So How Long Have You Supported Newcastle United?
So how long have you supported the Toon?
Who was our star player when you started?
Shearer perhaps? Gazza? Beardsley? Or maybe you go as far back as Andy Cole?
If you say Cisse then you might as well go straight back to the cartoons.
My first Toon hero was Malcolm MacDonald.
Signed to play for Fulham in 1968 by a certain Bobby Robson, ‘Supermac’ came to Toon in 1971.
Scoring a hat-trick on his home debut against Liverpool he went on to average a goal every other game throughout his entire career and I remember watching him scoring 5 goals for England against Cyprus, assisted by what must have then been a 12 year old Kevin Keegan.
As great players often do Supermac moved on, effectively ending his first class playing career following injury while playing for Arsenal in 1979.
Very few of our great players, possibly only a couple, have played for us during their crowning years, and when they move away to greatness we should always be asking why?
In 2005 we signed a 24 year old midfielder from Chelsea. In 2003 he’d been voted Player of the Year at his previous club, in 2004 he received the Football Association Young Player Of the year Award.
During his 2 years with Chelsea the awards dried up as Abramovich had taken over the club and the youngster was just too English to be picked.
In a development that took everyone by surprise, Graeme Souness brought him to SJP.
You remember Souness? He signed such wonders as Ali Dia (for Southampton), Jean Alain Boumsong, Albert Luque and Michael Owen.
Let’s face it – Scotty Parker wasn’t exactly the worst bit of business that Souness did.
Following Shearer’s retirement, in August 2006 Glenn Roeder handed Parker the Captain’s armband. He was named the second best player in the country for December, and as Captain collected our first piece of silverware since the ’69 Fairs Cup when he hoisted the forgotten about Intertoto Cup in March 2007. While it was a bit of a last man standing affair, the Intertoto almost counts as a real comp, though it’s probably misleading of me to refer to it as “silverware”, as I believe that one was cut out of plywood with a jigsaw.
Moving on to West Ham, Parker was voted “Hammer Of The Year” by the fans for 3 consecutive seasons, Football Writers’ Player of The Year, England Player of The Year, and made it into the PFA Premier League Team for 2011 – 2012.
The indications were there that Parker was a bit special.
Moving to Spurs and now making regular appearances in the England team, he continues to impress. So what went wrong at Newcastle?
Apparently while playing against Sheffield United in 2006 Parker was booed by sections of our “support” who were not happy because he had not fully committed to what they believed was a 50-50 tackle. And they should know. They watch football every week!
Parker, who was carrying a knee injury at the time, responded to the crowd with the “F” word, and later with what was believed by some to be “sarcastic” applause.
So began the downward spiral that led to the Parker’s exit “Daan Saaaf” as fans took exception to Parker’s apparent lack of remorse following the incident.
These are the same fans who chant and yell continuous obscenities at players week in and week out. They congregate as a mob to the sound of a loud “whoosh” as IQs plummet to that of the lowest common denominator, each hiding behind their numbers and assumed anonymity.
Yet when a single player responds to this abuse the mob is mobilized and mortified, crayons to the fore, and before we know it one of the best midfielders in the country is on his bike, pedalling his way south, in the general direction of away, preferring to play for a club that only just avoided relegation.
Who would have thought the fans could be so sensitive? Personally I don’t subscribe to the “I pay his wages so I can say what I like” train of thinking. If that was the case I’d be yelling at the barman every time I got a headache.
Every now and again I browse through my video collection and take a look at a great game, great player or even just great a moment from the club’s history, and the greatest example of dedication to the Toon cause took place in a home game against Arsenal in late 2005.
An Arse defender gets the nod on the ball pushing it ahead of Parker who, having apparently completely disengaged his brain, is still sprinting towards the goal. At the last moment he realizes he’s onto a loser and tries to back off, but the combination of his excessive momentum and the cunning turn of Lehmann’s right elbow lays Parker out flat.
Minutes later Parker is upright again and goes off for a change of shirt and to have his teeth counted.
A few minutes later he’s back again with a little assistance from a wad of cotton wool soaked in liquid painkiller.
Fast forward to 72 minutes and Parker tackles Toure, again, and again, and again – a move that culminates in him stumbling to the ground with Toure bouncing with his full weight on the Toon midfielder’s head.
At this point Parker surrenders, face down in the dirt, lobbing his cotton burger onto the turf.
He mutters something about forgetting to record Top Gear and takes the opportunity to have a quick nap.
After a few minutes of face-down medical attention, Parker, bravest of the brave (or possibly dumbest of the dumb), refuses the stretcher and in true Superhero fashion, walks off the pitch. OK – technically he was carried because his legs wouldn’t work, but he was carried vertically, not horizontally and that makes all the difference!
Parker spent the night with a major league concussion and the following day had to ask someone who won.
This was the player who a year later, carrying a knee injury, was booed for lack of commitment.
I don’t know what causes it but there almost always comes a time when we get bored with our toys and they get tossed (Fill in this space with appropriate Viz-type comment).
When I look at the likes of Perch, Simpson, Obertan, Williamons and my personal pet peev Shola, and see how they are lauded and applauded as heroes, and then I think what happened to Parker, I’m left with the only logical conclusion that can be reached.
There are times when it has to be said, that as fans, we can be a right bunch of knobs.
Tune in next week when I’ll try to convince you that Nile Ranger is just a victim of circumstance.
OK, the circumstance in this case is getting caught. Again and again and again.
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