Fortune favours the Reds

Back row: Paul Christopher (coach), Shane Hobern, Stephen Stone, Mark Ryan.
Second row: Christopher Wood, Christopher Symons, Brendan Symonds, Charl Gelant.
Front row: Daniel King, Richard O’Shaughnessy, Ryan Christopher, Jason Ross, Malcolm Matthews.
Absent: Ben Walter, Daniel Fitter. Munro Burgess Kodak Express.

Cambridge football is in line for a six-figure windfall because a player it helped develop is now wearing one of the game’s most famous shirts.

Chris Wood, the Auckland born, Waikato developed All White, was sold by Burnley to Newcastle United for a sum estimated to be more than $47 million in January.

Cambridge – as well as Hamilton Wanderers – will collect a slice of the fee when it trickles down.

Wood wears the black and white striped number 20 shirt at Newcastle, playing in the “number nine” role worshipped by generations of Newcastle fans having watched the likes of Alan Shearer, Malcolm Macdonald and Jackie Milburn play there.

Cambridge Club president Greg Zeuren told The News details of the payment are still to be confirmed, but the club is talking to Newcastle and hopes to have a Zoom meeting with Chris Wood. The club also retains a good relationship with the Wood family.

“I’ve become a Newcastle fan,” he said.

“This money comes at a time when we are looking at renewing our lease at John Kerkhof Park, that’s the first thing that has to happen. The club is in superb shape – we have the best committee I’ve worked with, 540 juniors and nine senior teams.”

He said it was not a question of where the money would be spent – but how well it would be invested. And that will be done with a view to supporting junior football – because it was at junior level Wood first made his name at the club.

Wood, 30, was under the wing of former national league coach Roger Wilkinson after moving from Cambridge to Wanderers in 2007, and Wilkinson was influential in sending the then 15-year-old for successful trials at West Bromwich Albion.

Wilkinson said Wood’s physical presence was a factor in his success, but also his ability to be in the right place at the right time to score goals.

He was on the mark in Newcastle’s home win over Wolves last weekend – scoring from the penalty spot in a 1-0 win with his parents Julie and Grant in the crowd. It was the first time they had watched him play in Newcastle colours.

Wood is now one of the senior members of the All Whites, who have just completed a successful World Cup qualifying round in Qatar. That included a 7-1 win over New Caledonia with Jamie Searle making his debut in goal.

Whakatane born Searle, 21, who is on Swansea City’s books, also turned out for Cambridge in 2016 and attended St Peters School.

  •  Cambridge plays in the third tier of the Northern League and starts  its second division campaign on Saturday with a home match against Hibiscus Coast. Kick off is 3pm.

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