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Opinion

Hallelujah – John Tudor

3 weeks ago
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This week it was disclosed that Mike Ashley’s friend and former Newcastle United Manager and Director of Football, Joe Kinnear, had been diagnosed as having vascular dementia.

Which led me to think of somebody else who is suffering from this terrible illness.

Former Toon hero John Tudor, who has been battling this condition for many years.

In his day, John Tudor was an excellent header of the ball, and started out playing non-league football for Ilkeston Town.

Then “Mr Coventry City” Jimmy Hill saw John’s potential and took him to Highfield Road in the 1960s.

Although John didn’t do badly with Coventry, it was when he moved to Sheffield United that he really began to carve a name out for himself.

John Tudor was a wily and clever inside forward and knew where the net was. He had soon helped Sheffield United to promotion and in January 1971, Joe Harvey made him another one of his inspired signings.

This was quite an exciting time at Newcastle and John, Terry Hibbitt, Jinky Smith and the legendary Tony Green all signed around about this period. The man who was to become John Tudor’s partner in crime at Gallowgate, was to arrive just over six months after our new No.10.

Malcolm MacDonald literally rolled into Town in a gold “Roller”, to sign for Newcastle United from Luton Town for a club record £185,000 fee. The polar opposite to Tudor, Supermac was confident and brash…and in the following few seasons the two of them became the perfect foil for one another.

John gave a wonderful return of 24 goals in 1972/73 (18 in the First Division) as Newcastle went on to lift the Anglo-Italian Cup.

But it was the 1973/74 season that cemented the Tudor and Macdonald partnership and legacy, when Newcastle reached the FA Cup final against Liverpool at Wembley, after one of the most exciting and tumultuous cup runs.

John Tudor scored 74 goals for Newcastle United overall but was never truly appreciated by Joe Harvey’s successor, Gordon Lee, moving to Stoke City in 1976.

He then followed the path of two of his former Newcastle teammates, Paul Cannell and Rocky Hudson, making a move to the United States to finish his playing career.

Indeed, John Tudor became a bit of a footballing pioneer across the pond, introducing new coaching techniques and incentives, also becoming the first football director in his adopted home of Minnesota.

John and his family still live there, where he is revered by the local population for all of his efforts in establishing what was previously called “soccer”…

The last time John and his wife Anne visited Newcastle Upon Tyne and St James Park was in 2019.

Although he has been very ill for many years, Newcastle United are still John Tudor’s team. His son said that his Dad had fell in love with the Toon in healthier times and that the whole family were left astounded by the love and warm affection they received during this visit.

In his honour, John also has one of the greatest Newcastle football songs and chants on the terraces of all time.

Handel’s “Hallelujah…John Tudor, John Tudor”

(*The last time I saw John play was at Len White’s belated testimonial at Hillheads, Whitley Bay in 1986.)

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