‘My favourite Newcastle United team’
I thought I would pick my Newcastle United team (plus sub).
Maybe not quite the best players I have seen play for Newcastle United but my own personal favourites.
When I first started supporting the Toon, our future manager Iam McFaul was our goalkeeper and I thought he was great.
However, the keeper who I have always adored the most was Pavel Srnicek, who Bald Eagle Jim Smith paid canny money for to secure his services from Banik Ostrava in the early 1990s.
It took Pav time to settle and and when he did finally break through as our number one, he had the misfortune of playing in front of Ossie Ardiles’ struggling fledgling defence.
It was the arrival of Kevin Keegan that inspired Pavel and our other canny keeper, Big Tommy Wright.
I used to love it when Pav would receive a back pass and take an extra touch to deceive an onrushing forward. He was actually very good with the ball at his feet and never got caught out once (unlike some haha).
He was one of the ‘Entertainers’ that so nearly won the Premier League and so the late, great Pavel Srnicek would undoubtedly be in goal in my ‘favourites’ eleven.
My right-back would be the erstwhile David Craig. David was a fine servant for Newcastle and very accomplished in his natural position. A fine reader of the game, he was a Fairs Cup Winner back in 1969, but had the heartbreak of missing our 1974 FA Cup Final through injury.
As injuries took their toll on David Craig, another very good player and local lad came up through the ranks in Irving Nattrass, he was also in my thoughts. Barry Venison also deserves a mention for the sterling job he did in our black and white stripes.
At left-back I’m going to go for John Beresford. If medals were handed out for enthusiasm, John would have been a Champions League winner multiple times over. An integral part of Kevin Keegan’s promotion team, John went on to become somewhat of a Champions League hero and good luck charm for Newcastle in the later nineties.
He definitely made an impression on me because he pipped both Frankie Clark and his protege, Alan Kennedy.
My central defensive partnership would be two players that played exactly a decade apart.
Jeff Clarke was signed on a free transfer from the mackems in the summer of 1982, went completely under the radar with all the razzmatazz surrounding our capture of Kevin Keegan.
Apart from King Kev’s goal on both of their debuts against QPR, it was Big Jeff who was doing the showboating (there is a great clip of him on Youtube keeping the ball up on his head three or four times and running twenty yards). Jeff Clarke was fantastic for Newcastle, especially in our promotion campaign of 1983/84.
Philippe Albert was signed after starring in the 1994 World Cup for Belgium.
He had swagger and poise and soon became a hero to the fans, earning his own catchy ditty to the tune of the Rupert the Bear theme sung by Jackie Lee.
His chip over Peter Schmeichel to round off a 5-0 drubbing of Fergie’s Man Utd, along with beaming smile celebration, has since gone down into Newcastle United folklore.
Another one of the ‘Entertainers’, Philippe still loves Tyneside and is mates with a few of our boys in North Shields.
Other centre halves that I have liked and admired over the years include Glenn Roeder and Brian Kilcline (two great captains), Darren Peacock and Nikos Dabizas.
Due to my love of Terry McDermott and admiration for Jinky Smith, little trumpet playing and footballing maestro Nobby Solano wasn’t an easy pick on the right side of midfield. If Kenny Dalglish did only a couple of good things during his disastrous near 20 months in charge at St James Park, it was signing Nobby and Gary Speed.
As it happens, Gary’s not in my team, and on the left of midfield I’m going to go for Terry Hibbitt, as he would be the best bloke to provide the bullets for my centre-forward.
My other personal favourites who ran Hibby close were Chrissy Waddle and Scott Sellars.
My two central midfield players are Liam O’Brien and Rob Lee.
Languid Liam had a penchant for scoring some quite spectacular goals(often in derbies), and also has a famous terrace song in his honour. He was pivotal in the transformation from Newcastle United nearly dropping into the old Third Division, then reaching the Premier League 12 months later.
Rob Lee famously turned Premier League Middlesbrough down to join Kevin Keegan’s Tyneside revolution in 1992. It was a wise move and within a couple of seasons he was playing for England.
He scored our first ever hat-trick in Europe away at Royal Antwerp in 1994, all headers (I particularly like Rob because he gave us support during our Mike Ashley Out Campaign).
Other players who I have enjoyed in the central midfield births have been the likes of Tommy Cassidy, Cheick Tiote and Yohan Cabaye. Tony Green is also a true legend whose Newcastle career was tragically cut short by injury.
My centre-forward is the one and only Malcolm Macdonald. Supermac was my first ever Newcastle United hero and I used to play out with my mates in the early 1970s, proudly wearing my Newcastle shirt with the red number 9 that ‘me Ma’ had ironed on the back.
My younger brother was born on the same day (21st August 1971) that he scored a hat-trick on his home debut against Liverpool. Macdonald was lightning quick, very strong and had bags of confidence.
I remember gleefully watching a grinning Mike Neville presenting Look North on the BBC, after Supermac had stuck it up Don Revie at Wembley by scoring a record (all) five goals for England against Cyprus in 1975.
Some of his goals for Newcastle were truly amazing and he is now settled in North Shields, where he is also the President of the football club.
His partner up front would be the man who saved Newcastle United from falling into probable oblivion in our centenary year, with his late winner against Portsmouth in 1992. It simply has to be the most important goal ever scored in the history of the Gallowgate.
David ‘Ned’ Kelly scored a goal every other league game in his 18 month spell at Newcastle (35 goals in 70 games to be exact) and went out on a hat-trick against Leicester City at our promotion party in 1993 (Alan Hull and Lindisfarne also played at the Leazes End on that happy day).
My substitute(and going back to only having one like it used to be and usually a striker) is also my player/manager.
I have fond early memories of Joe Harvey and Sir Bobby Robson did a very good job after taking over an average and struggling Newcastle team, but the greatest man that has ever been associated with Newcastle United in my lifetime is Kevin Keegan, and he came not once, not twice but three times to save us when we were down in the doldrums and nearly out.
Kevin Keegan scored 48 league goals in 78 games for Newcastle and my favourites were the four he bagged against his former teammate Emlyn Hughes’ Rotherham at Millmoor in 1982.
King Kev would have been the perfect foil for Supermac, coming off the bench for Newcastle to steal the day (In the striking department – John Tudor, Peter Withe, Imre Varadi, Paul Goddard, Micky Quinn, Gavin Peacock, Les Ferdinand, Faustino Asprilla, Andy Carroll (first time around) and Papiss Cisse also have my unreserved gratitude. Shola Ameobi deserves a mention too, for his goalscoring heroics in Tyne/Wear derbies (he scored seven league goals against Sunderland including two braces).
So my ‘favourites’ eleven in a good old fashioned 4-4-2 Newcastle United team formation is –
Kevin Keegan – player/manager
There are obvious candidates that will be favourites of some of you that I have left out, which includes a couple of Geordies in Peter Beardsley and Alan Shearer, who are two of our greatest and most well known players in the last 50 years (what I am basically covering here).
The littler fella out of the two was one of the finest players that I have ever saw but if you don’t love someone anymore after such a lot of years, then it is hard to make a case for them still being one of your own favourites.
That goes for Andy (oops sorry Andrew) Cole too, who I loved when he first came to the Toon before he later spoilt himself.
There are bound to be loads of others’ favourites that I have left out.
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