There are lots of bad things about getting older – but there’s at least one good thing. At least I’ve experienced some good times following Newcastle United.
I feel sorry for our younger supporters at the moment – it’s just so…..bleak.
But you’ve got to be an optimist. I am – I think things will turn round pretty soon, and I still think we’ll do ok this season (although after sitting through that desperate 90 minutes against Watford, even my confidence was shaken).
You can get 12/1 at the moment on us finishing in the top 10! Come on – that’s got to be a good bet, hasn’t it?
Anyway. Looking at the current crop of weak-willed, over-paid, lily-livered players we had out on the pitch against Watford, I got to thinking – what we need are characters. The current team are full of fear. There is no leader. There are no heroes.
One of the things we could do with is – a real Cool Dude.
So, casting my mind back, I’ve come up with my suggested all-time NUFC top three Cool Dudes.
I should just say, when I say ‘all-time’, I’ve limited myself to the ones I can remember (which goes back to mid 70s). So, for example, I have reason to believe that Len Shackleton may have been a real Cool Dude – but he’s before my time, so I’ve left him out.
What do I mean by a Cool Dude?
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that it’s just somebody who’s good looking, or a bit smooth, or a bit cocky. No. In my book a Cool Dude is someone who is confident and comfortable in himself – he’s happy in his own skin. He looks at himself and he isn’t filled with self-doubt or with fear.
He looks at himself and he thinks: “This is who I am and this is what I do. I’m pretty happy with who I am and what I do. It would be cool if other people like who I am and what I do; but if they don’t, I don’t really mind, that’s kind of cool too. I’m just going to do my thing regardless.”
There are plenty of people who go to great lengths to look Cool – but they’re not.
A real Cool Dude isn’t too bothered what he looks like to the outside world. Christiano Ronaldo and David Beckham are not Cool Dudes.
And a Cool Dude isn’t just somebody that you really really like or admire. I will bow to no one in my love and admiration for Kevin Keegan. But he’s not a Cool Dude. An inspiration, leader-of-men, all-round-fantastic-person, yes – Cool Dude, no.
So, a tip of the cap first to some of those who didn’t make my top 3 – Malcolm Macdonald, Terry McDermott, Philippe Albert, Kevin Nolan, Hatem Ben Arfa.
You see, it’s nothing to do with looks.
Cast your mind back to days even grimmer than the ones we’re going through now. It’s 1992. Newcastle are sliding haplessly towards Division 3 and likely oblivion.
Kevin Keegan returns to try to save the club – once again. His first signing? Brian ‘Killer’ Kilcline – a great big, has-been, slow-as-a-carthorse, clogger of a centre-half.
But Our Kev knew exactly what he was doing. You see Brian Kilcline was a Real Cool Dude. Amongst all the panic and confusion and despair – he was just going to do his thing. And what was his thing. My recollection is of a huge, unkempt, brute-of-a-man – giving off an aura of complete self-belief.
He played the game with limited skill but with an air of quiet brutality. I don’t really remember him kicking lumps out of people. It was more that if anyone did go into a challenge with him (and if you were a forward you’d think twice wouldn’t you!), there was only one man coming out of it standing.
I picture him standing over a crumpled heap of opposition, looking down with a mixture of mild concern, quiet amusement, and contempt at the foolish weakness of others.
Couple his on-pitch exploits with a bohemian off-pitch persona. I seem to recollect tales of him living on a canal longboat, or a caravan, or some such. Since giving up the game has he gone into management, or punditry? No – he has renovated dilapidated old houses and gone backpacking in India.
Brian Kilcline – a real Cool Dude
And being a Cool Dude is nothing to do with being a colourful or flamboyant personality either. Alan Shearer – the man who famously celebrated winning the league title by creosoting his garden fence.
What it is all about is a certain self-confidence.
Now it helps to be self-confident if you’re actually good at what you’re doing. And there was a time before he was changed by injury when Alan Shearer was the best player in the world. Watching him at St James’, playing a lot of the time in really good teams with really good players, he was just the best – at everything.
He was (of course) the best goalscorer. But he was also the best crosser of a ball, the best free-kick taker, the best header of a ball, the best defender from a corner, the best tackler – if he’d been given a chance I dare say he could probably have given Shay Given a run as best goalkeeper.
He was just phenomenally good – at everything. And, modest as he was, deep down he knew it – and you knew that he knew it.
He was also hard as nails.
I have particularly fond memories of his confrontations with Roy Keane. The feared Roy Keane. He would come to St James’ and try to intimidate, to impose himself – and Shearer would treat him like a foolish schoolboy. I remember vividly one confrontation somewhere in front of the East Stand.
The two had clashed repeatedly and had emerged from yet another crunching tackle. Roy Keane – eyes popping, veins bulging, teeth snarling and spittle dribbling – went toe-to-toe with Big Al. Did Alan snarl back? Did he hurl abuse back? Did he pretend to have been head-butted and sink to the ground? Did he hang. He calmly looked Roy Keane in the eye – and laughed. It was just glorious.
But who can beat Alan Shearer to the number 1 spot? Surely Shearer was number one at everything. I’m afraid in my list of Cool Dudes, Alan you have to take second billing to the ultimate NUFC Cool Dude
Cool Dudes often make really good entrances and there could be none cooler than Tino’s entrance.
The football world in 1995/6 wasn’t quite the cosmopolitan place it is today. Players didn’t get around quite so much as they do now.
In particular, South Americans in English football were still something strange and exotic. So it was with some interest that the football world and in particular our corner of it, waited to see a Colombian footballing star arrive in a cold, wintry north east in February 1996.
Now when you go to take up a new job in a strange place where you know absolutely nobody, the temptation for a normal person might be to shrink into the shell a bit, to be a bit shy, a bit cagey. Not Tino.
Somebody clearly told him that it might be a bit chilly where he was going. His response? Did he invest in a nice warm nylon puffer-jacket? No – he entered onto the snowy scene wearing an enormous and outrageous fur coat.
On the pitch – well sometimes if truth be told he was a bit too cool. On his day he was fantastic – but if it didn’t feel like his day, well he wasn’t going to get into a state about it.
But on his day! Nobody who was there will forget that night against Barcelona. St James’ was just super-charged. It was incredible. And that was Tino’s stage. I remember him seeming to hang in the air for the second and third goals. Have a look at it on youtube now to remind yourself what the good times feel like.
And since giving up the game – well the fantastic world of Faustino Asprilla is a gift that just keeps on giving. I read an article on one of his latest escapades which opens: “Really, there should be a camera crew following Faustino Asprilla at all times and filming every aspect of his life.”
A rich and extraordinary CV includes being arrested “for spraying security forces with machine-gun bullets”, being courted by the porn industry as a prospective leading man, going into business with his own range of condoms (his personal favourite is guava flavour).
Most recently in the news for lending a valuable racehorse to a friend so that he could ride it to a local fair (that’s right – he loaned a racehorse worth 10s-of-thousands to his friend so he could ride it into town); the matter took a turn for the worse when Tino’s friend got drunk and “gave the horse away”.
Thankfully horse and owner were eventually re-united.
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