Friday, May 23, 2014

You couldn't make it up

It's fair to say that the last ten years have been eventful. Within a week of this site coming into being, the club had bid more than £20m for an 18-year-old Wayne Rooney - a move that, with hindsight, was actually less ludicrously improbable than it initially seemed - and sacked bona fide club legend Sir Bobby Robson just four games into the new season.

Since then, we've reported on everything from extraordinary managerial appointments (Graeme Souness, King Kev, Wor Al), the retirement of the greatest striker in the club's history, and the return of a goalkeeping legend, to our implication in a possible transfer scandal, a sponsorship deal with an ethically dubious payday loans company, the whims of an owner who has attempted to change to the official name of the stadium and ban the local press, and the deadline day sale of our very rough diamond of a star striker to Liverpool for a staggering £35m (to replace a £50m Chelsea-bound Spaniard who we apparently came close to signing back in 2006).

To wrap up our look back over the last decade, we've selected ten of the most ridiculous things we've found ourselves writing about.

Text pest (April 2005)

There are times when team-mates fall out. Bowyer and Dyer we've touched on already, Saylor and Rocky we'll gloss over, but even after players have moved on some of them still find it in their hearts to taunt former colleagues. Step forward Craig Bellamy and the incident which gave him the second half of his nickname as the No-Necked Text Pest.

To be honest, if you are going to send a snarky message to a team-mate after they've lost in a cup semi-final, Wor Al (the man who famously flattened Keith Gillespie after he became a bit gobby on a pre-season trip to Dublin) wouldn't be my choice of recipient, but then, Bellamy never was the brightest. (Paul)

The longest in the shower (October 2005)

There are times when you get a glimpse behind the veil of secrecy that surrounds the club. Sometimes for good, sometimes bad, and sometimes you just learn things that you don't really need to know.

Turns out that as well as having the attention span of a gnat, Titus is quite a big lad. Mind you, that was coming from someone whose own trouser contents were themselves the subject of much public interest only the following month. (Paul)

Charm offensive (September 2008)

In truth, we could probably have filled this whole list with anecdotes about the deluded, oafish wrecking ball that is JFK - a man Jabba appointed to a position of authority at St James' Park not once but twice. There were his absurd and preposterous boasts, his mangling of some players' surnames and his attempts to sign others we already owned.

But when it comes to choosing one particular "highlight" of his time on Tyneside, it would have to be that infamous press conference, which he began by calling the Mirror's north-east correspondent Simon Bird a "cunt" and proceeding to give a performance of astonishingly foul-mouthed belligerence. If Jabba had ever thought to install a swearbox at the ground, JFK might have ended up paying his own wages. (Ben)

Big Lad thinking he'd been burgled (January 2009)

As he heads for the door, bringing down the curtain on almost two decades at the club, it's only right that we salute Big Lad, a loyal club man and slayer of Mackems (if not half as many sides as I think he should have put to the sword over the years, given his undoubted natural gifts).

However, it's not his many goals against the Unwashed or his excellent penalty record to which I wish to pay tribute, but rather his slovenly ways which are such that he once called the police to report a burglary, only to find everything was still in his messy home. (Paul)

Congratulations! You are the highest bidder (June 2009)

We're not a football club renowned for having much in the way of dignity, so it perhaps shouldn't have come as so much of a surprise to learn that Jabba had resorted to soliciting email offers for the club via the official site. Strangely he decided the club was worth more than the Curly Wurly offered by a Mackem, but as we warned him at the time, "don't go getting excited when your inbox fills up with emails from Nigerian gentlemen expressing an interest in depositing large sums of money in your bank account".

What was next? A listing on eBay? A card in a newsagent's window? Jabba standing in Eldon Square, wearing nothing but a sandwich board? (Ben)

"Ride me, ride me!" (November 2010)

No one would deny that a 5-1 thrashing of the Mackems merited a post-match celebration, but Rocky and Kevin Nolan took it just that bit too far, landing themselves squarely in the middle of a sex and drugs scandal.

It wasn't the first time Toon players had disgraced themselves on a night out (recall, for instance, the official letter of complaint from the Ritz following a pre-Christmas party in 2004), but the fact that Nolan was our skipper and Rocky was the ward and houseguest whose nose he was supposedly keeping out of trouble made it all the more ridiculous. Still, given the incident occurred after a derby match at St James', at least no police horses were harmed, I suppose. (Ben)

Teething pains (July 2011)

The summer of 2011 saw the players undertake a pre-season tour of the US. Or, rather, most of them. Whichever bright spark chose the destination had failed to account for the fact that our two career criminals ASBO and the Lone Ranger would be barred from entering the country on the grounds of their past misdemeanours.

Even more farcically, though, our new marquee signing Dreamboat was unable to go either, his visa application held up due to a dispute over an unpaid dental bill. (Ben)

Gategate (June 2013)

An administration that can happily countenance changing the stadium name, attempt to besmirch the good name of King Kev and disrespect Wor Al clearly has precious little time for fripperies like history. Even when they try to pay lip service to tradition, they get it horribly wrong.

Take, for example, the supposedly "iconic" decades-old gates salvaged from Sir John Hall's back garden and, to much trumpeting from the club, restored to their rightful place outside the ground - gates which were actually in position for just nine years from 1990. Jabba may have had a grievance with the local press over them allegedly peddling lies, but he should remember that they've also been complicit and helpful in unquestioningly spreading this sort of guff on the club's behalf.

Meanwhile, it was left to supporters to raise sufficient funds to pay for a plaque in tribute to former player and manager Joe Harvey. (Ben)

Nutjob (March 2014)

If you had to put money on which of our managers over the past decade might, when temporarily overcome by the red mist, have headbutted an opposing player, the bookie's favourite would surely be Souness. Yet the worst he mustered was redecorating the away dressing room at Wigan with sandwiches.

The perpetrator was actually the man with whom Souness had a verbal spat in December 2005. The Silver Fox took exception to Hull's former Mackem midfielder David Meyler and lost the plot, earning himself a £60,000 fine and the longest FA ban ever handed to a manager. No dignity, no credibility - he was now a liability. Not that Jabba appeared to recognise that fact, announcing that the Silver Fox would remain in the job into the new season. (Ben)

Crash and burn (various)

If you're a past or present manager or player for the club, a word of advice: never, ever set foot anywhere near a car. Only bad things can come of it. Not all of these incidents occurred during the ten years of the blog's existence, and not all were written about on the blog - but nevertheless it makes for an instructive if alarming list...

Crashes: Titus Bramble, Andy Griffin, Kieron Dyer, Nobby Solano, Ossie Ardiles, Loic Remy

Speeding: Damien Duff, Peter Lovenkrands, HBA, Demba Ba, Davide Santon, Obafemi Martins, Michael Chopra, Craig Bellamy, Lee Bowyer, Jermaine Jenas, Big Lad (don't scoff at the idea of him doing anything too quickly)

Drink driving: Nobby Solano, the Lone Ranger, Matty PattisonDidi Hamann, Clarence Acuna (who happened to be dressed as Captain Hook at the time)

Motoring fraud: the Zog, Mr T

Car set on fire: Rocky

Tinted windows too dark: Shay Given

No doubt there are many more. Naturally ASBO has a motoring offence to his name, breaking a pedestrian's leg in Liverpool city centre (though this was in May 2005, before signing for Newcastle). One name missing from the above list is that of Papiss Cisse - whose first job, as a 15-year-old, was as an ambulance driver. (Ben)

(Thanks to Tim for some of the research.)

* * * * *

And that's not to mention: Little Saint Mick ogling Anna Friel in a less than saintly fashion at the premiere of Goal!; Wor Al being criticised by a popular grammarian; Mr T consulting "his favourite witch doctor" in a bid to recover from injury; Sideshow Bob getting pally with the Pontiff in the same month that Papiss Cisse sought to befriend fans by inviting them round to his for a barbecue and a game of pool; Bez recalling how one of Tino Asprilla's dodgy mates once sold him a £200 ring that turned out to be solid gold and worth £1200...

To be honest, if we keep trawling the archives this post could be enormous. So let's leave it there, shall we?




Blogger 63soul said...

Cheers, gentlemen. To be honest, although I read the other blogs you mentioned, this is the only one in which I have cared to post, given that the analysis has always taken a more intelligent and sharply humorous tone than most. Thanks again and good luck. HTL

2:26 am  
Anonymous Flynn ovens said...

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8:09 pm  

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