My first game at St James' Park came back in 1983/84 as a boy of five or six and I have been to the vast majority of the home games since then. In that time we have watched some exciting and amazing players as well as many more complete donkeys!
Most of the time in the early years we (my dad, brother and pals) watched the game from the Leazes Family Enclosure - great memories of stone barriers to sit on and absolutely rank toilets. Being the age I was back then I can hardly remember a thing - my first memories come from 1988 and onwards.
I had some time to kill when travelling recently and I got thinking about what my Newcastle United dream team would be - not an all time dream team with Milburn and Supermac, but a team made up of players that I watched.
Here is that team and the reason, by player, that I included them. It is unlikely that anyone out there will agree with the selection from 1-11, there are some glaring omissions, but I stand by my selection!
GK. Seamus John James Given (1997 - 2009) (354 appearances)
Shay was (maybe even still is) a superb keeper - easily the best I have seen at the club if not the clubs best keeper ever. Some supporters lost faith in Shay after his move to City, but none can forget some of the amazing performances he put in in his time at Gallowgate. Top bloke too.
RB. Barry Venison (1992 - 1995) (105 appearances, 1 goal)
OK - I've cheated here. Bazza was a centre half at times up here as well as a stint in midfield, but he started out as a full back. I am even also willing to overlook the fact that he played for (and captained) the Village of the Damned. Venison always gave 100% and rarely let us down. As well as scoring what he describes as his greatest ever goal for us (his only one in black and white), he won his only 2 England caps under Terry Venables whilst playing for the club.
LB. Kenny Wharton (1978 - 1989) (290 appearances, 26 goals)
When Newcastle signed Mirandinha making him the first Brazilian to play in England a song was born:
"We've got Mirandinha
He's not from Argentina
He's from Brazil
He's f**ckin brill"
Quickly adapted in tribute to Kenny:
"We've got Kenny Wharton
He's not from Argentina
He's from Cowgate
He's f**king great!"
(Cowgate is a part of Newcastle for you non-locals!)
Kenny was a solid full back come left midfielder - we haven't had too many of them!
CB: Brian Kilcline (1992 - 1994) (34 appearances, 0 goals)
'Killer' only played 34 times for the club, but Kevin Keegan describes him as "the most important signing I ever made for the club". We were in dire straits when KK arrived. Killer was his first signing and installed as Captain. He looked like he came straight out of a Metallica video and he would fearlessly throw his head in front of anything.
CB: Jonathan Woodgate (2003 - 2004) (28 appearances, 0 goals)
Possibly a controversial choice given his short time at the club and the omission of Phillipe Albert, but Woodgate is the best centre half I have seen play for us. He was a class act and would have been an all time great but for his horrendous injury problems. The 2 central defenders that I have chosen made a total of 62 appearances for the club - if that does not tell you where we have been going wrong over the years then nothing will! He left to move to the worlds biggest club.
RM: Nolberto Albino Solano Todco (1998 - 2004, 2005 - 2007) (240 appearances, 45 goals)
Nobby was better than Beckham, only not quite as good looking. The tiny Peruvian was called a Maestro by Diego Maradona - high praise. His touch was beautiful (not a euphemism) and his passing was sublime. He also took a canny free kick too.
LM: David Karl Ginola (1995 - 1997) (58 appearances, 6 goals)
The best player I have seen play for Newcastle - and that is against some very tough opposition. In 95-96 he was almost unplayable. He drifted past players as if they were not there and it was a joy to watch - I will never forget watching him torch Middlesbrough full back Neil Cox. He turned Cox inside out and left him sitting on the turf shrugging his shoulders. He didn't score as many goals as our other French left winger, Laurent Robert, but for entertainment he was second to none.
CM: Paul John Gascoigne (1985 - 1988) (92 appearances, 21 goals)
A hero to me as a kid - I was devastated when he left. Gazza was magic - the things that he could do with a football were jaw dropping and it is a real shame that his best days followed his leaving of the club at an early age. Some things never change.
CM: Robert Martin Lee (1992 - 2002) (303 appearances, 44 goals)
A key player for a decade at the football club. Bobby Lee was brilliant - signed by Keegan and made Captain by Dalglish. Ditched by Gullit but quickly reinstated by Sir Bobby, he featured significantly in my football-watching life. One of the greatest signings the club ever made.
CF: Peter Andrew Beardsley (1983 - 1987, 1993 - 1997) (276 games, 108 goals)
Pedro was a magician. He is managing Newcastle Reserves at the moment and if he can teach the youngsters half of what he had, the future is in good hands. Another player whose sale gutted me as a kid - my dad never forgave him! He returned when many thought that he was passed it, and boy were they wrong. His second stint at the club was simply brilliant - the Beardsley shuffle was still in tact and he kept on scoring goals. Think about the levels of skill possessed by Beardsley and Gascoigne - both Geordies born and bred - we now need to unearth the next one!
CF: Alan God Almighty Shearer (1996 - 2006) (303 appearances, 148 goals)
I consider myself very lucky to have watched Alan Shearer's career at Newcastle United. Another Geordie, he went on to become our all time leading league and cup scorer and he scored some of the greatest goals you could ever see. He scored goals from all angles and of all types. He was feared throughout the Premier League and Europe. I don't think we will ever see his likes again.
So there we have it - that is my team.
I excluded (amongst others) players like Albert, Mick Quinn, Andy Cole (55 goals in 70 games - compare that to Shola's 46 in 229!) Mirandinha (a childhood hero, mainly because he was Brazilian. I still have my NUFC/ Brazil bobble hat).
There are probably even more glaring omissions - do let me know your thoughts.
I really enjoyed writing this - but it also left me a bit sad. Great memories that may not be repeated under this present regime.
But you never know.......
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