Wednesday, March 14, 2007

It must be glove

Well, what else could have persuaded Shay Given to commit himself to Newcastle for so long? He could have earned a fortune elsewhere whilst being called upon on far fewer occasions, but it's to his credit and our immeasurable benefit that he's stayed on Tyneside for as long as he has.

As .com have pointed out, if our Irish custodian plays in Holland tomorrow and at The Valley on Sunday as is expected, he'll notch his 408th and 409th appearances for the first team, taking him above Bobby Mitchell in our all-time record appearance list. Quite a feat.

In his comments before the AZ Alkmaar rematch, Given hinted that he'll be on Tyneside for the rest of his career - and beyond: "I am only a few months away from being at Newcastle for 10 years and that feels great. I've played over 400 games for the club and I don't think I'll ever move away, even when I've stopped playing. There have been rumours linking me with some of the Premiership's biggest clubs but I just ignore that." Good on you, Shay - in your position, behind a defence that routinely affords you as much protection as a bullet-proof vest would in a nuclear explosion, most of us would have seized the opportunity for an easier life long ago.

And yet, despite his 407 appearances, Given isn't the longest-serving player at the club. In fact, he's not even the longest-serving goalkeeper at the club. So, take a bow Steve Harper, who has been with us since 1993 and who today celebrates his 32nd birthday.

Despite being on our books for four years longer than Given, Harper has made just 85 appearances. If it was any other player, you might be tempted to accuse him of a lack of ambition or, worse, greed and idleness - but not Harper. He's played the part of the patient understudy to perfection, stepping into the breach to perform heroics as and when required, putting the club he loves before all else (including the possibility of a career in professional cricket).

So congratulations Steve - and thanks.


Post a Comment

<< Home