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Are Newcastle United missing characters such as this one…?

4 years ago
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“We’ve got to get back there for these people of Newcastle United because they deserve 1st Division soccer. And if we can’t give them that then we need our arses punched”

That quote was taken from an interview with John ‘Budgie’ Burridge after making his Newcastle debut in a 4-0 win against Reading at St James Park in October 1989.

Personally I’d stick it up on the home dressing room wall at St James Park.

I stumbled upon the clip after watching his famous warm up on YouTube via Twitter and there was a two and half minute clip of Budgie’s debut in the suggested column beneath it, so gave it a whirl.

A pretty eventful game where the lads won, as the scoreline suggests, pretty comfortably. This wasn’t the whole story though, as John Burridge was called into the action to make a number of notable saves pulled off in his own unique style.

[youtube=https://youtu.be/EKO5000Ljmo&w=600]

Budgie is a well known character in football, his career spanned 1969 – 1997 and totalling 768 league appearances, 67 of which were for Newcastle during 1989 – 1991. Budgie also made a non-playing return to the club 1994 in an eventful year where he was registered to play with 8 different clubs – Has gloves, will play.

I wouldn’t put John Burridge in the ‘legend’ status at NUFC but I do certainly remember him, not only for his goalkeeping but also for his famous/infamous ‘Subs Bench’ shop in town. Along with his unique character, the thing that struck me in the interview footage is Budgie’s unrelenting dedication to his trade.

My brother in law told me a story about a time when Budgie was warming up before a first team match, he’d have the juniors swing crosses in for him to come out and catch in front of a filling Gallowgate End. Bearing in mind that’s a pretty big deal for a young’un to be on the pitch before a first team game – it didn’t matter to Budgie he’d be shouting and bawling if the cross wasn’t up to scratch.

Watching his warm-up you could be forgiven for thinking Budgie was an attention seeker – but he swears every exercise had a purpose.

[youtube=https://youtu.be/BRulE9858eE&w=600]

Who’s going to argue with his method? Budgie made his last top level appearance at the age of 43 years old, which is still a record today.

What I also liked about the interview was there was no PR trained answers and I admired the honesty and the enthusiasm coming through the camera. I mean, the language used is hilarious; I’ve never lived in fear that my arse might get punched but there you go.

There is a dearth of characters in top level football nowadays. Maybe that’s unfair as I don’t know what goes on when the cameras are off and the players are just being themselves behind closed doors – but can you imagine a modern day professional travelling from Durham to Edinburgh by train and moped to training every day, to play for Hibernian?

I took a lot of enjoyment from the two short clips and I’d imagine his autobiography is a decent read. Hopefully, if Santa’s good to me, there’ll be a (copy of) Budgie in my stocking this year.

You can follow the author on Twitter @lyon1892

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