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Martin Tyler explains what makes St James Park so special to him

6 months ago
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Martin Tyler is THE commentator of the Premier League era.

The rise and dominance of Sky Sports has meant it is his voice which has been invariably the one providing the commentary, to the very best…and very worst, moments of the past few decades.

Speaking of the very best, it was Martin Tyler on commentary duties back in October 1996 at St James Park.

Martin Tyler picking out the 5-0 win over Man Utd as his most notable memory of St James Park.

Tyler says that on that particular day ‘our Super Sunday tag rang true but only for one United’, a day that will always bring a smile to our faces.

The Sky Sport man says that he often sees Philippe Albert (who works for Belgian TV on Premier League matches) and that match and in particular THAT fifth goal, are never endlessly relived.

As for what stands out in term of liking St James Park, Martin Tyler says it will always be unique for him. As it played host to his debut (and only appearance, so far…) in a film, Tyler appearing in Goal.

Martin Tyler shares some of his favourite facts and memories of St James Park with Sky Sports:

My most notable memory of St James Park

“Newcastle were not in the first Premier League season, but under Kevin Keegan they won promotion that year and took the second Premier League campaign by storm, finishing third.

“With their brand of attacking football, they became known as The Entertainers. The following season, they finished sixth and then, after a tremendous battle, runners-up to Manchester United.

“That rivalry was put to the test in the 1996 Charity Shield, which Alex Ferguson’s team won 4-0. The pain of that Wembley defeat was motivation in itself for the Newcastle team as the two Uniteds met in the Premier League at St James’ Park the following October.

“On Sky Sports, our Super Sunday tag rang true but only for one United, as Newcastle won 5-0. They were like men possessed, even though the first goal from defender Darren Peacock and the third – a powerful header from Les Ferdinand which twice hit the underside of the bar – only just went over the line.

“David Ginola had us reaching for superlatives with a shot that whipped past Peter Schmeichel. Alan Shearer, who carried the fire of the fans in his own heart, also got in on the act.

“It took something extra special to top it all off and Belgian defender Philippe Albert provided it by seeing Peter Schmeichel off his line and chipping the ball over him from 25 yards. A delicious goal! I often see Philippe, who works for Belgian TV, and you can imagine what quickly becomes the topic of conversation.

“Apparently Sir John Hall, who ran Newcastle at the time, proudly said at the final whistle: “You’ve seen the champions today.”

“He was right. Manchester United finished seven points clear! Newcastle ended up second again.

Kevin Keegan described the 5-0 success as his greatest day in management, but by the following January, he was gone. If you got trophies for crowd-pleasing alone, his Newcastle would have had a stack.”

What I like about St James Park

“In 2005, I was asked to appear as myself in the film ‘Goal’ and all my scenes were shot at the ground, even the ones where I was supposed to be in a different stadium.

“It is the only place where I have ever appeared in a movie so you can understand why I DO LIKE THIS GROUND!”

What’s it like to commentate there

“This is another ground which has undergone changes for broadcasters. When the Milburn Stand was redeveloped in 2000, the gantry was moved further from the pitch, but I think I speak for all my colleagues when I say that the only real problem when you work there is the design of the numbers on the back of the Newcastle shirts.

“Printing them over black and white stripes makes them very hard to distinguish, whatever the colour. However eagle-eyed the commentator, those numbers are vital for identification when a split-second call is needed.

“In the past, there has been a white patch on the back of the shirt which made the numbers much clearer but for leisure wear – and it seems every Newcastle fan has a replica shirt – it is not so cool, and I respect that.”

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