!
United Back Stage - Angelos Eleftheriadis
Academy Sports Scientist , Football Operations
My role involves speaking with the first-team technical staff as well as the academy staff to identify which of the younger players are going to be earmarked for loans. That comes from the manager, Dan (Ashworth) and the technical staff and then Shola (Ameobi) and I, along with the players’ representatives, try to find a club where a move is suitable for both the player and the club. We’re ideally looking for a development loan to play a style which fits our current system. Sometimes, the market suits where you go and try to identify a club but they might not have a requirement for that particular player. It’s then trying to speak to other clubs to see what they need and if we have anyone available to get them into the first-team environment to play games. When a club makes contact, we will then look to find as much information as we can about the club and watch previous games to get an understanding of the club and its style of play.
I have a working relationship with Shola which has gone back 20 years. We know each other inside out which helps when we’re able to go off on a tangent with work. Since playing with him as a teenager, we kept in touch throughout the course of my playing career. It has helped knowing each other and both being from the area, understanding what it takes to come through this system. We have a long-standing friendship as well as a professional relationship.
I had two dreams – one was to play for Newcastle and the other was to win a trophy and I achieved both of them.
United Back Stage - Peter Ramage
Assistant Player Loans Manager , Football Operations
For a club and a city like Newcastle, the fans are everything and we’ve seen on a matchday how the atmosphere created by the fans and Wor Flags has really helped the team on the pitch. The club understands how important the fans are and I think the creation of the Supporter Services team is a commitment from the club to demonstrate the crucial role fans play in the club’s success, because together we can achieve so much more.
A key focus on my role is engaging more with the fans, whether on a regional, national or global level. We meet with a wide variety of supporter groups and it’s about understanding the fans that they represent and what their needs are when they come to a match – and outside of a match.
I moved to Newcastle nearly 20 years ago now – I’m from Retford in Nottinghamshire and I’ve always loved football, from going to see Doncaster Rovers at the old Belle Vue when I was younger. I went to university in Hull, but my husband is a Geordie and my family has now been brought up here. I began working for Newcastle United Foundation ten years ago – I started as their fundraising manager and became deputy head about three years ago. At the Foundation, you could see the power of the football club in connecting with communities and I think I understand that people feeling part of something is really special, so I want to bring that to this role.
United Back Stage - Sarah Medcalf
Head of Supporter Services , Supporter Services
I work primarily with the Under-18s and my main role is to help the coaches and players to improve via the use of video and data. We provide professional clips for the players and tee up training sessions whilst using clips of them. When we’re outside on the pitches, we’re filming training and matches and they can see themselves in action and, using this, we can give them feedback on how to improve and coaches will also review sessions using the footage.
The first time I heard of the role was when I was at university. Growing up, I always wanted to do something in sport and football in particular. I went to Northumbria University, which is just down the road, and they do an internship with Newcastle United which allows you to come into the academy and get involved with the analysis department, working with the younger age groups. I really enjoyed it and that’s when I thought that this would be a good pathway for me.
My interview for the job was on the day of the club’s takeover. When I arrived at the stadium for it, all of the fans were outside the ground. That was very surreal – what a day it was! I thought my interview went well but wasn’t sure if I’d got it because you don’t know who else goes for the job. The whole day was great and because of the takeover, it might have taken a little longer to find out about it with everything that was going on. I got the job, though, and then we started winning after the takeover and the first few months were brilliant. I’ll never forget that day.
United Back Stage - Matthew Hutchinson
U9's - U16's Performance Analyst , Academy
Stephen, ticket operations manager here, says that I’m a bit of a ‘fixer’. I do all sorts of things. I take calls, I answer emails, I do things for away clubs, I work in match control when there’s a game on, and over the years I’ve become a point of contact for disabled supporters, both home and away. I’ve worked at the club since 1994 And I absolutely love my job. I came to the club for 13 weeks on a temporary contract, and I’ve never left!
The box office staff have always felt like a family and some have been here even longer than me. It's not just about selling tickets, it’s the printing, splitting, packing, franking and then putting tickets into boxes for the post. And it’s not just about tickets themselves; we’ve got emails to deal with and direct debit systems in place and, really, we’re like a customer service centre. There’s never, ever a dead time. Come the end of May, there might be a week where it’s not quite as intense but we’ll still be busy, and once the renewal period starts it’s a case of getting your head down and grabbing a cuppa while you can. Then you’ve got memberships going on sale, friendlies at home and friendlies away.
I know exactly why I’m still here, and it’s the family thing, and the fact that what I do is so varied. And if you love something or believe in something, why leave it?
United Back Stage - Jan Brien
Box Office Coordinator , Box Office