Newcastle United Bonkers Eleven
It is often said that Newcastle fans must be mad to keep going back, the constant drama on and off the pitch is enough to see lesser men walk away in search of a peaceful life!
We even have a song about being mental and mad as well as being the loyalist football supporters.
Perhaps we are all a bit short of brain cells after numerous away trips and sampling the many watering holes our glorious city has to offer. Reading the article on Ketsbaia’s goal celebration got me thinking about the players who represent us and whether or not that black and white shirt is enough to send anyone a bit loopy!
The whole ‘best 11 ever’ or ‘worst 11 ever’ has been done to death but now I can exclusively reveal, the ‘Newcastle United bonkers XI’, a collection of former Toon players who are clearly a few slices short of their half time orange!
In goal I would have mackem bench warmer Lionel Perez, why we ever signed him remains a complete mystery. Perhaps the best service he ever gave the Toon was conceding four goals in the 1998 play-off final at Wembley whilst playing for Sunderland. Since (not) playing for the Toon he went on to Cambridge United and ran the whole length of the pitch to take a penalty in his last game, he missed but managed to break the opposition keeper’s hand in the process and got man of the match!
Less funny were his antics as a coach for Stevenage Borough in an FA cup tie with Northampton town, he was sent from the bench for assaulting an opposition coach with an eye jab and ended up on the wrong side of the law. Clearly barking mad and a good start for my team!
In defence (I’m going for the traditional 4-4-2 here) I’d have Steven Taylor, Titus Bramble, Nicos Dabizas and Philippe Albert. Taylor for his ridiculous swan dive against Aston Villa in 2005, sticking out an arm to save the ball on the line and then rolling around on the ground holding his face in a bizarre attempt to con the referee, as soon as he was shown the inevitable red however he got up and strolled off! The recent derby day comments have also cemented his place in the team, claiming he’d rather take up stamp collecting than play for our wearside chums (actually that probably makes him quite sane!)
Derby Hero Dabizas makes the team for two reasons. Firstly who can forget him ripping his shirt off in celebration after scoring the winner at the stadium of light, swinging it round his head before being joined by jubilant team mates? Secondly, I remember a match where we coasting 2-0 v spurs and decided to being him on just before an opposition corner, without breaking stride he hurtled towards our goal (just to clear any danger you know) and dived full length to bury a header at the Leazes End, 2-1 and game on. Er, thanks for that Nicos!
Titus Bramble has had too many incidents to list, capable of sublime skill and decent goals he also was responsible for a number of lapses in concentration, diving in to give away penalties and once forcing his own goalkeeper into a save with his head! This was due to a superb acrobatic volley that was destined for the top corner of the Gallowgate. This didn’t stop his persistence mind and he went on to achieve superb own goals away to Liverpool and Southampton, that’s the spirit lad if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em. Off the field there has been more serious allegations and he’s had his fair share of brushes with the law, upon signing for Sunderland he managed to make our 5-1 demolition derby even more hilarious when diving in on Andy Carroll at 3-0, saw him receive a straight red. Cheers lad.
Philippe Albert seems relatively sane compared to this box of frogs until you crack open the magpie magic dvd. Does he actually realise that we bought him to defend? You’d think a team with Shearer, Ferdinand, Asprilla, Ginola, Bearsley, Lee and Gillespie wouldn’t need any help and yet there he was galloping forward at every available opportunity, who needs tactics when you can out-score the opposition? Rather bizarrely he now owns a successful fruit and veg business in Belgium, nice to see he’s applying all the football knowledge he must have picked up at the Toon!
My Midfield is put together featuring some of my favourite players; Ginola, Batty, Ketsbia and Clark make up the four. Ginola for his actions away at Arsenal in the 95/96 league cup, finally snapping after some rough treatment from the cockney thugs and getting sent off for raising an arm to Lee Dixon. He wandered around the perimeter of the pitch claiming ‘they won’t let me play football’ and had to be helped away to the dressing room. He also shared a few choice words with John Gregory when being hauled off before half time as we ran Villa ragged, this incident only enhanced a 3-0 win in May 2001.
No ‘Bonkers XI’ would be complete without David Batty and I think I’ll make him my captain. 4 red cards during his time on Tyneside, on one occasion Batty shoved the referee on his way off the pitch and was banned for six games!
Ketsbaia’s erratic behaviour was recently covered elsewhere in The Mag, the Georgian loon attacking advertising hoardings after scoring the winner against Bolton, he also attempted to strip and throw his boots into the crowd before Pistone calmed him down. Often a match winner purely for the fact none of his own players knew what he’d do next so the opposition must have been stumped. The famous celebration has gone down in folklore and was perhaps the most spontaneous way to celebrate ever.
Lee Clark makes the midfield complete, any footballer who is prepared to sign for Sunderland must be off his rocker but to turn up to the 1999 cup final wearing an offensive T-shirt about them whilst being on their payroll, as far as I’m concerned he redeemed himself in the grandest manner that day!
Up front I’ve gone for Craig Bellamy and Nile Ranger, Bellamy just couldn’t close his mouth for 3 seconds either on or off the pitch. Inviting Sky Sports round to his house to publicly call out Souness was just ludicrous, that’s on top of the champions league bans and numerous bookings for dissent. Nile Ranger makes the team for less amusing reasons than the rest of them put together, this young man had a God-given talent and chose to discard it due to an appalling attitude, if things had worked out differently we could have had a very different discussion about young Nile, good riddance to bad rubbish.
I’d like to invite two former players to coach this team, Faustino Asprilla and Gazza would do the trick. My manager would be Kevin Keegan (ably assisted by Ruud Gullit) and me?
Well, I’d probably still be a fan which certainly makes me the craziest of the lot!
Howay the lads.
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