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The forgotten heroes of the entertainers

Right, I'm going to write a blog about football. Because I like it. Not as much as I used to but it is good isn't it? I devoured football facts when I was a kid, to the point that I was banned from playing on the football quiz stall at my school Christmas fete for getting all the answers right. I bloody love Kevin Keegan. I think he is the best man in the world. He makes people happy and really cares and then sometimes he goes in huffs and storms out. And, for a while, he make Newcastle United amazing. To the point that they beat Barcelona and it didn't even seem weird. His team of the early 90s was known as the Entertainers. Not by me or anyone I know admittedly but it is how time has remembered them. In the same way that time as remembered Kevin Keegan as merely a motivator who got a bit lucky rather than a man who galvanised an entire city. Kevin Keegan is a man who saw Steve Howey, a poor quality centre forward seemingly destined to drop down the divisions and turned him into a centre half who played for England. I mean, admittedly, he once played Asprilla and Ginola as wing backs in a European game (I forget against who) because he was a right bloody laugh. It worked too, Newcastle won comfortably. Everyone remembers the glamour players: Shearer, Beardsley, Ginola, Albert, Asprilla, Lee, Ferdinand, Cole... But what of thge others? As a kid, my favourites were never the big stars really. In the 80s I loved John Anderson, David McCreery and Kenny Wharton. Good players but hardly offering the glitz of a Gascoigne or Mirandinha. More than that though, I've always had a soft spot for the fringe player. Paul Sweeney, Lee Payne, Mark Stimson. I don't know why. So, here I present my half thought through list of THE FORGOTTEN HEROES OF THE ENTERTAINERS! I'll level with you, you'll agree with some of these more than others and some of them aren't forgotten at all, they just deserve more recognition. 10. Darron Mcdonough Kevin Keegan's first signing and it was this that made me think 'Woah! Keegan is really making waves here!" Now, he only played 2 or 3 games for Newcastle before breaking his leg and looked out of his depth in those but, I had always had a soft spot for the late 80s Luton Town team (I even wore a Steve Foster headband once for the school team until Mr Sassi told me off) and, for some reason, McDonough had been my favourite of their players. Look, I was ten or something, I probably just liked the unusual spelling of his first name. That sort of thing is a big deal when you are ten. I remember him sitting on the promotion celebrating open top bus parade with his plaster cast on and me thinking "Darron will be back next season, look out Premier League." He never played again. 9. Kevin Brock Kevin Brock was my favourite player for a while. I remember that he was disliked by loads of people because he once got substituted with a headache. Looking back, I bet he actually had a severe concussion and people were just dicks back then. His Newcastle career was almost over by the time Keegan came but he contributed to the record breaking 11 game winning run at the start of the promotion season in two ways. He almost scored against Sunderland, putting pressure on Gary Owers who put the ball into his own goal and, more impressively, he replaced an injured Tommy Wright in goal against (I think) Birmingham and kept a clean sheet despite getting concussed early on and despite not being a goalkeeper. He is also responsible for my favourite joke, which probably only worked for about 6 months: "Which 5 Newcastle players have advertised Brut? Keegan, Gascoigne, Kelly Lee Brock." Great joke that. 8. Gavin Peacock. Gavin's days were numbered upon the signing of Andy Cole, he was incredible in the first half of the promotion season but was injured and missed a lot of the run in. I don't buy that Cole's signing meant that he was bound to leave Newcastle by the way, the fact that he signed for Chelsea meant that he was, as he went on to prove, a Premier League player. If memory serves, he left because he had a baby that was born with a disability that meant that he wanted to be close to specialist care in London or something. He was an excellent player, graceful and with an eye for goal. Sadly, he now seems to be an anti-gay preacher in Canada. I am sad that Gavin Peacock turned out to be a dick. 7. Alex Mathie I think we wanted him to be a super-sub but I'm not sure he ever was. Signed from Morton, he scored a great goal when coming on as a sub on his debut against Sheffield Wednesday. Looking back though, I'm not entirely sure it didn't hit his shin. He spent most of that season coming on as a sub when Newcastle needed a goal and WAS a dangerous player, he later went on to have a good career with Ipswich and others. He just never quite scored as many from the bench as I like to remember. I like him because he is a throwback to the time when a player could be signed from a quite poor Scottish team and immediately play in the premier league. It's amazing to think that as recently as the early 90s Newcastle were signing Scott Sloan from Berwick and bunging him straight in the team. 6. Scott Sellars. Great player. Once Newcastle signed David Ginola, it was inevitable that Sellars would be sold. The squad game wasn't as big a deal in those days and it seemed madness to have two left wingers. Sellars should have stayed. Scorer of a wonderful free kick against Sunderland, prodigious creator of goals for Andy Cole, a tiny frail looking man with an incredibly deft left foot, Scott Sellars was a magician. What's that? He fell asleep at the wheel and killed a motorcyclist a few years back? Fucks sake lads! 5. Malcolm Allen I once read an article in The Mag where Kenny Wharton was described as having 'Nothing between his ears but a touch of class', this fits Allen too. A bit of a panic buy when Peter Beardsley was injured on the eve of the season, the few toothed fighty Welshman scored Newcastle's first ever Premier League goal and then went on to score 5 in 10 games before a horrific injury. Then, with Cole sold and Kitson struggling to fill his boots, there was news that Malcolm Allen was on the verge of recovery, never good enough to replace Cole, there was still hope that his return would be good for a few short term goals until a replacement (Which turned out to be the magnificent Les Ferdinand) was signed in the summer. It wasn't to be, the injury finished his career. About half a decade ago, he was arrseted for driving after drinking ten pints. Of course he was. 4. Chris Holland Creating 2 goals on his debut against Ipswich, Chris Holland was definitely going to be Newcastle's midfielder of the future, he was given the opportunity to train with the full England squad and hopes were high. Then, on a night out, somebody threw ammonia into his eyes. He never played for Newcastle again. He had a career, a pretty good one too, playing for Birmingham and, I think, Huddersfield. But, well, it could have been more. I remember that the Evening Chronicle printed the address of the man who throw the ammonia and a few people paid a visit. This can't possibly be true can it? 3. Harry Palmer One of the odder parts of the promotion season, was that a busker, Harry Palmer, not only brough a record out but that he was invited to play live at St James Park. Thing is, he was bad even by the standards of buskers. But I could listen to him for hours. There are clips of him on Youtube, including what seems to be a Tyne Tees documentary about him where, when asked her thoughts on his busking an old woman replies: "Eeeh, It's a shame for them isn't it?" Youtube also gives access to his esteemed vault of hits such as "Nah nah nah nah, hey hey hey, Alan Gowling" and "Geordie boys we are here, slap your lass with a Christmas tree." And no, I don't know what that means. I was speaking to Gavin Webster about Harry Palmer last night and he says that the rumour is that Harry became brain damaged after slipping on a pie at the match. Obviously I hope that isn't true, but it'd be incredibly fitting... 2. Steve Guppy and Darren Huckerby Two players who hardly played for Newcastle but went on to have excellent careers, Guppy even getting an England cap. They are symbolic though, both were top Premier League players who, at the time, just weren't good enough for Newcastle. It showed that the team were just a cut above and that they could compete for the Premier League and that, yes, they could play in the Champions League. Guppy and Huckerby were both very exciting players, I would like them to have stayed at Newcastle and I'm glad they did well. It's almost cliched to say this but Newcastle Utd would love a couple of players like them now. 1. David Kelly David Kelly is my favourite player. He is rarely mentioned on lists of Newcastle's greated number 9s. I get it. Gallagher, White, Milburn, Davies, MacDonald, Quinn, Cole, Shearer, Ferdinand... There is no shortage of contenders for the role. Kelly isn't the greatest but he might be the most important. Quite simply, Newcastle Utd may not exist if he hadn't scored to keep them in the second division. Then, a year later, he scored at Grimsby to take Newcastle into the Premier League. An incredibly hard worker and an excellent finisher, Kelly never played in the Premier League for Newcastle, it is understandable, if heart breaking that he was sold, after all, Peter Beardsley had been resigned. How did he celebrate his final Newcastle game? He scored three goals mate. My favourite thing about David Kelly is this. A few years later, he came on as a sub against Newcastle and was applauded onto the pitch. He was playing for Sunderland. Think about that for a bit... Quick plug: My 80+ minute stand up show, The Ultimate Worrier, costs £5.50 and can be downloaded from here:

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