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Opinion

The legend that still is…Tony Green

2 weeks ago
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Joe Harvey lamented “that when they made Tony Green, they threw away the mould” and our great boss then tearfully reflected…

“Tony Green was my finest ever signing and is totally irreplaceable”…upon the announcement of Tony’s retirement in December 1973.

The legend of Tony Green is still as formidable now as it was nearly fifty years ago for Toon fans of a certain vintage.

This is a short story of a little Scottish lad who on joining Newcastle United for the then princely sum of £150,000 from Blackpool in 1971, seemingly had the world at his feet.

Tony Green had everything that a midfield dynamo could possess – vision, speed, stamina, tenacity, skill and more than an abundance of natural talent.

Newcastle fans fell in love with Tony and the feeling was mutual. It still hurts many to remember that his career at Gallowgate was sadly restricted to just 33 League appearances (39 in all competitions) but boy what an impression he made in that short period in our history.

Tony’s finest hour was arguably at Old Trafford in 1972, when he gave Georgie Best the run-around (even dumping him on his backside with his fleet-footedness at one point) and was instrumental in a famous 2-0 away victory. Malcolm Macdonald was the main beneficiary of Tony Green’s artistry in 1971/72, scoring 30 goals as Newcastle recovered from a poor start to finish 11th in Division 1.

Joe Harvey’s “new” team had the excellence of Supermac, Terry Hibbitt, John Tudor and Jinky Smith….but Tony Green was the shining star in “Old Joe’s” halo.

It was on the 2nd of September 1972 that Tony Green’s and thousands more Geordie hearts would be cruelly broken forever. In a game with Crystal Palace, Tony crumpled after a challenge with Mel Blyth.

Tony GreenHe had ruptured his knee cartilage but no blame was ever attached to Mel.

Later in life, Tony went on record as saying that if the injury had of occurred in the modern era, he would have been operated on the next day and made a full recovery. As it happened, he was in a splint for six weeks and was afforded a general surgeon (club director Bob Rutherford) instead of an orthopedic surgeon.

Whenever Newcastle United fans pick an all-time greatest ever 11, the name of Tony Green still pops up time and time again, and quite rightly so.

An articulate and clever man, after his retirement from football Tony became a Maths teacher. He is now 74 years old and lives happily with his wife and pet dog Buster.

Perhaps the philosophical words of this little genius in black and white stripes, are ones that will forever bring tears to my eyes,

“Whatever, will be…at least I was privileged to have signed and played for a big club like Newcastle United.”

(*Tony Green was immortalised and inducted into the Newcastle United Hall of Fame in 2008)

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