I have been watching this club for 45 years and suffice to say I have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of people pull on the black and white shirt.

Note that I didn’t use the word footballer in that sentence, because for many of them, the word footballer would have been pushing it a bit.

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Obviously when it comes to naming favourite players, the usual names come up. Macdonald, Keegan, Beardsley, Shearer…Whitehurst, however I suspect that all of us have a few on our list who are not so obvious.

Back in the mid 70s, while everyone raved about Supermac, Hibbitt and Green, I was a big fan of  Pat Howard.

As a 14 year old, I thought he was as good a centre-half as anyone else in the country. I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t an England international whilst that pug ugly mackem, Dave Watson, was. In my eyes he was a class act.

I now realise that my judgement may have been affected by the fact that he lived in a 3 bed semi near to my mate in Chester Le Street and was always happy to play 3 goals and in with us on Sunday afternoons. At a time when the likes of Sterling turn down 100 grand a week, it’s amazing that it wasn’t that long ago that footballers literally lived next door.

On reflection, maybe Pat wasn’t a John Terry, but I liked him.

When Keegan joined us in 82, the world became a much better place; however, was I the only one who was distraught to see Imre Varadi forced out the door?  Check the record books and you will see that Varadi  actually managed to outscore Keegan in 82-83, ending up with a Newcastle career total of 40 goals in 90 games, in a team that were nothing special.

On top of this, his workrate was as good as anyone around and he seemed genuinely proud to play for the club. What we could do with a 20 goal a season striker these days.

Then there was David McCreery. Five Feet bugger all, prematurely balding, and someone who spent the 90 minutes running around like a mad man, kicking people. There was the slight problem that he was totally lacking in any creativity, but that didn’t matter with the forward line in front of him.

Davey Mac was proof that you didn’t have to have the God given skills of a Beardsley to be a footballer. I would watch him and think ‘I could do that’ (That is the kicking bit, not the running about all day).

The next choice is not really one of the unsung heroes, he is a bloody great hero, but I am still going to include him.

David Kelly is an integral part of NUFC history. When he arrived at the club his stock could not have been lower. He was totally garbage at West Ham and most of us thought he would be a terrible signing and yet he, like Varadi , went on to score  around 1 goal every 2  games.

heroes

To say he was loved is an understatement.  How many players can you think of who would receive a standing ovation coming onto the St James Park pitch in a mackem shirt?

What a guy, he gave his all for the cause and will always be revered by those who watched him.

Once we get to the Keegan years, the choice of utterly wonderful players just becomes silly.

Choosing one or two favourites from the 93-96 period is impossible, it’s probably  easier just to say the whole lot of them were brilliant.

Even Darren Peacock.

Peacock used to get a hard time, probably because he wasn’t Philippe Albert, but in hindsight was Dazza really that bad?  Especially when compared with those who have came after him, such as Marcelino, Boumsong, Bramble and Iron Mike.

And finally, it’s time to tell the world of my guilty secret.

I was a fan of Barry Venison.

I know he was a mackem, I know that he dressed like a short-sighted , colour blind chameleon and I know he had a haircut like a star from a 1980s adult entertainment video.

However, because he  was prepared to stay in his own half while the rest of his teammates, including Pav, were all charging into the opposition’s 6 yard box, I thought he was a vitally important cog in that truly wonderful machine.

heroes

 

Since Bobby Robson’s time, I struggle to think of any players who have been real heroes of mine.

There are two reasons for that.

For a start, as you get older the act of  worshiping young men in shorts doesn’t feel right, but the real reason is because most of them have been pretty crap.

So will any of the incumbents of the shirt for the upcoming season become our future heroes?  I won’t be putting money on it but you just never know.

Maybe there will be another David Kelly or Imre Varadi in there somewhere.

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  • fireflyuk

    Venison was loved by every NUFC I knew, no guilty secret there. Darren Peacock was a disaster, his inept defending played a massive part in our failure to win anything. Warren Barton equally so.

  • fireflyuk

    One of my faves was Peter Withe, always loved how he got in the keeper’s face when they were taking kicking the ball out from their hands.

  • 1957

    Barry Venison wasn’t just a good footballer but he was a top bloke as well. We lived close by when he lived just outside Durhamage was flash but he always had time to talk to people and kids in the street, my son thought he was great.
    If the Varadi situation had happened today, this site would have exploded with indignation, he was perhaps my all time favourite except for Tony Green who was incredible but taken from us by a bad injury

  • jim3maxwell

    Although David Craig wasn’t really unsung (David Coleman once called him “The best full back in Britain” on TV during the home internationals) not so many of the more recent supporters ever got to see him play which is a great shame for them. he was a brilliant defender and overlapping full back.  A few years later I went on a pilgrimage to his newsagents shop in North Shields and have met him a couple of times. A hero who never let me down.

    I’d also like to sing the praises of Scott Sellars, another great player.

  • fireflyuk

    jim3maxwell Scott Sellars, loved him.

  • prestondave

    Aaah, the good old times. What went wrong.? Answers on a postcard please to Jinky jim.

  • TonnekToon

    1957 Aye , Venners was a top lad , very approachable . I don’t really know why , but my son and I also liked Malcom Allen, bit of a wild lad , but I always wanted him to do well . Thats  just me tho’ I suppose many would differ Haha.

  • CaptainCaveman

    There’s nothing to feel guilty about being a fan of Barry Venison.  I still don’t think we’ve had a better captain.

  • Happyharrys2011

    Your very right there, we haven’t had a player you would put in the hero mode since Sir Bobby’s days. Funny to mention David Mcreery, he was going to be my choice, he had not one ounce of real footballing skill but what a player! Those were the days when we weren’t succesful but it was great going to the match with hope and the best atmosphere ever.
    Since he wasn’t mentioned in the post George “Rambo” Riley he scored the only goal to beat Liverpool at my first ever game at home against the then mighty Liverpool.

  • wivawova

    John Anderson, Paul Goddard, who turned down a move to the vultures at Liverpool (nice to see them now a selling club), Warren Barton, Tony Green, Irving Nattrass, Geoff Nulty and for my Wild Card, Franky Pingle who always seemed to put in everything but had zero luck during his short spell.

  • RossYogiGraver

    Bazza venison is my cousin growing up he was the reason I supported the toon if I was a couple of years older i could of been born ( I think I’m going to puke if I write it) a mackem. I don’t feel well, now my dinner is all over the toilet

  • Squintytoonarmy

    Alan shoulder

  • MrShack

    Great left foot.

  • JamesShaughnessyLawrence

    TonnekToon 1957 Malcom Allen was the guy who showed up when Cole, Kelly, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Beardsley and even Alex Mathie!!!! didn’t. Some very good goals for us that 1st Prem year

  • LintonLad

    Another nice article from Jinky Jim, spot on as usual.  Venison was my first choice too; he was a great tackler and used the ball wonderfully – rarely wasting it.  Scott Sellars was also good – a bit like the best left winger we’ve ever had, Terry Hibbitt, God bless him.

  • LintonLad

    Squintytoonarmy Alan was a breath of fresh air in a moribund team; recruited from Horden Colliery via Blyth Spartans, a proper local hero!

  • LintonLad

    wivawova Sorry Wiva, I don’t think that the name of Tony Green should ever be uttered in the same breath as Geoff Nulty.

  • Happyharrys2011

    Here are 2 that spring to mind. Mirindinha, the first ever Brazilian to play in England. He lived next to my aunty and I thought he was god U0001f603.
    Then how about Tino? He got some stick from the press about blowing the league and stuff, but he was a true entertainer and that is what we pay for a SJP.
    I wish we had just one player with even a fraction of the charisma those two had.

  • LeazesEnder

    Happyharrys2011 Didn’t he live up at Guide-Post Ashington?

  • LeazesEnder

    LintonLad Scott Sellars…. blimey  stretching the definition of ‘hero’ to someone who wore a black and white shirt….

  • Happyharrys2011

    He lived in Fawdon next to the metro station.

  • LeazesEnder

    Happyharrys2011 I’ve been misinformed by wor kid then

  • Happyharrys2011

    He may of lived in guide post after Fawdon, it’s possible he moved later on. But he defo lived in fawdon when I was a kid. I used to walk past every day very slowly staring at his house hoping to aee him.

  • Happyharrys2011

    I agree with you about Barton he was a liability. He is a big part of the reason we won nothing, sorry a massive part of the reason.

  • Paul Patterson

    Cracking article.

    I would add Scott Parker into the argument. A player I loved, but was wasted at Newcastle, and not used as a Frank Lampard type of player. He could have been a legend here.

  • Happyharrys2011

    But he wasn’t so he wasn’t.
    We agree on one thing though, a cracking article.

  • fireflyuk

    LintonLad wivawova or warren barton, or jon anderson for that matter, hated both when they were playing for us.

  • Happyharrys2011

    Don’t know how this man hasn’t been mentioned probably the best signing in modern history. “KILLER” what a legend never mind hero. He is the single biggest reason we have never been in the third tier of English football.

  • kidda

    John Tudor…very underrated.

  • AMarkDixon

    wivawova Frank Pingle mentioned in the same paragraph as Tony Green.  Wow……

  • AMarkDixon

    Why’s no-one mentioned Kenny Wharton?  I bloody loved him when I was growing up.  Proper old school player.  7 stone when wet through and could mix it with the best of them.

  • AndrewCowley1

    Kilcline was mine he was like cloughs signing of Mackay.

  • desree

    gavin peacock did a great job for NUFC, bracewell too.
    More recently habib beye seemed bothered to put in a performance.

  • LintonLad

    kidda Halleluyah!

  • AB233

    Robert, Batty, Gillespie, Shaka, Kluivert, Solano! Parker, Even Dyer and Jenas really.

  • AB233

    AMarkDixon Doesn’t he drive NASCAR