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Opinion

Peter Beardsley still your hero?

4 weeks ago
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Peter Beardsley is the best player I have ever seen in a Newcastle United shirt.

No question.

In fact, Peter Beardsley is the greatest NUFC I have ever seen, twice over.

He played from 1983 until 1987 at St James Park after the club missed out on him as a kid, Arthur Cox bringing him over from Vancouver Whitecaps.

Then Kevin Keegan famously fibbed to John Hall about the player’s age, bringing a 32 year old Peter Beardsley back to Tyneside from Everton for what was a sizeable £1.5m fee at the time. Not a signing that would have got past Mike Ashley’s eagle eye!

What a season 1983/84 was to be a Newcastle fan, bringing to an end the Division Two wilderness years of the late 70s and early 80s.

As a teenager, I travelled everywhere that season, hardly missing a game.

People might look at the basic stats and say Newcastle only got promoted in third, so what’s the big deal?

However, Newcastle United were THE team to watch that season, including those in the first division. A forward line of Kevin Keegan, Chris Waddle and Peter Beardsley was so thrilling to watch, especially with so many barren years preceding it. Keegan’s first season playing alongside Imre Varadi was a big step up but this was something else.

It was pure entertainment and mainly winning football, all three forwards complemented each other but Peter Beardsley dancing through the opposition defence was the best.

So many memories…chipping seven foot tall Joe Corrigan in front of the Gallowgate, ripping promotion rivals Man City apart 5-0, then of course back in the top tier, without Kevin Keegan, Waddle and Beardsley continued to progress and entertain, despite the handicap of Jack Charlton coming in as manager.

Jumping forward, so many people laughed at Kevin Keegan bringing in a 32 year Peter Beardsley in 1993 but yet again he showed what a brilliant manager he was, so many superb signings.

Remarkably, I would say Beardsley was even better the second time around.

Even more of you will relate to this 90s era, Premier League finishes of third, sixth, second and second, Peter Beardsley a (the?) key member of the ‘Entertainers’ era.

That partnership with Andy Cole, 65 (SIXTY FIVE) goals between them that 1993/94 season, 24 for Peter Beardsley and he made many of Cole’s 41 as well. That was easily the best ever promoted team who with Beardsley’s help finished third and qualified for Europe.

The only question is whether the 1995/96 season (during which PB turned 35) partnership with Les Ferdinand was even better, not as many goals maybe (40 – 11 for Beardsley, 29 for Ferdinand) but maybe a far better overall team contribution, as Beardsley helped to set Ginola and Gillespie alight.

His final NUFC season saw Beardsley drop back into a more withdrawn role, with Shearer and Ferdinand up front, Bearsdley and Rob Lee behind, Ginola and Asprilla also involved, what a team.

Jumping forward 22 years those are ‘just’ memories but they are very vivid ones, such exciting times to be a Newcastle fans, particularly compared to this ongoing misery, on and off the pitch, under Mike Ashley.

I truly feel sorry for younger fans who missed out on those Peter Beardsley eras, especially if they were also too young to be around for the Sir Bobby days.

So is Peter Beardsley still my hero?

Yes and no.

For me the clock stops in 1997, Peter Beardsley the brilliant player than Newcastle United fans loved to watch.

Kevin Keegan, Les Ferdinand and Andy Cole all gave character witness statements but that doesn’t alter the fact that a three day FA hearing with many witnesses, found him guilty of making racist comments to young Newcastle players in his care. Calling somebody a ‘Monkey’ and telling young black players that they should be naturals at climbing trees crosses a massive line. Never mind the wider claims of bullying that don’t appear to have been addressed by The FA.

To be honest, any respect I had for Peter Beardsley the person was already long gone.

As well as his media comments I was present at any number of talk-ins/dinners where Peter Beardsley blindly backed Mike Ashley on so many indefensible topics. Totally embarrassing to see somebody prepared to say whatever just because he was so grateful to be given a job bu this owner.

It was a sight to see when Newcastle fans of a certain age would be hearing this from Beardsley for the first time, people stunned that their footballing hero was so willing to side with Mike Ashley against the fans.

They say never meet your heroes.

Maybe with football players you just have to accept that the cut off point is when they no longer play football.

The likes of Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer are rare examples, people who grow even bigger in terms of your admiration once no longer employed by your football club. The fact that Mike Ashley sees both of them as enemies is all you need to know.

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