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Where Are John Anderson & David McCreery When You Need Them?

8 years ago
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Saturday 28th March 1987, a date I will always remember – my first Newcastle match, 8 years old sat in the old West stand with my dad.

Newcastle played Southampton that day, running out 2-0 winners with goals from a young Paul Gascoigne and the ever reliable Paul Goddard, this was a Southampton team which boasted the likes of England internationals Peter Shilton and Mark Wright.

Newcastle had just ended an awful run from mid-December to the end of February losing 8 and drawing 1 in the league, the only respite being FA Cup wins against Northampton and Preston North End.

This Southampton game was towards the beginning of a mini revival where we won six and drew 3 – beating the likes of Man Utd and Arsenal along the way.  The end of that run came against eventual league champions Everton, but by that time we had saved ourselves from relegation and finished the season 17th (under the old 22 club system).

Fast forward 26 years and the start of this piece of history is true once again, the only problem is we have not had the mini-revival. Like him or loathe him, Gary Neville may have had a point when he put a lot of the blame on foreign imports for Newcastle’s current predicament.

In that squad of 86/87 we were not exclusively English, we had the Welsh goalkeeper Martin Thomas, the Irish defender John Anderson, the Northern Irish midfielder David McCreery, the Scottish Forward Darren Jackson……..you get the point; we were not exclusively English but we were almost exclusively British.

In the aftermath of Saturday’s game I started to wonder how many football games I had been too since that first game against Southampton all those years ago, using a very unscientific method of multiplying about 45 with 26 I worked on the principle that Newcastle have probably played about 1200 games in this time, so bearing in mind I got my first season ticket in 1992 and for about five years between the mid to the late 90s I never missed a league or cup game home or away.

I reckon I’ve been to about 600 matches in my lifetime…..and I can honestly say that Saturday was the worst game I have ever witnessed first hand….no I wasn’t at Brisbane Road against Leyton Orient in 2009 so I can’t compare it to that and I’m sure a few of you a couple years my senior will talk about the 8-1 drubbing at the hands of West Ham in 1986.

But I was there on New Year’s day in 1990 watching us get a 4-1 hammering off of Wolves, I was there in 2003 when Man Utd put 6 past us, I was at Highbury in 2003 when Arsenal put 5 past us, I could easily go on….

The way Newcastle played on Saturday was worse than anything I saw in the 1989 or 2009 relegation years.  It was completely pathetic, there was not one player on that pitch who looked like they knew what they were doing, completely leaderless, and there was no bravery, no guts. I cannot pick on any one player because they were all as bad as one another.

Is this because our current crop does not like it when the chips are down? Or is it Pardew and his baffling tactics and team selection? Is it the Europa league? (Newcastle played 48 games in 86/87 and ALWAYS played a full strength team)

You can look at all these excuses but at the end of the day with the way the ‘team’ played on Saturday, you have to place a lot of the blame on having a team full of players who cannot understand what it means to pull on a black and white shirt. Players who do not seem to have the fight when the going gets tough.

Everyone has been guilty of waxing lyrical over Graham Carr and his amazing French signings, until now.  You can do all the homework possible on any player but if you have never seen him when the chips are down and you require hard work and determination and a bit of scrap – you might end up with what we have now, a bunch of players who individually seem like excellent players and good buys.

But as a collective? Maybe Gary Neville is right……. Oh how I wish for a ‘foreigner’ like David McCeery or John Anderson right now.

 

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