Posts Tagged ‘Newcastle’

April 9th 1988 – Shearer Nets Hat-Trick v Arsenal in First Start

by Richard D J J Bowdery.

A seventeen year-old Alan Shearer made his first start as a professional footballer for Southampton versus Arsenal at The Dell on April 9th 1988. It was to be a day to remember as he scored a hat-trick in a 4-2 victory for The Saints.

But for an oversight on the part of Newcastle United the young Shearer’s shirt may have had black stripes instead of red ones that afternoon.

He could also have avoided a round trip of over 580 miles that took in the south coast of England and East Lancashire.

On Trial

ShearerSouthamptonAs a 15 year-old schoolboy Shearer was given a trial by the St. James Park club and was asked to play in goal. Unsurprisingly, for someone with an eye for scoring rather than preventing goals, he failed to impress the coaches who were monitoring the game. As a mad Magpies fan it must have broken his heart to be turned away from the club he loved.

Shearer later recalled: “I came for a trial with a lot of other lads and there was a shortage or something, so everyone had to take a turn in goal. I was no different from anyone else, I had my 20 minutes just like everyone else, but I said to someone that I’d played in goal for Newcastle when I was on trial and I’ve never heard the last of it.”

To be fair to Newcastle United, they did rectify their mistake later in Alan Shearer’s career but it cost them a lot more than it might otherwise have done.

Despite this rejection the 15 year-old managed to get trials at other clubs including Southampton who signed him up on the spot.

His performance against Arsenal, who were to be crowned Champions at the end of the season, was an indication of what was to come. At 17 years and 240 days Shearer became the youngest scorer of a hat-trick  in top flight history, breaking a 30 year old record held by Jimmy Greaves.

Two weeks prior to his heroics against Arsenal Shearer came on as a sub against Chelsea to make his professional debut at Stamford Bridge in a 1-0 victory.

During his time at the Dell he scored over 40 goals in 158 appearances. Other clubs were beginning to take notice of this young talent and it wasn’t long before a queue of admirers started to form, all eager for his signature.

England Come Calling

Included among these admirers was the late Dave Sexton, then England under-21 coach. In 1990 he brought Shearer into the squad. Shearer repaid Sexton’s faith in him by scoring 13 times in 11 appearances. This goals-to-appearances ratio brought him to the attention of another influential figure: the England manager, Graham Taylor.

Taylor gave him his senior debut against France, in February 1992. Shearer opened the scoring and Gary Lineker added a second as England ran out 2-0 winners.

Shearer’s performance on the international stage caused his stock to rise significantly on the domestic front which caused a lot of additional work for Ian Branfoot, his manager at Southampton.

With the increasing interest in his striker, Branfoot seemed to spend as much time on the telephone fielding calls from other managers looking to sign his Shearer as he did on the training field coaching his squad.

The SAS

Blackburn Rovers' Alan Shearer celebrates with the Carling Premiership trophy

Eventually the inevitable happened and he was prised away from The Dell by Blackburn Rovers who parted with over £3 million in July 1992: helped in no small part by the financing of Blackburn’s benefactor, Jack Walker.

It was at Blackburn that Shearer was to win his only significant piece of domestic silverware: the Premiership trophy.

In that League winning 94/95 season he formed a deadly partnership with Chris Sutton – known as the SAS. Shearer’s 34 goals alongside Sutton’s 15, ensured Walker’s bankrolled Rovers top spot.

His last game for Blackburn came against Wimbledon in April 1996. He signed off with another brace of goals to go alongside 19 other braces and 9 hat-tricks.

In total he scored 130 goals in 171 appearances during his four seasons at the Lancashire club.

But now another team were keen to employ his prolific services and there was the small matter of a European championship with England, in England.

Euro ’96 & The Toon

The Euro 96 tournament was to be the highlight in Shearers international career. He finished the tournament as top-scorer with 5 goals. Unfortunately those goals weren’t enough to take England all the way to the Final.

Once again Germany stood in the way; although if Gascoigne’s legs had been an inch longer, England would have won on the golden-goal rule and avoided the penalty shoot-out. They weren’t and the host nation lost 6-5 on penalties; more than a shade of Italia ‘90.

By the end of his international career Shearer had played 63 times for England and scored 30 goals (almost one every two games).

Football didn’t truly come home in ‘96 but later that summer Shearer did, and so began his love affair with the Toon Army.

With 5 goals at Euro '96 Shearer was top scorer

But if Kevin Keegan, Shearer’s boyhood hero, hadn’t been the gaffer at Newcastle, Shearer could have become a Red Devil.

Manchester United and Newcastle United had agreed a sale price with Blackburn Rovers. Extended talks between Shearer and Alex Ferguson led everyone to believe that Old Trafford was his club of choice and yet…

Legend has it that Keegan asked for and got one final opportunity to talk with Shearer. Whatever was said Shearer put pen to paper, with Keegan looking like the cat that got the cream.

Shearer was reported to have said, on signing for the Magpies in July 1996: “It was the challenge of returning home and wearing the famous black and white shirt which made up my mind.”

The fans who turned out to greet the club’s new signing confirmed that decision. On seeing the 20,000 Newcastle fans who witnessed his official unveiling as a United player he said: “I wouldn’t have got a reception like this anywhere else in the world.”

Newcastle had shelled out a whopping £15 million – a world transfer record to capture a proven goal machine.

In more than 400 appearances Shearer netted over 200 times: more than justifying his price tag.

Of course eleven years earlier he would have cost significantly less; but then hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Injury Brings the Curtain Down

In Shearer’s last season at United he broke Jackie Milburn’s record of 200 goals in a black and white shirt. The record had stood for 49 years and cemented Shearer’s place among the pantheon of Newcastle greats.

At the same time Shearer had a dual role as player/coach. It was a role he had hoped to continue in for at least another season, but a tear to the medial collateral ligament in his left knee, during the League game against Sunderland in April 2006, put paid to that aspiration and effectively ended his playing career.

Although he was never to pull on that famous number 9 shirt in anger ever again, he still went out on a high that afternoon, scoring and seeing his side beat their historical enemy 4-1.

shearerNUFCBy the time he retired from football Alan Shearer had netted 379 goals in 733 appearances on the field of battle. Of those, 260 goals came in 434 Premier League appearances: still a PL record.

Post-Playing Career

Apart from a stint as Newcastle boss towards the end of the 2008/09 season, Shearer didn’t transfer his footballing prowess to the dugout.

Instead he developed a media career as a football pundit. Today he is a regular on Match of the Day, giving viewers the benefit of his experience, gained in over 18 years as a professional footballer.

Although the Toon Army are still able to watch their hero on television, the one image that will lodge long in their memory is of Shearer wheeling away, arm aloft, as he celebrates yet another successful strike on goal.

To relive that incredible debut by the Premier League’s deadliest finisher way back in 1988 click on the photo above.

@RichardBowdery

Hereford Trump Bradford as the Greatest Cup Upset Ever
43 years since Radford’s Rocket

by Richard DJJ Bowdery.

Following Chelsea’s humbling at the hands of Bradford City last month, many on social media called it the biggest FA Cup shock ever.

But for my money – and without taking anything away from Bradford’s magnificent result – two other clubs have a better claim to that honour: Sutton United and Hereford United. Unlike Bradford who are a League One side, the third tier of English football, when the two United’s made the headlines, it was as Non-League clubs.

SuttonUtd

Sutton’s players celebrate a goal against top tier Coventry in 1989

In 1989 Conference side Sutton beat First Division Coventry City 2-1 in the third round. This coming only two years after Coventry had lifted the FA Cup following their dramatic 3-2 victory over Tottenham Hotspur. Now on a cold January afternoon in south-west London, they were made to eat humble pie by their lowly opponents.

Yet I believe a greater feat was achieved when Hereford beat Newcastle United in a third round replay.

The first game was drawn two apiece at St. James Park. The replay at Hereford’s Edgar Street stadium was postponed several times with the game finally going ahead on 5 February 1972, before a crowd of over 14,000.

Newcastle took the lead when Malcolm McDonald rose to head the Geordie side ahead with only 8 minutes left on the referee’s watch. It seemed Hereford’s valiant effort would come to naught; that was until Ronnie’s rocket.

Newcastle goalkeeper Willie McFaul's high dive cannot stop Ronnie Radford's stunning shot

Newcastle keeper Willie McFaul’s desperate dive is no match for Ronnie Radford’s stunning shot.

With three minutes remaining, Ronnie Radford played a one-two thirty yards from goal before launching a thunderbolt that left Newcastle’s keeper grasping at thin air. The underdogs had drawn level.

In the first period of extra-time substitute Ricky George, who had come on towards the end of normal time, picked up the ball deep into Newcastle’s half. With only one thing on his mind he took aim and fired Hereford into round four. Cue wild celebrations on the pitch.

In the fourth round they met West Ham United and again the game went to a replay. This time there was no fairy tale ending. West Ham won 3-1 with Geoff Hurst scoring a hat-trick. I guess if you’re going to lose when further glory beckons, then losing at the hands of a World Cup hero might soften the blow a little.

My reason for choosing Hereford’s exploits over Sutton’s is simple: their respective positions on the football pyramid. At the time of their heroics Hereford were plying their trade in the Southern League, the 7th tier of English football. Whereas, when Sutton beat Coventry they were playing in the Conference which is two leagues higher.

Before Hereford, the last time a non-league team knocked out a top-flight club was in 1949 when Yeovil beat Sunderland. And the next after Sutton United? Conference side Luton Town who, in 2013, knocked out Premier League side Norwich City in the fourth round, with the game’s only goal.

Yet despite the big money slushing around at the top of the pyramid, who’s to say another Non-League sides won’t humble a club from English footballs elite? As Jimmy Greaves used to say: “It’s a funny old game…”

@RichardBowdery

The Lion Who Saved The Ryder Cup How Former Millwall Man Kept Fledgling Competition Alive

by Neil Fissler.

IF it wasn’t for the efforts of a former Millwall footballer, this week’s Ryder Cup probably wouldn’t be taking place.

Charles Burgess – known as “Chay” – has been largely forgotten in the history of golf’s most prestigious team competition.

But without the vision and drive of this Scotsman to keep the fledgling competition alive, the Ryder Cup could have died a long time ago.

Burgess – born in 1873 – joined Southern League Millwall Athletic in 1898, arriving in London’s East Ferry Road after spells at home-town Montrose, Sunderland and Dundee.

Chay Burgess

Chay Burgess

He was to make 62 appearances for The Lions before going on to Newcastle United and Portsmouth where he won a Southern League winners’ medal in 1902.

But it was a full 18 years after emigrating to the United States in 1910 that destiny called him to play a pivotal role arose in the survival of golf’s greatest competition – to be contested for the 40th time when the continents of Europe and the US meet on Friday at Gleneagles.

In 1927, the first Ryder Cup was played at Worcester, Massachussetts with the USA thrashing Great Britain 9.5 to 2.5. It was felt that a contest in 1928 would be too costly and impractical so it was decided that the event would be played every two years. But in 1929, the US PGA once again didn’t have the funds to send a team by liner across the Atlantic to England to defend the trophy.

Burgess, however, was determined to keep the cross-Atlantic competition alive so he arranged an impressive fund-raising tournament involving some of the greatest names in the history of American golf.

Walter Hagen, who was to play a pivotal role in the early history of the Ryder Cup, captaining the USA in the first six competitions, partnered Gene Sarazen. Hagen and Sarazen, the first man to win all the major titles, played against US Open Champion Johnny Farrell and Bobby Jones, who co-founded the Masters Championship. The tournament proved to be a major success – raising the $10,000 needed to send the US team, which included Farrell and Sarazen to the Moortown Golf Club in Leeds and save the Ryder Cup.

Burgess’s role has largely been overlooked – but he was also one of the leading golf coaches in the world for many years and a true pioneer of the game when it was a fledgling sport in the USA.

Burgess – who was professional at Woodland Golf Club in Massachussetts – would teach stars like crooner Bing Crosby and entertainer Al Jolson and baseball legend Babe Ruth to play the game.

His first major success was as tutor to Francis Ouimet, America’s first golfing hero and the first amateur to win the US Open in 1913. “Whatever progress I have made in golf I owe directly to Charlie Burgess” Ouimet admitted.

Burgess lived in Massachusetts until his death in 1960, at the age of 86, leaving his role in the Ryder Cup as his proud – if not wholly recognised – legacy.

This article originally appeared on The.Express.co.uk

 

Sir Bobby Robson: Brave Player, Great Coach… But Most of All a True Gent

sirbobbyrobsonBookCoverToday is Bobby Robson day.

It is five years since Sir Robert died.

The FA has established an annual tribute day to remember the great man and also support the Bobby Robson cancer trust.

Read below the fine tribute his official biographer Paul Hayward wrote in 2009. And for the whole story we recommend you buy the book (ISBN 978034 082 23477).

Sir Bobby Robson: Brave Player, Great Coach… But Most of All a True Gent.

by Paul Hayward, Sir Bobby Robson’s Official Biographer

One word captures the people’s view of Sir Bobby Robson. He was easily and universally recognised as a gentleman, which was no small feat in a sport with an increasingly wonky moral compass.

The two elder statesmen of our national game have been the two Sir Bobbys: Charlton for his achievements on the field and his ambassadorial aura, and Robson for his endless love of coaching and being around players.

SirBobby&Elsie

Sir Bobby Robson and his wife Elsie.

Robson’s nirvana was a 7am alarm call and a cup of tea with his beloved wife Elsie followed by a long and intense session on the training pitch. The medical records are unavailable, but many suspect he was born in a tracksuit.

He could be profound, fierce, angry, sad, insightful and entertaining in a single answer. Often he would illustrate his point by turning the kitchen into a training pitch.

With a fine comic sense and an actor’s gift for delivery, Bobby would set off on a tale about how, on foreign trips, he would write the name of the Ipswich team hotel on the shirt cuffs of chairman John Cobbold, who was partial to a wander and a drink.

Then he would recall how the great Corinthian of the boardroom would tell him after a defeat: ‘Bobby, today it wasn’t our turn, but we’ve given the other team the pleasure of winning. That’s something.’

Robson would chuckle at that. The idea of losing charitably was anathema to him, because behind the avuncular exterior he was demonic in pursuit of success. Yet he also understood the value of civility and honour in an industry of careerists and carve-ups.

One morning I arrived at his London home to find him frantically calling a local radio station and failing to get through. He said he had been ringing for almost an hour but had succeeded only in listening to countless bars of Mozart.

‘Why?’ was the obvious question. It turned out that a stranger on a bike had stopped him in the street the day before and told him that if he (Sir Bobby) called the radio station and vouched for the celebrity sighting, a sum of money would go to charity while the cyclist would be eligible for a £1,000 prize draw.

On the back of this chance collision with a stranger, Robson was quite willing to spend the whole morning trying to report the meeting so the charity would get its money and the young man would have a chance of scooping the pot.

bobby_robson_fulham_1953

Bobby Robson playing for Fulham in 1953.

Walking 100 yards with him would take an hour, because builders would come down from scaffolding and taxi drivers would halt to salute him. Sure, they admired his achievements on the football field, but the deeper attraction was his decency, his consideration for others.

He had an ego like the rest of them. No manager could survive almost 40 years in the dugout without one. There was a hardness about him, too: a product, perhaps, of his early years below ground in the Durham coalfields.

He could be severe with players or journalists who crossed him. He also had a keen sense of his own market value. An initial offer of £400,000 a year in 1999 to manage Newcastle was rejected on the grounds that Alan Shearer was then earning around £3million. As the negotiations opened, Robson would not allow his love for the club to override his professional pride.

Acquisitive though he was, he would never trample on others to reach the top, or forget that manners are one of the simplest and most lasting measures of a man. In one sense, his was a career of nearmisses.

As a player he spent most of his 17 years among the rakes and rogues of Fulham: a fun-loving club where an injured player would be turfed off the treatment table to accommodate a team-mate’s greyhound who needed urgent physio for a race at the weekend.

BobbyRobsonEng

Robson guided England to the semi-finals of the World Cup

With England, Robson was injured before the 1962 World Cup, which opened the door to a certain Bobby Moore, and looked back with anguish at his narrow failure to make the victorious 1966 squad. His 20 caps were no consolation as Moore lifted the trophy.

Robson said: ‘I confess I gritted my teeth and shook my head. I was in the top division with Fulham. I felt I could handle anyone. I could have played that day in 1966.’

As England manager he survived eight years and was denied a World Cup final appearance by a penalty shootout in the semi-finals of Italia 90.

In 1986 in Mexico, he preferred to ascribe Diego Maradona’s infamous goal to the ‘hand of a rascal’. But after tolerating vicious personal abuse with characteristic grace, he left the England job as the country’s most successful manager since Sir Alf Ramsey, by virtue of that World Cup semi-final.

The pattern was repeated in large parts of his managerial career. At Ipswich, where he worked miracles in a sleepy Suffolk town, he won the UEFA and FA Cups but missed out several times on the English league championship.

At Portman Road, he was the unofficial lord of Suffolk, running the club from top to bottom while the Cobbolds sipped their gins and tonic and upheld sporting values from a vanished age.

He won league titles in Holland and Portugal, but finished second with Barcelona in his only year at the Nou Camp (1996-97).  Typically, though, he assembled a Barca side who scored 137 times and won two cups. Another of Robson’s enduring legacies is his devotion to adventurous, attacking football.

Robson lifts the UEFA Cup

Robson lifts the UEFA Cup

For him, football had a duty to excite. His teams expressed his character: energetic, fun, indefatigable. He was too proud to admit it publicly, but his time at Newcastle United scarred him to his bones.

When chairman Freddy Shepherd sacked him four games into the 2004-05 season, it’s no exaggeration to say Robson entered a period of bereavement. Many of us wondered whether he would ever recover from being first undermined and then fired by the club he had queued to watch as a small boy with his father immediately after the war.

‘I’ve been sacked for finishing fifth,’ he would complain. ‘Fifth! In my last three seasons there we finished fourth, third and fifth!’
He left it to others to point out that Newcastle then came home in 14th place in Graeme Souness’s first season in charge.

Robson’s five years on Tyneside cast an unflattering light on the modern footballer and he was frequently bemused by the antics of Kieron Dyer and Craig Bellamy, who got into a fist fight with Sir Bobby’s No 2 in a departure lounge on the way to a European game. He was baffled by the superstar lifestyle, the egocentricity of some modern players.

Robson, after all, had travelled home by train and bus after playing for England in front of 80,000 spectators at Wembley. He vividly remembered having to take his shoes off to ease his blisters as he limped the final few yards from the bus stop after scoring for England against Scotland in 1961.

It was not that he romanticised the era of dubbin and modest wages. More that he always thought the game was more precious than any material gain it might bring. Though the Newcastle experience broke his heart, retirement was unthinkable. It would have separated him from who and what he was.

And yes, he did occasionally struggle with names, however much he objected privately to people thinking he muddled them up. Once or twice he called me Peter. But I didn’t mind. He could have called me anything. To me he represented most of what is great about football. More importantly, he was an inspiration as a man.

 

Sir Bobby Robson, 1933 - 2009.

Sir Bobby Robson, 1933 – 2009.

Shearer: A Geordie Legend…
…at the second time of asking

 

shearer-new

Shearer broke into the Southampton first team aged just 17

by Richard D J J Bowdery

On 26 March 1988, seventeen year-old Alan Shearer made his professional footballing debut for Southampton at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea.

He was on the winning side as the game finished 1-0 to the Saints; a result which contributed to Chelsea‘s relegation to Division Two at the end of that season.

But for an oversight on the part of Newcastle United the young Shearer’s shirt may have had black stripes instead of red ones that afternoon.

He could also have avoided a round trip of over 580 miles that took in the south coast of England and East Lancashire.

On Trial

As a 15 year-old schoolboy Shearer was given a trial by the St. James Park club and was asked to play in goal. Unsurprisingly, for someone with an eye for scoring rather than preventing goals, he failed to impress the coaches who were monitoring the game. As a mad Magpies fan it must have broken his heart to be turned away from the club he loved.

Shearer later recalled: “I came for a trial with a lot of other lads and there was a shortage or something, so everyone had to take a turn in goal. I was no different from anyone else, I had my 20 minutes just like everyone else, but I said to someone that I’d played in goal for Newcastle when I was on trial and I’ve never heard the last of it.”

To be fair to Newcastle United, they did rectify their mistake later in Alan Shearer’s career but it cost them a lot more than it might otherwise have done.

Despite this rejection the 15 year-old managed to get trials at other clubs including Southampton who signed him up on the spot.

Two weeks after coming on as a sub against Chelsea Shearer made his full debut at The Dell versus Arsenal – and scored a hat-trick in a 4-2 victory. At 17 years and 240 days Shearer became the youngest scorer of a hat-trick  in top flight history, breaking a 30 year old record held by Jimmy Greaves.

During his time at the Dell he scored over 40 goals in 158 appearances. Other clubs were beginning to take notice of this young talent and it wasn’t long before a queue of admirers started to form, all eager for his signature.

England Come Calling

Included among these admirers was the late Dave Sexton, then England under-21 coach. In 1990 he brought Shearer into the squad. Shearer repaid Sexton’s faith in him by scoring 13 times in 11 appearances. This goals-to-appearances ratio brought him to the attention of another influential figure: the England manager, Graham Taylor.

Taylor gave him his senior debut against France, in February 1992. Shearer opened the scoring and Gary Lineker added a second as England ran out 2-0 winners.

Shearer’s performance on the international stage caused his stock to rise significantly on the domestic front which caused a lot of additional work for Ian Branfoot, his manager at Southampton.

With the increasing interest in his striker, Branfoot seemed to spend as much time on the telephone fielding calls from other managers looking to sign his Shearer as he did on the training field coaching his squad.

The SAS

Blackburn Rovers' Alan Shearer celebrates with the Carling Premiership trophy

Shearer found success at Ewood Park

Eventually the inevitable happened and he was prised away from The Dell by Blackburn Rovers who parted with over £3 million in July 1992: helped in no small part by the financing of Blackburn’s benefactor, Jack Walker.

It was at Blackburn that Shearer was to win his only significant piece of domestic silverware: the Premiership trophy.

In that League winning 94/95 season he formed a deadly partnership with Chris Sutton – known as the SAS. Shearer’s 34 goals alongside Sutton’s 15, ensured Walker’s bankrolled Rovers top spot.

His last game for Blackburn came against Wimbledon in April 1996. He signed off with another brace of goals to go alongside 19 other braces and 9 hat-tricks.

In total he scored 130 goals in 171 appearances during his four seasons at the Lancashire club.

But now another team were keen to employ his prolific services and there was the small matter of a European championship with England, in England.

Euro ’96 & The Toon

The Euro 96 tournament was to be the highlight in Shearers international career. He finished the tournament as top-scorer with 5 goals. Unfortunately those goals weren’t enough to take England all the way to the Final.

Once again Germany stood in the way; although if Gascoigne’s legs had been an inch longer, England would have won on the golden-goal rule and avoided the penalty shoot-out. They weren’t and the host nation lost 6-5 on penalties; more than a shade of Italia ‘90.

By the end of his international career Shearer had played 63 times for England and scored 30 goals (almost one every two games).

Football didn’t truly come home in ‘96 but later that summer Shearer did, and so began his love affair with the Toon Army.

With 5 goals at Euro '96 Shearer was top scorer

With 5 goals at Euro ’96 Shearer was top scorer

But if Kevin Keegan, Shearer’s boyhood hero, hadn’t been the gaffer at Newcastle, Shearer could have become a Red Devil.

Manchester United and Newcastle United had agreed a sale price with Blackburn Rovers. Extended talks between Shearer and Alex Ferguson led everyone to believe that Old Trafford was his club of choice and yet…

Legend has it that Keegan asked for and got one final opportunity to talk with Shearer. Whatever was said Shearer put pen to paper, with Keegan looking like the cat that got the cream.

Shearer was reported to have said, on signing for the Magpies in July 1996: “It was the challenge of returning home and wearing the famous black and white shirt which made up my mind.”

The fans who turned out to greet the club’s new signing confirmed that decision. On seeing the 20,000 Newcastle fans who witnessed his official unveiling as a United player he said: “I wouldn’t have got a reception like this anywhere else in the world.”

Newcastle had shelled out a whopping £15 million – a world transfer record to capture a proven goal machine.

In more than 400 appearances Shearer netted over 200 times: more than justifying his price tag.

Of course eleven years earlier he would have cost significantly less; but then hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Injury Brings the Curtain Down

In Shearer’s last season at United he broke Jackie Milburn’s record of 200 goals in a black and white shirt. The record had stood for 49 years and cemented Shearer’s place among the pantheon of Newcastle greats.

At the same time Shearer had a dual role as player/coach. It was a role he had hoped to continue in for at least another season, but a tear to the medial collateral ligament in his left knee, during the League game against Sunderland in April 2006, put paid to that aspiration and effectively ended his playing career.

Although he was never to pull on that famous number 9 shirt in anger ever again, he still went out on a high that afternoon, scoring and seeing his side beat their historical enemy 4-1.

shearerNUFCBy the time he retired from football Alan Shearer had netted 379 goals in 733 appearances on the field of battle. Of those, 260 goals came in 434 Premier League appearances: still a PL record.

Post-Playing Career

Apart from a stint as Newcastle boss towards the end of the 2008/09 season, Shearer didn’t transfer his footballing prowess to the dugout.

Instead he developed a media career as a football pundit. Today he is a regular on Match of the Day, giving viewers the benefit of his experience, gained in over 18 years as a professional footballer.

Although the Toon Army are still able to watch their hero on television, the one image that will lodge long in their memory is of Shearer wheeling away, arm aloft, as he celebrates yet another successful strike on goal.

To relive some of those deadly strikes by the Premier League’s deadliest finisher, click on the photo opposite.

richard@bobbyfc.com

Man City: League Cup Winners
A barometer of English football’s changing face

by Richard D J J Bowdery

Yesterday (2 March) Manchester City won the League Cup for the third time in four final appearances when they beat Sunderland 3-1. But if you cast your mind back to 1970 you will notice a startling difference between the City team then and now.

All England…almost
On 7 March, 44 years ago, Manchester City took to the field at Wembley against West Bromwich Albion in the 10th League Cup Final.

City won that match 2-1 with goals scored by Mike Doyle and Glyn Pardoe; West Brom’s consolation came from Jeff Astle.

But it was City’s line up that day which proved the greatest contrast to the team that took to the lush turf of Wembley for yesterday’s final.

Back in 1970 the team that lined up for the kick-off comprised off 10 Englishmen and only one ‘Johnny’ foreigner, well Scottish actually so I guess that would make him ‘Jocky’ foreigner. Even the substitute (only one per team back then) and manager were English.

The eleven who lifted the cup that day, managed by Joe Mercer, were:

City70

Mike Doyle celebrates his equalising goal against West Brom in the 1970 League Cup final. Man City won 2 – 1 after extra time

Joe Corrigan (in goal)
Tony Book (c)
Arthur Mann (Scotland)
Mike Doyle
Tommy Booth
Alan Oakes
George Heslop
Colin Bell
Mike Summerbee
Francis Lee
Glyn Pardoe

Substitute:
Ian Bowyer

Interestingly there were four Scotsmen in West Brom’s side that day, with a Welshman as substitute.

Four years after their first win they faced Wolverhampton Wanderers in the final. They could not match their heroics of 1970 and went down 2-1. Hibbitt scored for Wolves in the first half. City’s Bell drew the team’s level with a goal in the 59th minute. But John Richards sealed a Wolves victory, scoring the winner five minutes from time.

This time there were three ‘foreigners’ in an otherwise all England City side. Ron Saunders from Cheshire was City’s manager.

In 1976 Manchester City once again found themselves in the final, this time up against Newcastle United with Malcolm McDonald spearheading the Magpies attack.

City won 2-1, the same final score as their previous two appearances. A goal from number 7 Barnes and a wonderful overhead effort from Dennis Tueart in the second half, sealed the match, with Gowling getting Newcastle’s solitary reply.

Only two ‘foreigners’ made the starting eleven that day.

In the boardroom
During City’s League Cup appearances in the 70’s the predominately English boardroom reflected the team on the pitch.

Albert Alexander was the chairman as the sixties turned into the seventies. Around this time the board faced a power struggle, ignited by deputy-chairman Frank Johnson’s decision to sell most of his shareholding.

The tussle that followed convinced Johnson not to sell and the status quo resumed; that is until ill-health force Albert to relinquish the reins. His son Eric replaced him as chairman.

By the time City lost at Wembley to Wolves a new face lead the business side of the club: Peter Swales. This change was brought about by Eric’s decision to step-down.

Throughout the time of these League Cup appearances the City boardroom was largely English. But it was their lack of success on the pitch under Swales tenure as chairman which led to a revolt by the fans who wanted Swales out. They duly got their wish in 1994 when former City forward Francis Lee, self-made millionaire, purchased £3 million of shares. Swales was ousted, never to return.

In hindsight that revolt could be seen as the catalyst that took Manchester City from being a British run, predominantly English team to the club that now graces the Premiership.

By September 2008 the club was bought by Sheikh Mansour, who has pumped millions into Manchester City that has seen an upturn in the club’s fortunes.

Fast-forward to 2014
Today Manchester City has undergone a massive facelift and is, in many respects, unrecognisable from the club that last reached a Wembley League Cup Final.

Not only has it relocated from its spiritual home at Maine Road, the make-up of the boardroom, dugout and team is dominated by foreign imports.

In City’s starting eleven yesterday there was not one Englishman. The team City fielded was:

City2014

City players celebrate their Cup success, achieved with no English input

Pantilimon (in goal)
Zabaleta
Kolarov
Yaya Touré
Kompany
Demichelis
Nasri
Fernandinho
Agüero
Dzeko
Silva

Three of the six substitutes (only one allowed in the 70’s remember) were English but manager Manuel Pellegrini didn’t involve any of them in his three second half substituions.

Who benefits?
Is this good for the game? I guess it depends upon your point of view. I’m sure most City fans to a man would say it is, following their Premiership title, FA Cup win and now their third League Cup success. So, I suspect, would the fans of Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United.

But those battling for Premiership survival without the millions to invest in top class players would probably disagree.

And if you are playing below the top tier of English football how can you get to the top table and stay there longer than the aperitif?

You could ask that cash-in-hand plasterer, Loadsamoney for a wad. Or find yourself a billionaire looking for a new toy to play with.

But what about the England national team. There is an argument that with so many foreign players plying their trade in the English game it hampers local talent.

Maybe, maybe not. Personally I don’t think England has ever fully recovered from the footballing lesson the Hungarians taught us at Wembley in November 1953.

Older readers may recall we were soundly beaten 6-3 even though Walter Winterbottom put out a decent side that day which included Stanley Matthews, Stan Mortensen, Alf Ramsey and Billy Wright.

The style of the Hungarians cultured play left those watching the game mesmerised.

Some say that was the day England’s dominance of the game crumbled, apart from the little matter of a tournament in 1966.

What is the solution?
I think it is too simplistic to say limit each club to a set number of foreign players. That in itself will not provide the skillful players England needs.

And don’t forget, the game is no longer about ‘bums on seats’. It’s about TV revenue, branding and global markets.

It is a world apart from the game that as it was in the 70’s.

A final thought…Just think, if Jesús Navas hadn’t scored in the 90th minute all of Manchester City’s four League Cup Final appearances would have finished with the same scoreline, 2-1.

 

richard@bobbyfc.com

Newcastle v Man City Preview
We Recall the League Cup Final of 1976

by Rob Shepherd.

Peter Barnes, Dave Watson, and Dennis Tueart celebrate Manchester City's 1976 League Cup win

Peter Barnes, Dave Watson, and Dennis Tueart celebrate City’s 1976 League Cup win

Until the New Manchester City won the FA Cup in 2011, matches against Newcastle had for the past three decades always a carried a special emotional attachment.

After the oil money rolled in and under the management of Roberto Mancini, the trophy cabinet was finally re–opened when City beat Stoke at Wembley three and half years ago.

It brought to an end 35 barren years.

Even young City fans knew off by heart that their last previous major silverware – the League Cup – had been won in 1976 when City beat Newcastle when a bloke called Dennis Tueart scored the winner with a brilliant overhead kick, Peter Barnes having scored the other in a 2-1 win (see below).

It was folklore, even to the post Madchester Oasis inspired generation, and Newcastle United were part of it.

It is perhaps surprising Liam Gallagher or Noel Gallagher never wrote a song about it. Or maybe they did and it was part of their thinking when they wrote Live Forever.

Now that League Cup win is just a distant part of City’s history like the great Joe Marcer side of Lee, Bell and Sumerbee.

Having won the title for the first since 1968 two seasons ago, City are now part of the Champions League elite and a new wave of history unfolds even though last weeks trouncing of West Ham means they are primed to win the League Cup (now the Capital One Cup) again at last.

City though is a club which now looks ahead with conviction rather than back in anger, it’s now about the excitement of taking on Barcelona not reflecting on what they once did to Newcastle.

That said Sunday’s match at Newcastle is crucial to City in their quest to win the Premier League.

Although their away form has improved this match is a significant test of City’s title credentials against a Newcastle side who are nudging towards Europa League football next season.

Oh on that point, as if Toon Army fans need reminding, their last major trophy was won back in 1969 in European competiton…the now defunct Inter City Fairs Cup.

A 2-2 draw could be a decent shout.

THE ODDS

Newcastle United  v  Manchester City, Premier League, Sunday Jan 12th, 2pm (Live on SkySports 1)

Newcastle: 15/4   Draw: 3/1    Man City: 4/6

Yoan+Gouffran+Aston+Villa+v+Newcastle+United+nUXVOKYT3a4l

Gouffran is a good shout to score first at 12/1

Head to Head Record

Newcastle wins: 61   Drawn: 38   Man City wins: 70

Selected Bets;

Newcastle to win 1-0: 18/1, 2-1: 14/1, 3-2: 33/1

Draw –  0-0: 14/1  1-1: 7/1  2-2: 12/1  3-3: 40/1

City to win 0-1: 8/1, 1-3: 11/1, 2-4: 35/1

To score first goal;

Remy: 8/1, Ben Arfa: 12/1, Gouffran: 12/1, Cabaye: 16/1

Negredo: 4/1, Dzeko: 5/1, Toure: 7/1, Navas: 10/1

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY: Gouffran to score first, 2-2 final score: 100/1

 

Odds courtesy of PaddyPower.

 

 

GIANT KILLING!
Is the FA Cup third round still a banana skin for football’s elite?

By Richard D J J Bowdery.

This is the week that lower league and non-league footballers dream about; the opportunity to go toe to toe with their more illustrious cousins.

However, for those clubs in England’s top division facing opposition further down the pecking order it was either a stroll to the fourth round or a banana skin upset, resulting in ignominy. Rarely was there any middle ground.

Certainly the press, the pundits, the chairman, the manager and, most importantly, the supporters expected the First Division side to come out on top. But a trip down memory lane is littered with examples of teams from the apex of football’s pyramid falling prey to the minnows in the third round.

Who can forget the ‘mighty’ Sutton United’s humbling of Coventry City who, back in 1989, were playing in the top flight?

FOOTBALL FA CUP 1988/89 SEASON; SUTTON UNITED v COVENTRY CITY; S

Hanlon enters FA Cup folklore with the winner for Sutton

On 7 January 1989 the non-league Conference side, with home advantage, took on the side who less than two years earlier had lifted the Cup after beating Spurs 3-2 at Wembley.

Sutton took the lead through their captain Tony Rains. As news of the underdog’s lead trickled out the shock echoed across the footballing world with people asking if the unthinkable could really happen?

It seemed not when Coventry’s David Phillips equalized. Normal service was resumed. Or so most neutrals thought. That was until Matthew Hanlon stole into the box and fired home a sensational goal that sent the home fans into raptures.

Who can forget Hanlon ripping off his shirt and using it to impersonate a windmill?

Despite a concerted effort by Coventry to draw level – denied by the woodwork on several occasions and some last-ditch defending – Sutton held on to record one of the greatest upsets in FA Cup history.

At the final whistle the crowd were delirious. And Coventry City were sent to…eh Coventry.

Another milestone in FA Cup giant killing came at Edgar Street, home to Hereford United in February 1972. In some people’s eyes this upset surpassed even that of Sutton, because it was the first time a non-league club had beaten a top-flight team in the Cup since Yeovil Town overcame Sunderland 2-1 in 1949.

What is remarkable about Hereford’s route to FA Cup glory was that as they played in the Southern League their cup campaign started in the 4th qualifying round. Their match against Newcastle United in the 3rd round proper, therefore, was their 7th.

First Division Newcastle, with several international players in their side including England’s Malcolm McDonald, looked odds on to swat these non-league upstarts out of the competition.

In the first match at St. James’ Park the game ended 2-2, the result taking everyone by surprise; not least United’s thoroughbreds. Perhaps a replay should have had the Geordie fans a little worried. But lightning doesn’t strike twice, does it?

At Edgar Street first blood went to Newcastle thanks to a late goal from McDonald. The fourth round was within touching distance. But they reckoned without Ronnie Radford.

With time running out for the minnows Radford picked up a loose ball and from 30 yards fired in the equaliser.

Even now I can hear the excited, stunned, and at the same time, elated voice of John Motson, commentating for Match of the Day.

If memory serves me correctly the home fans with unabated joy flooded onto the pitch. Soon afterwards the whistle blew for full-time.

So to extra-time. Though the pitch was cut-up and boggy the semi-pros managed to find the strength to take the game to Newcastle United, probably carried along more by adrenalin than by stamina and fitness.

It fell to Hereford’s Ricky George to hole Newcastle below the waterline and sink the First Division outfit with the deciding goal of the game. The minnows were through to the fourth round and, in the process, became the stuff of FA Cup folklore.

Could it happen today? Probably not.

The Premier League, with the money to buy the best in the world, is head and shoulders above the old First Division. The fitness levels required of today’s superstars far surpasses the days of yesteryear when a player having a fag in the toilet at half-time was not unheard of.

What was once a more level playing field is now tilted very much in the big boys favour. Could anyone seriously imagine say Salisbury City of the Conference Premier Division beating Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium?

But then again this is the FA Cup. And as James Bond once famously quipped: “Never say never again.”

Finally, I would like to wish all the readers of this column and of Bobby FC a very happy New Year.

 

The Toon Swoon

kevin-keegan-blue-star

Note: Gold chain was optional

 

Team: Newcastle United

Home or Away: Home

Years Active: 1980 – 1983

As Worn By: Kevin Keegan, Chris Waddle, Bobby Shinton, Imre Varadi, Kenny Wharton and Jeff Clarke.

Things weren’t going particularly well on the pitch for the Magpies in 1980 as they languished in the middle of the Division Two table, but the club’s new shirt manufacturer Umbro had designed a kit for the club that fans were sure to love.

It was nothing out of the ordinary to most people, the usual black and white stripes with an embroidered badge featuring the City’s castle and the famous magpie, but this became a uniquely memorable Newcastle shirt for a couple of reasons;

WADDLE_Chris_19811031_GH_R

Young Waddle, before he’d ever heard the word ‘Mullet’

1. On the plus side; It was the first Newcastle kit to feature a shirt sponsor. And what a sponsor! Not only was Newcastle Brown Ale extremely popular with fans, the ‘blue star’ logo also looked good. So much so in fact that this is a rare case of a sponsor’s loge actually enhancing a shirt rather than diminishing it.

2. Less positively, and quite importantly; the stripes weren’t actually black. I mean they were meant to be, indeed the stripes on the players shirts were indeed black, but the shirts available for fans to buy in the club shop were adorned with dark brown stripes. Not immediately noticeable at first, but all too evident after you had washed your beloved shirt a couple of times.

The club eventually admitted it was a manufacturing error and sent out letters of apology to supporters in which they claimed that ‘black was a very difficult colour for shirt manufacturers to reproduce’.  Yeah…

Perhaps Umbro had got a little too caught up with the groundbreaking vented hem feature the kit sported. The plain black shorts were a skimpy affair (as was the rage in the 80’s, well in the UK at least) and the club returned to plain black socks after toying with hooped ones in the late 70’s .

How do you rate this kit…?

 


Who Ate All The Pies? The Life & Times of Mick Quinn

Publisher: Virgin Books
ISBN 978-0753508039

Unlike a lot of books written by footballers, Micky Quinn’s autobiography isn’t a yawn fest that trudges through one lacklustre tale after another. It’s an open and honest read, one in which he comes across as a thoroughly nice guy – even when he’s behind bars for 21 days.

This is essentially the tale of a funny, working-class Scouser who proved that there’s more to being a goal-scorer than being a super-fit athlete. Always more inclined to opt for kebab and chips over pasta or steamed veg, Quinn was an obvious target for opposing fans to mock due to his size.

He never let that get to him though, often having the last laugh himself by putting one in their onion bag.

MickQuinnBookQuinn’s recollections of his time under managers such as Alan Ball, Jim Smith, Kevin Keegan, Bobby Gould, Phil Neal and John Gregory are absorbing, mainly because he doesn’t hold back. For example; of John Gregory, his manager at Portsmouth, he says “If John was chocolate he would have eaten himself”.

At one point Quinn ended up at Watford on loan, it’s a spell he doesn’t look back on with great affection; “I wanted to play for a club full of passion and desire, not one with no ambition, few supporters and no future. The atmosphere at Vicarage Road is about as tame as one of Elton John’s slushy albums.”

Quinn reveals a more sensitive side to his usually outspoken nature when talking about the death of his brother at just 26 and the later loss of his mother, both of which are very moving to read about.

You certainly don’t have to be a fan of any of the clubs Quinn played for to appreciate this book. He is a real character, and this is an honest and funny read that football fans everywhere will thoroughly enjoy.

BB Rating 9/10