Essential Reading: The A to H of Newcastle United
Thanks very much to writer David McAvelia for taking on the task of an A-Z of Newcastle United.
Obviously the idea is not to include every single person or event but this is a very entertaining look at many of the things that make our club what it is.
So here is David’s (with a little help from friends) A-H of Newcastle United to kick us off (the other letters to follow…):
A is for Ashley
Mystical, deep pocketed, entrepreneurial retailer who baffles and bamboozles the Geordie public, taking them on a journey of relegation, stadium renamings and Wonga sponsorship with Wise, Kinnear and Carver driving the bus over the cliff. A dismal string of cup runs had the Geordie public with their heads in their hands, ironically followed by Ashley’s announcement that he wouldn’t sell up until we’d won some silverware. But just when you felt there was no hope he throws us a lifeline in the form of Rafa Benitez. To use the words of the great Sid Waddell “as predictable as a wasp on speed”.
A is for Asprilla
…and you thought Mitrovic was a bit crackers? Anyone who signs for a club and rocks up in the snow nonchalantly shaking hands with fans in an oversized grey furry donkey jacket is going to be absolutely mustard or absolutely rubbish. Lucky for Newcastle fans, it was the former. Tino is notorious for missing training as he was having a threesome and playing a dodgy film on the team coach and declaring the actress was his Mrs. Will go down in history for banging in three against Barca and also banging everything in sight in Julie’s night club on a Saturday night.
Tino played 48 times for Newcastle, scoring 9 goals.
B is for Ball Boy
If you were lucky enough to be selected as a ball boy in the late 80s and early 90s you’d get the opportunity to grace St James Park, touch the match ball and get close to Benny Kristensen. You’d also get the privilege of wearing a silver, Co-op sponsored tracksuit that seemed to do the rounds for at least 5 seasons. Sadly for the ball boys it was one size fits all, a scheme that backfired on one porky young lad at the Gallowgate end who managed to rip his pants and show off his bright white shreddies for the whole game.
B is for Big Club
Term used by Sky Soccer Saturday pundits and national journalists to describe our club much to the amusement of other fans who think we are anything but, largely due to our lack of trophy wins in the last few decades. However, if “big” refers to fan base, passion and dedication, we must be up there with the “biggest” in the world. If I never hear these stupid words together ever again I won’t be sorry.
B is for Boot Boy Alley.
Narrow, cobbled pathway linking the Strawberry to the East Stand. References as to why it was given its name are scarce. Well known for its uneven footing and rubbish paint brush graffiti referencing Mackems, Hammers and the price of petrol.
C is for Clark, Lee
Everything that’s right about football. Local, loyal, passionate, skilful, if Lee Clark played for NUFC now he’d have guaranteed celebratory status alongside Ant and Dec, Cheryl Cole and them knackers off Geordie Shore. Even a stint at the Mackems didn’t erode our love for Clarky. Appearing in an SMB T-shirt outside Wembley in 1998 with the toon fans cemented his status as a hero.
Made 195 appearances for NUFC before moving to Sunderland. Now managing Bury.
C is for Corner
Radge part of the Gallowgate (see photo at top). In the days before all seater stadiums I’d usually get stern words from my Mam before heading to the match; “you’re not allowed to stand in the corner!”. Boisterous and noisy, the fans here were so crackers they’d typically goad their mates in the so called Scoreboard terrace just next door- “Sing in the library” or “why’s the Scoreboard full of….”. Still an iconic part of the ground even though seats have replaced the stained terraces.
C is for ‘Classy’ Foreigners
Andreas Andersson, Shefki Kuqi, Amalfitano, Cacapa, Marcelino, Xisco, Pancrate, nothing gets the pulse racing in the transfer window more than an exotic name being linked with the Toon. These days youngsters can rate our potential sigings through hazy YouTube footage from the lower tiers of Spanish football or even from FIFA17 player ratings. The older pre internet generation had to save their judgement for the debut performance, knowing there’s a pretty good chance that the bitey northerly winds and driving rain will most likely send these lads back yem pretty sharpish.
D is for Decked
(1) if you had to take a punch in the face from any Newcastle United player past or present, Alan Shearer would not be on your list of preferred players. Sadly for Keith Gillespie after a few too many sherbets during a 1997 squad building trip to Dublin, he found out that Shearer’s right hook was as lethal as his right foot. After the club captain ordered Gillespie to pick up some cutlery he’d knocked over in a drunken stupor, Gillespie flatly refused then offered out Shearer. Gillespie knew he had to get in the first blow, a swing and a miss was followed up by a punch from Shearer that put the young Northern Irishman in hospital. Apparently they soon made up and laugh about it now, Andreas Andersson would have been a wiser opponent.
(2) if you had to take a ball in the face from any Newcastle United player past or present, Laurent Robert would not be on your list of preferred players. Sadly for Olivier Bernard during a game at the Walkers Stadium, he found out exactly how hard Laurent Robert could smash a ball. After taking one in the mush Bernard staggered around like a punch drunk boxer before falling to the deck. Bernard played on and the lads came back from a goal down to draw thanks to a Darren Ambrose goal. Darren Ambrose, that’s right, Darren Ambrose.
You can watch the gruesome footage here:
D is for Delusional – (see Big Club)
Term used by fans of other league clubs who mistake the passion of 50,000 Geordie fans and packed out away ends for the expectation of a trophy every season. Somewhat ironic when you listen to Arsenal fans chanting for the head of Arsene Wenger who has enough silverware to prevent his flight home getting off the runway.
E is for Entertainers
Was there a better time to be a Newcastle fan? From near relegation to the third tier of English football to the top of the Premier League. John Hall, Keegan, 11 wins, Leicester 7-1, terraces, Andy Cole, Clarky, Bobby Lee, Pav, letting in goals so long as we scored more, Terry Mac, wingers, Fenton, that game against Liverpool. We didn’t win owt but what a time to be alive.
F is for FA Cup
Believe it or not we’ve won this bit of silverware six times. The last time being in 1955 when milk was 3p a pint, a pound could buy you 15 pints and Winston Churchill was prime minister. Despite our current owner’s insistence that we will win a trophy under him, our recent FA Cup record is quite frankly embarrassing. “Time to concentrate on the league” is a common Geordie phrase heard after early round FA Cup games at St James Park.
F is for Fereday, as in Wayne
Hyena like 1980s player who was rumoured to be the fastest player in the league. Quite how this rumour started is anybody’s guess but he is still used as a measure of land speed for potential signings. “I hear Ruel Fox can run the 100 metres in 9 seconds” – “Aye, still not as fast as Fereday though”.
Made 33 appearances for Newcastle in the late 80s. Could have been even faster if he’d shaved off his 5kg tash.
G is for Geordie Burger
If you’re feeling peckish at St James Park why not treat yourself to a meal deal. A bottle of pop and a Snickers will cost you close to a fiver, or if you’re feeling flush a horse burger and a carton of soggy chips will soak up your morning’s alcohol intake. But back in the early-mid 90s for the price of £1.50 you could have a Geordie Burger. I’m not entirely sure what went into these bad boys but they tasted bloody good and you could barely fit them in both hands. I once witnessed a bloke throw his on the pitch in a game against Ipswich, it almost knocked out the ball boy.
G is for Ginola, David
In 1995 when David Ginola appeared on the front cover of The Mag and the back page of the Chronicle, the hearts of the Newcastle faithful melted. Whilst the women swooned at this tanned, six foot floppy haired Adonis, the gents cried “Bonjour” at the sight of Mrs Ginola decked head to toe in stripes replicating our famous shirt. Most likely the best looking so and so who’s ever played for us, the fact that he was an absolute dazzler and turned defences inside out in over 50 appearances gives him superstar status. However, Dalglish didn’t like him and he was soon replaced by his son, Rush and Barnes. Tragic.
G is for Green, Tony
Made just 33 appearances after arriving in 1971. Signed from Blackpool for £150,000 and a swap for Keith Dyson (who didn’t go on to make vacuum cleaners). Ask your old man about him, mine reckons he’s the best player he ever watched in a Newcastle shirt. “After they made Tony Green they threw away the mould” – Joe Harvey
H is for Hair
Joe Allon, Brian Kilcline, Peter Beardsley and Beasant all have belter haircuts. Ketsbaia and Jonjo don’t.
H is for Header
We all love to see a player rising like a salmon before nodding one past the keeper. A few belters spring to mind, Shearer’s nod against Bayern Leverkusen, Andy Carroll against Scunthorpe in 2010 and Les Ferdinand against Man City in 1995. However, few of these screamers will beat Kevin Scott’s effort against Brentford in 1993. The fact that he headed it into his own next shouldn’t take the shine off it.
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