When Anthony Martial raced away from our backline in the 34th minute of the Manchester United home game, it seemed there would only be one outcome. Yet our new Slovakian number one, Martin Dubravka, had other ideas. Somehow denying the French forward and laying the groundwork for our first PL home win since October.

Everything about Dubravka’s performance in that game couldn’t help but fill even the most pessimistic of Toon fans with confidence in our latest goalkeeper. Whilst I like both other senior keepers, Elliott and Darlow, as people and professionals, neither have looked up to Premier League quality this season, and that has quite simply cost us precious points.

It finally looks as if Rafa has got the keeper he first wanted last summer, and it could prove decisive in the race to 40 points and assure our Premier League status. But can just one performance provide fans with an unrealistic amount of expectations going forward?

After all, it was not the first stunning debut we have seen at SJP down the years, but not every impressive start leads to a great Newcastle career. It doesn’t always mean the player concerned is able to hit those heights every time he pulls on a black and white shirt.

With that in mind, let’s go back and take a look at some of the best debuts in Newcastle United history.

*Also just to be clear, these debuts are not including friendly matches.

Papiss Demba Cisse V Aston Villa (H) 2012

An obvious one to start but it stands out as one of the most immediate impacts any Newcastle United player has made in recent years. The choice is far from widespread, but Cisse is certainly the biggest January window ‘impact signing’ in the Mike Ashley era.

His home debut against Aston Villa followed the perfect script. With Leon Best departing early in the game, Cisse was introduced from the bench by Alan Pardew, immediately linking up with his national teammate Demba Ba.

Although Villa were struggling, while we were in the race for a Champions League place, it was a pretty tight game with both sides having decent chances. With the score deadlocked at 1-1 and just under 20 minutes to play, Jonas Gutierrez charged down the left wing and swung in a hopeful cross. It fell perfectly to our new Senegalese Shearer just inside the area. Papiss proceeded to take it on the chest before smashing an incredible volley past Shay Given, right in the top corner at the Gallowgate end.

A goal that somehow looks even more perfect each time you watch it. The more bizarre element of his debut was that Cisse’s performance was not purely all about his wonder-strike. His all round game, work rate and link-up play was a joy to watch and he dominated the Villa defence all afternoon.

In truth, this was not an indicator of how he would play in the rest of his time with the Mags. After a dream debut and incredible scoring run in his first half season, Cisse would increasingly appear as the type of striker who if not scoring would contribute nothing expect goals, and when they dried up it was often like playing with 10 players, not helped with his constant desire to stand in offside positions.

His debut did however, demonstrate his knack of scoring astonishing goals, with two at Chelsea at the end of that season an undeniable highlight. In that way, Cisse’s inauguration at SJP was most fitting.

Tino Asprilla V Middlesbrough (A) 1996  

From the classic North-Eastern snowy arrival in a fur coat, to the pre-match half glass of wine, the story of Tino’s arrival is well told.

Another debut from the bench, another mid-season signing, Asprilla was such an unknown quantity no defenders in his early appearances looked like they’d be able to deal with his unconventional style.

One-nil down to Boro, in the 67th minute King Kev turned to his new signing. Although he didn’t score himself, Asprilla undoubtedly turned the Tees-Tyne derby almost single-handedly. After bamboozling the Boro full back in his first one-on-one situation he sent over an inch perfect cross headed in by Steve Watson.

The game turned in a flash, the Mags had initially struggled to play their normal fast attacking style up to that point, but Asprilla was a game-changer. It was perhaps a debut that it would be hard for any player to then live up to over the course of a career, but he constantly gave entertainment and a knack for winning a game almost on his own. His first appearance perhaps summed up his Toon career, fleeting but thrilling.

Jonjo Shelvey V West Ham (H) 2016

In my mind, the last player to have a debut as impressive as Dubravka’s was the sky sports official man of the match in that same (Man Utd) game, Jonjo Shelvey.

His debut against West Ham was so impressive I briefly thought we had got Xabi Alonso rather than the former Swansea man. He completely dictated the tempo of the game, almost immediately winning over the crowd with an impressive range of passing. Shelvey’s introduction led to one of the few cohesive performances under McClaren, a brilliant pass into Gini Wijnaldum directly set-up Ayoze Perez for the opener.

The second was also down to the new arrival, with a magnificent long-range pass, switching play to the other flank and right into the path of Daryl Janmatt, who then squared in Winlajdum for the second. Shelvey was applauded off by many at the end of that game, rightly given man of the match. Yet I would argue it remains probably the best game Shelvey has had for the club.

His mobility has been an issue at times this season with his lack of pace exposed more in the Premier League than in the Championship. His disciplinary record at us is also pretty shocking. Inconsistency is the most prominent theme of his career so far and even recently that has shown no signs of letting up.

Even last week he followed up an impressive display against Manchester United, with a desperately disappointing second half against Bournemouth after starting the game well. Improvement is still needed if he is to live up to the bar set with that stunning debut against West Ham,

Malcolm Macdonald V Liverpool (H) 1971

A bit of a cheat this one, as it’s a home debut rather than a full one, but it would hard to do this list without mentioning Malcolm Macdonald’s first game at Gallowgate against Liverpool.

I have watched the footage of this game countless times with the crowd so close to the pitch they are almost in play. The finishes are classic Macdonald, powerhouse efforts that give Ray Clemence no chance, A sign of what was to come for Supermac in the famous number nine shirt. The crowd even chanting his name to the tune of Jesus Christ superstar, completing a real-life Roy-of-the-rovers debut.

The fact he was carried off after being clattered by Clemence when trying to score a fourth, perfectly demonstrates the ruthless goal scoring nature of ‘supermac’. Goals at any cost was the aim. The fact that the Liverpool side featured a certain Kevin Keegan, completes the symmetry of a historic day in the club’s history.

Tim Krul V Palermo, 2006

It is hard to recall a more surprisingly brilliant debut than Tim Krul against Palermo in 2006.

In a season ravaged by injuries, Krul was one of several youth players handed senior debuts to cover first-team absences. At just 18 years old Krul was handed his debut in a European away tie to the Serie A leaders Palermo.

We had just lost 1-0 at home to Sheffield United and were struggling badly in the Premier League. Yet after Albert Luque (and people say Joselu’s bad) had headed in a James Milner cross, incredibly we had a lead and a foothold in the game.

Despite facing an onslaught for near enough the entire second half, Krul brilliantly kept the Italians at bay making save after save, with one incredible double stop standing out as borderline ridiculous.

Luque may have been the match winner on paper, but Krul was the real reason the three points came back to Tyneside.

Krul had his fair share of superb performances during a respectable 11 year career in Toon, but it’s hard to top this performance for standout brilliance. Ironically, his domestic league debut was still four years away in the first game of the championship 09-10 season when replacing Steve Harper at half time after an injury. Krul was brilliant once again in his ‘second debut’, making multiple reaction saves to deny West Brom victory.

He still wasn’t able to wrestle the number one goalkeeping spot for another two seasons, with both of his debuts oddly out of place with the rest of his career, they were also arguably his best performances in a Newcastle shirt.

This list is not comprehensive, just a few that stood out as particularly memorable.

Are there any more stunning debuts from ex-toon players that I have missed?

Which was your personal favourite Newcastle United debut?

Please leave your own top three debuts in the comments section.

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  • Jezza

    Can’t believe there is no mention of Mick Quinn scoring four goals on his debut against Leeds.

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      Mick will put that right in his next article

      • Peaky Magpie


    • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

      good call Jezza,a sack the board Boycott meant it was only a sell-out crowd.

      • Whitehurst

        Remember being part of 3,000 demonstrating on Northumberland Street the season before! Think it was when we’d lost at home to Charlton? Bins got chucked through Freeman, Hardy & Willis shoe shop!! 😂 Great days!! 😬

        • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

          A few years earlier it could have been freeman hardy and Willis being thrown through Binns

          • Whitehurst

            Class mate….you’re wasted on here!! 😂😂😂

    • TheFatController

      Maybe it’s been forgotten given Mick is so humble about it……?

      But yes, he went out that day with no excuses in his mind, no ‘I don’t mind I who scores so long as we win’ mentality, he was here to score goals, and his poor old granny better not get in his way.

      Just on Krul, Spurs away was surely his highlight, especially the save and Mbiwa clearance ?

    • Whitehurst

      Aye completely agree Jezza! why was this not mentioned. 1-2 down as well. Paul Stephenson tore them to bits in 2nd half!! Think I was in East Stsnd for that!

      • Jezza

        You’re mistaken there, marra. Paul Stephenson had moved to Millwall long before that match. The player you’re thinking about is John Gallagher, another debutant that day, 50 grand from Falkirk and he ran the Leeds defence ragged. Great memories.

        • Whitehurst

          Good call Jezza!! I knew when I wrote it…that it may not have been Stephenson. Forgot about John Gallagher. Like the fore mentioned….great talent but injury ridden. 🤕 Respect fella….me thinks we are cut from the same cloth?! 🤔 Still agreed on the great memories bit tho!! 😍

          • Jezza

            Yes, marra, if you love reminiscing about the old days we’re definitely cut from the same cloth. We never realised how lucky we were at the time. The match day experience stood on an uncovered terrace among a 20 odd thousand crowd back then was so much better than anything you get at the modern day, all seated, all covered St James’s Park with 50,000 crowds.

          • Brian Standen

            It was infinitely more fun, very exciting and often quite naughty so to speak

          • Jezza

            I kept away from the naughty side of things. I was just there to support my team. I never wanted any aggro, I avoided that side ot it at all costs though to be truthfull I saw very little of it in and around football grounds anyway.

          • Brian Standen

            In those times 70s and 80s it was a fact SJP had an edge to it. Most grounds did and at times it was hard to stay completely clear of it.
            But as I have said before they were different times socially!
            Most trouble in grounds was eradicated with all seater stadium however the downside to that is the atmosphere softened! It’s a fact that a 25000 crowd in the 80s were seemingly more passionate than a 50000 crowd now!
            Celtic have now proved safe standing is possible so for me bring it back to SJP!

          • Jezza

            As I said I never realy saw much bother in those days, maybe because I actively avoided it. I do recall some isolated incidents at places like Leeds, Middlesborough and Bristol City but on the whole I managed to keep away from that side of things.

            You are absolutely right about the atmosphere in the days of 20 odd thousand crowds being infinitely better than it is today with 52,000. In the old days there were fewer of us but we were real people, true fans who really felt it not like the new breed of Sky Sports bandwagon jumping posers who go to matches these days.

          • stevetoontoon

            Gallowgate toilets were a treat especially when it pi$$ed down!!!

        • Brian Standen

          Aye if only your Gallacher did not pick up a bad injury, was never the same. Pity!

    • molend

      Saw the New Year in with Mickey a few years back when he was playing for PAOK. Really nice fella. Loved the Toon.

  • ghostrider

    Kevin Keegan debut against Q.P.R.

    • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

      Oh yes, I was just a kid and went with my Dad and ended up in the ‘corner’ at the very back which was a bit of an experience compared to usual West Stand Paddock my Dad would usually favour with me. I’d also stood on some chewing gum and a lads rather expensive lyle & Scott jumper which was taken off due to the warmer weather and electric atmosphere.

  • Rich Lawson

    Krul’s debut was breathtaking, but surely Keegan against QPR lifted the whole community ?

    • Peaky Magpie

      Yes,queued for hours that day…red hot if I can remember and wasn’t Concord in town that weekend ???

      • Rich Lawson

        Yes that’s right,me dad went to see both.

        • Peaky Magpie

          Great day….on another note I spoke too soon yesterday….snowing like hell today !!! Have you much where you are ?

          • Rich Lawson

            I live high up on the edge of a moor,really came down overnight,snowed in at the moment !

          • Peaky Magpie

            Same here,I’m really high up in Staff Moorlands,horrific as I type,nothing getting through !

    • molend

      Slightly off topic, but there’ve been three gob-smacked moments in my long time as a Toon supporter: when Keegan signed; when Shearer signed; and when Benitez signed. Favourite debut? Ivor Allchurch. Wor Aud’s wedding day. When the news filtered through to the reception, pandemonium, led by the blushing bride

    • Jezza

      I’ll never forget that day either. Queuing up in Strawberry Place from 10 in the morning in the glorious August sun. After that match the buzz was incredible. It felt like anything was possible.

      • Brian Standen

        Aye. The queue that actually went through the strawberry! Amazing day

      • Rich Lawson

        Happy Days mate.

  • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

    I’ll add Jak Alnwick against Chelsea.

  • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

    I’m not sure if it was his debut but i think it was his first full game, Ian Bogie away to Oxford when Oxford were in the top division. Bogie was superb.

  • TheFatController

    I was at probably the most disappointing (four) debuts ever. 4-0 stuffed by Everton August 1988. Although a couple did play ok after that, we basically frazzled the Gazza bonanza for that lot….(with some Neil McDonald wedge too)

    You buy a keeper and CB for huge money (in those days) and Tony Cottee scores against them first kick.

    • Jezza

      Yes joint club transfer record fees for a keeper and a centre half and we went 1-0 down after 34 seconds. I’ll never forget that day. It was particularly painful for me because I had to sit among the Everton fans after a foul up by the St James’s Park ticket office left me without a ticket for the sold out away end.

    • David Craig

      I was at that game, celebrating the start of a new season, with some hope, jumping about and singing, then we all wondered why the Everton fans were cheering and then all thinking “why’s the ball in the back of our net?” Season hopes over in less than a minute!

  • Mxpx

    Duncan fergusson he scored twice against Wimbledon won 3-1 I was there grinning away thinking he would be lethal with shearer and a good replacement for les ferdinand who should have never been sold

  • PercyArcade

    Superman and Keegan for me. Still have the programme from Supermac’s debut. Talk about making an entrance!! 🍻😃🍻

  • Tynewalker

    My favourite which I watched was Dave Hollins March 1961 v Spurs at White Hart Lane.They won the double, we were relegated but we beat them 2 1with 10 men.
    Hollins was magnificent. Always liked him he played several blinders.

  • The Vicar

    Actually at the Supermac game. His first was a penalty and I thought for an instant that it was going over the bar. For the second he outpaced Tommy Smith, who was actually very fast, to score left foot across the keeper.

    • Tynewalker

      I agree I was convinced it was over the top.
      Carried off concussed added to the drama of his 3 goal debut.

  • Antenociticus

    I’ll never forget Supermac’s home debut. My Dad usually took me in the Leazes but the lines were long. So, we went in the popular side (now the East stand) and down a tunnel to the “transfer gate” where we managed to get into the Leazes by paying a tanner.

  • Sing in the Leazes

    Duncan Ferguson v Wimbledon
    won everything
    scored 2.

    Kevin Keegan
    first sell out crowd in ages
    won the game
    both very good debuts

  • Mirandinha9

    What an absolute joke! Keegan’s debut in ‘82 not in the 5. Goodness, the crowd were queuing outside the Gallowgate from 10.30am on the morning of the match. This was the double European Footballer of the year and captain of England signing for us – we were a mediocre second division team at the time. Then King Kev, scored at the Gallowgate as the crowd ‘sucked it in’. There is only one majestic Toon debut and its that of King Kev. When the vicar says Jesus saves, we say, “aye, but, Keegan scored”. Keegan, will always be Newcastle’s greatest signing. Statues of Robson, Shearer and a plaque of Harvey and nothing for Keegan. An absolute disgrace!

    • Jezza

      Excellent comment. Sadly there will never be anything at St James’s Park to honour King Kev while that fat slug owns the club.

    • Albert Stubbins

      spot on – long live the King!!

  • Steviemagpie

    Wonder if any older fan remembers Len Shackleton’s debut 6 goals in a 13.0 win take some beating that.

  • Wor Lad

    I know it was only a friendly but Supermacs debut at St James’ Park was against Benfica.

  • Dave Pattinson

    Can’t believe how many of these I was actually at! Supermac, KK, Big Dunc, Quinny, Tino,Cisse etc. All of them memorable occasions but for different reasons. Can’t really say which was my favourite, but lets hope we get a few more to remember…for the right reasons cos we’ve also had a few wrong ‘uns!

  • Desree

    How did Mitrovic not make the list?

  • Gallowgate Dave

    This might have me ridiculed but Sissoko’s debut vs Chelski was incredible. Bossed it in a 3vs2 win, scored two goals and I remember when he beasted Ashley Cole, knocked it round him and out-muscled and outpaced one of the best left backs England has produced and made him look like a schoolkid, I was embarrassed for Cole that day. I honestly thought we’d signed a future Ballon D’or winner. You can see why some scouts were taken in by him as on his day he could be incredible. Shame he was rubbish the other 95% of the time!

  • Gallowgate Dave

    This might have me ridiculed but Sissoko’s home debut vs Chelski was incredible. Absolutely bossed it in a 3 vs 2 win, scored two goals and I remember when he beasted Ashley Cole, knocked it round him and out-muscled and outpaced one of the best left backs England has produced and made him look like a schoolkid, I was embarrassed for Cole that day. I honestly thought we’d signed a future Ballon D’or winner. You can see why some scouts were taken in by him as on his day he could be incredible.

    Shame he was rubbish the other 95% of the time!

    • Mike D

      That bursting run left me gobsmacked. I hear ya!

  • Philippines

    I was at the Super Mac debut. You can see me in the crowd. The windows at the background were student accommodation for Newcastle University.

  • Milo79

    No Mick Quinn vs Leeds?

    • Albert Stubbins

      was just about to put that on – what a day that was- I can still see him turning his back and then running in to score the first – a penalty after a foul on Gallacher.

    • stevetoontoon

      Had couple of quid on mick quinn hatrick😉

  • Keith Inkster

    One clearly missed for me was Mick Quinn’s four goals v Leeds at st James and KK debut v QPR – what a story