There is very little can beat a match day when the circus/pantomime rides into town and up to St.James’ Park.
The other week against Liverpool we were spoilt for choice as the pantomime baddies lined up to take the applause…
No two cases are ever the same but it is normally one or both of the following when the ex-player gets stick, something they said or something they did or didn’t do when wearing black & white.
King scouser Kenny gets stick because of the way he tore a very good Newcastle side apart, Enrique because he made clear he wanted to leave and said under Ashley we would never be top six (which we all agreed with at the time…), while Andy Carroll signed a new contract before next minute seemingly happily moving from the team he supported.
Craig Bellamy was a strange case as he initially had a lot of support/sympathy due to his run-ins with manager Souness, this though spiralled into contempt when he got into conflict with Alan Shearer after leaving….only one winner in that contest!
Rather bizarrely, Newcastle United have now seemingly gained a reputation for being bitter towards returning players, previously I have to admit I thought we were a bit soft the other way and gave certain people a far easier time than I reckon fans of other clubs would ever do.
I’ll never forget David Kelly getting a standing ovation at St.James’ Park as he entered the pitch in a mackem strip!
Les Ferdinand, Gary Speed and Rob Lee were given plenty respect after leaving, while Andy Cole had our respect and gratitude…until he celebrated at Wembley and joined in with an abusive song aimed at Kevin Keegan and the Newcastle fans. ‘Thick’ doesn’t quite go far enough.
Geordie boy Lee Clark had some kind of very early mid-life crisis and went to the mackems ( that day I knew that anything was possible in football), yet in later matches for the likes of Fulham I can’t remember him getting what possibly he deserved for such a betrayal, such though was the respect he’d built up while at Newcastle.
Things were more mixed up with our trio of superstars in the eighties with Peter Beardsley coming out of things pretty unscathed, while (Judas!) Waddle and Gazza were perceived as greedy and traitors. All three though probably only guilty of ambition, though Waddle hardly helped himself by talking about how great he was treated while at Spurs and infamously saying dismissively how on the way back from Newcastle’s away trips the coach would stop for fish & chips at Wetherby!
Of our modern day ex-players I probably have most sympathy for Enrique, a class player who always did his best for us and didn’t turn his back when Newcastle were relegated. When he talked about a lack of ambition under Ashley, Enrique was only voicing what most of us were thinking.
The golden rule clearly is; do your best when wearing the shirt AND keep your mouth shut!
Who would you cheer or boo?