It was an ‘interesting’ time at Newcastle United when Kevin Brock was at St James Park.
Starting his career at Oxford United, the midfielder went right up through the divisions with the club, playing 246 games and both he and the club ending up in the top tier.
Brock then followed Manager Jim Smith to QPR in 1987 before once again joining his boss at Newcastle a year later, eventually spending nearly six years on Tyneside after arriving at St James Park in December 1988.
Smith and Kevin Brock couldn’t prevent Newcastle’s relegation and the midfielder then almost helped NUFC back into the top division at the first attempt, only to very cruelly lose out in the play-offs.
Things then fell apart, Jim Smith left and then we had the short and slightly bizarre Ossie Ardiles era, before Kevin Keegan arrived to save the day.
Only goalkeeper Tommy Wright started more games (33) than Kevin Brock (31) that crazy season, confirming survival from a fall into the third tier only on the final day of the season at Leicester.
Kevin Brock was a skilful midfielder/winger and eventually replaced by Robert Lee but was a very talented player and made many of the goals for Mick Quinn and others during his time at Newcastle.
Ironically though, for someone not renowned for getting stuck in and not the tallest of players, my best memory of Kevin Brock was during the promotion season of 1992/93.
He only started four games and also came off the bench three times, one of those being at Birmingham when Tommy Wright got injured and with no keeper on the bench, Brock instead took responsibility.
The midfielder made some quality saves and United emerged with a valuable 3-2 victory.
Kevin Brock will be at the match today but like him, his family will have split loyalties, as he will have his two sons also at the game and one supports Oxford, the other Newcastle.
Kevin Brock speaking to Banbury Cake:
“I remember losing there (at Oxford) 5-2 in what became Ossie Ardiles’ last game in charge.
“The club brought in Kevin Keegan and the whole place just took off.
“I think the first game was against Bristol City at home and the place was packed out at 1.30pm when we got to St James Park.
“We were warming up and going across the pitch as normal, but every time we got to the touchline the fans went mad.
“I loved it up there, it’s such a passionate place to play football.
“Newcastle are going exceptionally well in the league, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they put out a full-strength side.
“But if four or five are left out, then it could be different.
“Oxford need to start well, which sounds obvious, and get the crowd behind them. They just have to be positive.
“If they sit back and allow Newcastle too much of the ball then at some stage they will open Oxford up.
“I think Oxford have a great chance, they’ve got some talented players and the manager (Michael Appleton) has done a fantastic job.”