Memories Of Newcastle United’s Nobby Solano
In the recent Aston Villa match programme an interview with Nolberto Solano caught my eye, bringing back memories of only my second visit to St.James’ Park, when I saw Nobby’s debut in black & white stripes. That was on 17th August 1998, the day Nobby signed for the Mags, he was included in the reserve team to play Stockport County that same night. At the time I was reserve team programme contributor for County and I travelled on the team coach.
The big news was the game had being moved to St.James’ Park from the original Kingston Park venue (home of Newcastle Falcons rugby team).
Only when I arrived at Edgeley Park did I find out about the venue change ‘due to a Peruvian international being signed that morning and a large crowd expected’. I then had the challenge of letting a fellow County fan know about the switch, he was travelling up by train.
The County fan in question is well known, especially amongst those who follow England. He was ‘eccentric’ and any Newcastle fans who also follow England might remember him as Captain, Beefy or Mutton Chops (due to his bushy sideburns). He tended to be scruffily dressed , looking like a tramp, in an old RAF greycoat.
His real name was Jon Hall and to try and inform him of the change we decided to ring Manchester Piccadilly railway station and ask them to relay a message over their tannoy system. Jon later told me that the station announcer asked for ‘Sir John Hall travelling to watch Newcastle United to contact the information office for a very important message’. You can only imagine the look on the chap’s face, when a scruffy individual wearing an old RAF greycoat walked in saying he was Jon Hall when they were expecting a knighted millionaire.
What will also sick in my memory is the hospitality shown to me by the Newcastle United officials. Normally I would meet up with Jon at a local hostelry and watch the game together but as I couldn’t get in touch with him I decided to go in with the players and manager Dave Moss. The main reason I actually made this decision was that when the team coach arrived at SJP there were already thousands of fans milling around and I decided it would be impossible to meet up with anybody I knew. The club official took me up to the directors lounge and kindly sorted refreshments, also showing me the way to the directors box for when the match started.
There were several first team players in the lounge and I had a good chat with John Barnes and Steve Watson. As I took my seat for kick-off, the whole of the East Stand and half of the Gallowgate were packed with 8,763 Geordies, which was a pretty impressive sight for such a game. At the time the Leazes End was being extended and was a building site.
As for the match, Solano was involved early on and when he scored on 17 minutes, with a shot from the edge of the area, the noise was deafening! County actually equalised before Paul Robinson scored twice to send the Toon in 3-1 up at the break.
After 67 minutes Nobby was substituted to a standing ovation. Further goals came from Des Hamilton who hit a 35 yard rocket and Georgiadis who finished off the scoring to give a 5-1 result.
The toon line-up was as follows: Lionel Perez, Stuart Elliott, Stephen Glass, Steve Howey, Phillipe Albert, Des Hamilton, Garry Brady, Nol Solano, Paul Robison, Paul Dalglish, George Georgiadis
Subs Paul Barrett, Paul Arnison, Bjarni Gudjonsson and unused subs Steve Harper and David Burt
(The Mag – Bit of a difference to how a reserve team was made up in those days compared to now!)
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