Sol Campbell, the footballing journeyman signed this week by Premier League newboys Newcastle United, is to be afforded what has been called 'special protection' when he ventures out on Tyneside in an evening, due to the historically-harsh Geordie sentiment towards gay people.
Campbell, 35, is as-bent-as-a-nine-bob-note, and black into the bargain, and these two factors do not normally go down well in Newcastle, where men are men, and, more-often-than-not, so are the women.
Campbell, it was, who was forced to leave Notts County at the start of last season after he 'touched-up' another player in the showers. His departure provided the spur the club needed, and they soared to the top of League Two, and to automatic promotion.
Fearing that the player might become the target for racist or homophobic bully boys, the St James Park club have assigned two security men to oversee Campbell's comings-and-goings (mostly his comings) and to protect his ears from the sort of vicious and uncalled-for chanting he unfairly received from Tottenham fans at Fratton Park whilst he was still a Portsmouth player.
Fans at St James Park yesterday were enthusiastic at the arrival of the former Arsenal and England defender. One said:
"Sol Campbell - isn't he that splendid coloured gentleman fella?"