In advance of the Spurs match the supremely talented creator of Viz, Chris Donald, was asked to name his greatest ever Newcastle United team by the excellent website sabotagetimes.com – A decent(!) eleven and Mr.Donald’s humour isn’t bad either. Can you do better/
Newcastle Greatest XI by Chris Donald
GK – Shay Given
Played for the Mackems on loan when he was at Blackburn in the mid-90s, but all that was forgiven when he signed for us. Saved innumerable games for us with his brilliant shot-stopping. Shay would have walked into the England team if he’d been English. Over 350 appearances in 12 years at the club. Arguably the most consistent keeper in the Premiership in his time at United.
RB – Bill McCracken
Irishman Bill McCracken’s famous offside trap was so good in 1925 they changed the rules. Captained his club and country, 377 league appearances for Newcastle, winning three league titles and getting us to three FA Cup finals. Tidy defender. Away fans hated him, Geordies loved him. That’s how it should be.
LB – Frank Hudspeth
You couldn’t pick McCracken without also picking his defensive partner Frank Hudspeth. A proper Geordie, his first club was Scotswood. He played more games for Newcastle than any other outfield player – 482 appearances in total between 1910 and 1929. Chipped in with 38 goals as well.
Defensive stalwart in the sixties and seventies, captained the 1969 Fairs Cup winning team (and knocked in a hat trick in the final just for good measure). Captained United and Scotland too. Spent his twilight years at Joker Park working on his pension fund, but nobody’s perfect. A talented all-rounder, Bobby plays golf and does a bit of sailing too.
CH – Jonathan Woodgate
I’m taking a chance here, cos he might well be injured. Only managed a handful of games for us, but I’ll tell you what. He never put a foot wrong when he did actually make it onto the pitch. I sat and watched him one game, all the way through, and he never even broke sweat. Positioning, awareness, reading of the game – brilliant. Just a shame he was such a crock.
CM – Joe Harvey (C)
Right-half in his time, I’d pick Joe to play a holding midfield role and to boss the entire game. A great leader both as captain of the fifties FA Cup winning teams and then as manager of the Fairs Cup winning side, he’d run the show. And he’d share his tabs with the other players at half-time.
CM – Paul Gascoigne
Mercurial, magic and absolutely mental. At his young, chubby best he was unbelievable. A daft Geordie lad who loved playing football and happened to be better at it than anyone else in the world. He’d need looking after on and off the pitch, but Joe Harvey and Alan Shearer can do that.
LM – David Ginola
“David who?” James Brown asked me when we signed him in 1995. “I dunno” I said. But we soon found out. A bit of a ponce if the truth be told, but what a player. His home debut against Middlesborough was simply unbelievable. Bit of a lazy tw*t as well – Bill McCracken won’t get much cover from him – but an affordable luxury with such a solid defence behind him.
RM – Alan Shearer
There’s no room for him up front but I can’t omit Alan Shearer from the side. So I’ll play him in right midfield. One of the best crossers of a ball I’ve ever seen – witness Les Ferdinand’s goal in the 5-0 thrashing of man United – it was just a shame Shearer couldn’t get on the end of his own crosses. His heart is black and white, you could play him anywhere in the side.
CF – Jackie Milburn
I never saw him play but I saw his house – my Dad used to point it out every time we drove past it. 494 appearances and 239 goals between the war and 1957. Three FA Cup winners medals. I think Shearer pipped him in the end for his goals tally, but Wor Jackie remains the all-time legend so I’ll give him the number 9 shirt.
FW – Peter Beardsley
A girl who used to work for me grew up in the same street as Beardsley. “All he ever did when he was a kid was eat sweets and kick a ball against a wall, for hours on end”, she told me. And it shows. Terrible teeth but a magical touch, Absolute footballing genius, scorer of brilliant goals, and the perfect foil for a big striker. And the fourth born Geordie in my team. (loses a point for his physical appearance).
Couldn’t choose him as a player because we didn’t see the best of him in his boots, but as a manager he lifted the club from dire straits to the very verge of the Premiership title, and he brought brilliant players and brilliant football to the Toon. Couldn’t organise a defence to save his life, but with the team I’ve chosen defence won’t be a problem, and neither will attacking.