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Throughout the 20th century the rth-east of England was synymous with heavy industry and football. Coal mining, railways and ship-building provided an ecomic base upon which football - professional and amateur - flourished. Middlesbrough, Newcastle United and Sunderland all established themselves as national forces by winning League titles, FA Cups and by breaking records in the transfer market and in stadium attendances. They helped shape the area's identity, its sense of itself and the country's idea of the rth-east. By the end of 1990 rth-east influence had peaked. The mid-1980s saw the break-up of the coal industry and the end of ship-building on the Wear and the Tyne. The industrial landscape had changed forever. In 2014 unemployment in the rth-east is twice the national average. Yet rth-east football culture remains as vibrant as ever. Despite consistent failure, decades-long, the rth-east's appetite for football remains strong. For nearly two decades, author Michael Walker has chronicled the ups and downs of this hotbed of soccer for several national newspapers. In Up There he shows how football is the area's great uniting thread and uncovers stories about the game's rich lore. Part social history, part travelogue, Up There examines that fascination, the connection to industry and the ecomy, and charts some of the individuals and clubs who have helped define a region.
Michael Walker is a freelance reporter based in the North-east. Originally from Belfast, Michael studied at Newcastle University in the mid-1980s and after spells working in London and Manchester, returned to the North-east in 1995. He has been there ever since working for the Guardian, Independent and Daily Mail, while writing a regular Saturday column for the Irish Times. One of those columns became the idea for his book Up There: The North-East, Football, Boom & Bust. His history of football in Ireland, Green Shoots, will be published by deCoubertin Books in 2017.