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Opinion

Gavin Peacock – A man on a mission

3 weeks ago
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Although born in Eltham, London, Gavin Peacock had a strong affinity and affection for Newcastle United from a young age.

He grew up supporting Charlton Athletic where his father Keith was a club legend, however, Gavin’s paternal Grandfather was from South Tyneside and a massive Newcastle fan.

He would regale countless stories of his beloved black and whites to his impressionable grandson when the Peacock family visited the North East for family holidays, and the youngster used to kick a ball around with his mates in the 1970s when he went home with his latest strip off his Granda.

It seemed like a rites of passage had been achieved in the fall of 1990 when the wise old “Bald Eagle” Jim Smith paid Bournemouth decent money to bring the talented Gavin “home” as such. Smith had an eye for a player and made some outstanding signings in his three years at the Toon, most notably Micky Quinn, Pavel Srnicek and Mark McGhee. Gavin Peacock though turned out to be arguably his best of the lot.

After Jim Smith’s departure, Gavin was a player that new boss Ossie Ardiles came to rely on more frequently in what turned out to be to be Newcastle’s toughest and most exhausting season ever.

A naturally energetic and attacking midfielder, Gavin could also play off the main striker up front….and he knew where the back of the net was. This didn’t prevent Newcastle from falling into the second division relegation zone though and Ossie was replaced by Kevin Keegan.

KK must have seen the similarities between Gavin Peacock and himself as a player. Hard working, a team man, great attitude and goals.

Gavin stuck up a partnership with David Kelly in that arduous 1991/92 season and they plundered most of the goals that ultimately saved Newcastle United’s skin. One of Peacock’s goals against Swindon Town when he controlled the ball with his chest, dropped it onto his knee and then volleyed it home from 18 yards, is one of the finest goals I have ever witnessed at St James Park.

Gavin Peacock was to be the hero in our last game of the season at Filbert Street, scoring to put us ahead on the stroke of half-time…..then after Steve Walsh had equalised for the home side in the last minute, Gavin chased the ball down from the restart, forcing Walsh to put through his own goal for a dramatic last-gasp Toon winner.

In the summer of 1992, Middlesbrough – who would be starting the forthcoming campaign in the inaugural Premier League, came asking about the availability of Newcastle’s versatile talisman. At one point it actually looked like Gavin would be on his way to Teesside, but once Kevin Keegan and Terry McDermott finally committed themselves to Newcastle, Gavin Peacock signed a new contract at the Magpies.

As we who were lucky enough to witness it know, the 1992/93 season was the culmination of all our finest dreams. Three months after turning them down, Gavin was also in the victorious team at Ayresome Park that dumped Boro out of the League Cup.

There were outstanding contributions all round as Newcastle dominated the first Division and claimed the Championship, but nobody deserved a bigger pat on the back than Gavin Peacock, for all he had done stretching back a few seasons.

In the summer of 1993 the Peacock family had a bit of family turmoil to contend with and when ambitious Chelsea with Glenn Hoddle at the helm came in for him, Gavin decided the time was right for him to return to London.

A friendly lad with a big heart, Gavin Peacock also has a lot of faith. A Christian, he has studied theology and is now a pastor living in Calgary, Canada. He has even presented Stars on Sunday for the BBC…. Tino Asprilla eat your heart out eh?

(*Gavin’s Dad Keith was the first man to ever come on as a substitute in an English league game, for Charlton Athletic in 1965.)

(** Quite recently I was sent by a friend, a recording of a very touching tribute by Gavin Peacock to his Grandfather. Gavin was holding his No.8 shirt up from that unforgettable day at Filbert Street 29 years ago. He had gave it to his Granda after the game, for all the strips his Granda had given him as a boy. I had tears in my eyes lads…)

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