What A Night – David Ginola’s Master Class At Stoke
Late next month it will be nineteen years to the day since Newcastle United’s travelling fans were treated to a master class by David Ginola.
At the time United were of course top of the Premier League and not only that, the team was playing sublime football under Kevin Keegan.
On the 25th October 1995, Newcastle travelled to then second tier club Stoke City for the third round of the League Cup.
United destroyed them by four without reply with Ginola at his very best, as the away fans sang on the night ‘He’s class and you know he is’, in reply to the feeble and ‘slightly’ inaccurate chants of ‘He’s s*** and you know he is’ from the home fans.
(Allegedly) Marking Ginola that night was full-back Ian Clarkson and he has been reminiscing about that encounter ahead of tonight’s match, speaking to the Stoke Sentinel newspaper;
‘CHELSEA had been taken care of at Stamford Bridge, so I was confident we could give Newcastle a good run for their money, but no one warned me about David Bloody Ginola!
Actually, that isn’t strictly true, as driving up to the game with Kevin Keen, Graham Potter and Paul Peschisolido, they all informed me I would be in for a testing evening.
However, I didn’t have Sky television, so I was blissfully oblivious to the mercurial talents of Ginola in his prime – and I was sure I could handle him as we claimed another scalp.
However, this was a chance for us to bloody Newcastle’s noses and our manager, Lou Macari, had insisted the only way we could compete was to adopt an ‘in-yer-face’ style to try to unsettle the likes of Peter Beardsley, Les Ferdinand, Rob Lee and the guy from the L’Oreal adverts on the left-wing.
A quick chat with the TV commentator for the night, Alan Parry, left me in no doubt that we needed to be forceful and he suggested I should give Ginola ‘a taste of the Nationwide League’.
A host of my friends from Birmingham had come up to watch the game, but I think that was more to see Newcastle’s sparkling football than anything I had to offer… and they weren’t disappointed.
I remember my first confrontation with Ginola. I thought I would ‘show him inside’ on to his weaker foot and he pinged the ball so hard that his crossfield pass actually went out of play.
He was a class above anyone I had ever faced before and I wasn’t particularly enjoying my evening, nor was anyone in the back four because we were soon 2-0 adrift.
The only two times I got near to Ginola all night in the first half he went down under challenges and that was me back in the bath with just 43 minutes on the clock.
I spent the second half in the bath listening to cheers from Newcastle supporters as they notched up two more goals.
Potter was the first player I saw back in the changing rooms and he just looked at me in a state of shock and said: “You were lucky to miss the second half.”
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