Former Leeds United, Birmingham City, Burnley, and Bolton Wanderers striker Robbie Blake has joined University Football side Team Northumbria. They are the Football team of Northumbria University and currently play in Division One of the Northern League which is the 9th tier of English Football.
It is quite a drop down for Robbie Blake who last season was on the books at eventual League One champions Doncaster Rovers. He barely featured for the side however and has now returned to his North-Eastern roots. Team Northumbria have signed a very experienced player who used to be one of the hottest talents in Division One. Robbie Blake began his career at Darlington. He had a great start to his career there, and the now reformed club; Darlington 1883 are now just one league above Team Northumbria.
After joining Bradford City for £300,000 in 1997 he helped the side gain promotion to the Premier League in 1999. He failed to make an impact in the Premier League and was sent on loan to Nottingham Forest. After the Bantams were relegated Robbie joined Burnley where he enjoyed the best spell of his career. Blake was top goalscorer in each of his full seasons at the club and gained plenty of interest from Premier League clubs. He eventually joined Steve Bruce's Birmingham City for £1.25 million.
Blake could not break into the Birmingham team and therefore joined Leeds United in the Championship. Blake played regularly at Leeds before they were relegated in 2007. He left to join former club Burnley for a second spell. Blake said he felt he had "unfinished business at the club". In the 2007-2008 season he scored 10 goals and had 14 assists in 43 games. The next year he almost helped the Clarets to a place in the Carling Cup final. They were just two minutes away from beating Spurs in the semi final, but Tottenham scored two last minute goals.
Blake played in the Premier League the following season with Burnley and scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Manchester United. Burnley however, suffered relegation at the end of their only season in the top flight. Blake then joined Bolton for two years and then Doncaster but was only a fringe player for both.
TN manager Paul Johnson told the University website "Robbie is a great signing for us and I'm glad we've finally done the deal."
As well as having Robbie Blake at the club, Team Northumbria also have Newcastle United player Gael Bigirimana's brother Yaye on the books who also plays in midfield. The captain of the side is Graeme Carrick, brother of Michael at Manchester United.
image: © Chris Robertshaw