A football memorabilia shop hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic has relaunched with the help of a former Newcastle United number nine.

Dozens of fans turned out to Stadium Collectables, in North Shields, to see ex-striker Ron McGarry as he signed autographs, posed for pictures and reminisced about his time at the Toon.

Under Boris Johnson's roadmap, non-essential shops were allowed to welcome customers once again from Monday, April 12.

Owner James Whinham, 18, said it was "fantastic" to welcome customers back after a "tough" year with the first coronavirus lockdown coming into effect just a month after he first opened the Saville Street shop.

Supporters young and old queued up on Saturday to see Ron, who played for the Magpies from 1963 to 1967 and scored 46 goals in 132 appearances.

He led the line, and topped the goal scoring charts of the 1964-65 Division Two winning side - netting 16 goals as United returned to the top flight.

"It was fantastic," said James. "We had 30 to 40 people come along with only one customer being allowed in the shop at a time.

Former Newcastle United striker Ron McGarry helped relaunch North Shields football memorabilia store Stadium Collectables
Ron McGarry chatted to fans, signed autographs and posed for pictures

"Ron is a super guy and he stayed a lot longer than he was supposed to as he was chatting to fans and reminiscing about his time at the club.

"We had people young and old come along which was great to see. Even Ron was surprised by the number of younger supporters who knew who he was and discussing games he played in.

"He told me afterwards how much he enjoyed it and we're hoping to do similar events every month with former players."

Among the items stocked at Stadium Collectables are numerous programmes, signed shirts and footballs as well as signed autobiographies of stars such as Alan Shearer, David Ginola, Kevin Keegan, Gazza and Geoff Hurst.

But it's not just Newcastle United fans who James caters for. He has a whole range of merchandise for Premier League clubs, European giants as well as fellow North East teams Sunderland and Middlesbrough.

And after a difficult start to being a businessowner, James, from Wallsend, is excited for what the future holds.

He said: "It's been really tough. I've still been paying the bills despite not having money coming in.

"The meet and greet with Ron was a real boost for the shop with us being shut for so long over the past year.

"I'm just over the moon that we're able to open the doors again."