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Preview Newcastle v Spurs, 29.12.02

Here is Brian Judson's preview of the gamePlease note, I do not share Brian's pessimism about this game. It will be tough, but we won there last year, and we can do it again! Spurs actually have one of the best away records of any side at St. James' Park.

Full Record of Spurs -v- Newcastle United

Prem         Pl   W   D   L    For-Ag  Pts
Home          9   5   1   3    19 -13  16
Away          9   2   3   4    10 -17   9
Total(Prem)  18   7   4   7    29 -30  25
Lge Div 1
Home         43  24   7  12    87 -48  59
Away         43  15  14  14    70 -76  45
Total(Div 1) 86  39  21  26   157 -124 109
Lge Div 2
Home          6   1   3   2     6 - 7   5
Away          6   3   0   3     6 - 4   6
Total(Div 2) 12   4   3   5    12 -11  11
Total(Prem)  18   7   4   7    29 -30  25
Total(Div 1) 86  39  21  26   157 -124 109
Total(Div 2) 12   4   3   5    12 -11  11
Grand Total 116  50  28  38   198 -165 145

Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur were the only teams who successfully defended the FA Cup during the 20th Century. The Magpies did so in season 1951-52 after winning it the previous season whilst Spurs did so on two occasions : in seasons 1961-62, having won the Double the previous season, and season 1981-82, having won the Centenary Cup Final. But Newcastle have, of course, won the League more than Tottenham have, although Newcastle's triumphs were mostly in the long Edwardian summer before World War 1 broke out. They have not won the League since doing so last in 1926-27.

Over the years, Newcastle have been blessed with many good players. One of their greatest players before World War One was Peter McWilliam, who later managed Tottenham. Between the wars, they had Hughie Gallacher, who so tragically fell on hard times after he retired and committed suicide by throwing himself under a train. In the 1940s and 1950s, there was Jimmy Scoular, Len Shackleton, Jackie Milburn and the Robledo brothers. In the 1960s, there was Bobby Moncur. In the 1970s, there was Malcolm Macdonald, whose exploits there persuaded Arsenal to sign him. In the 1980s, Newcastle persuaded Kevin Keegan to sign for them and revive them after they looked like sinking to the lower regions of the Football League. Two of the young players they discovered - Chris Waddle and Paul Gascoigne, later left for Tottenham. In the 1990s, they persuaded Alan Shearer to return home to Tyneside after years playing for other clubs. They currently boast the distinction of being managed by the oldest Football Manager in the shape of Sir Bobby Robson, now 70, but who still looks like the player who elegantly strode the pitch for Fulham and West Bromwich Albion in the 1950s and 1960s.

I have been to St James' Park once. I was staying with friends of my ex-wife and I went to see Newcastle play Grimsby Town in revamped First Division match in season 1992-93. Newcastle were on their way back to the top whilst Grimsby Town were struggling near the bottom. The din that day was deafening yet Grimsby snatched the points with a very late goal. As I recall, Dave Beasant was in goal for Grimsby as he was making his debut on loan and defied everything that Newcastle threw at them.

There is no doubt that Newcastle have a sleeping giant that could stride to great things if only they had a bigger squad. They do have a nice team coming along but too much depends on Shearer. Bellamy is till rather hot-headed - witness the fact he has been dismissed twice in the Champions League to sly underhand tricks that have made him lash out at the opposition. I could visualise Newcastle reaching the heights that Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool have attained in the past BUT so much depends on who ultimately succeeds Bobby Robson. At 70, whether he likes it or not, the Grim Reaper cannot be far away now so they do need to address that problem soon and groom his successor. Whether Shearer could do the job is a moot point ......

Tottenham have different problems! They need to strengthen their squad. Anderton is now clearly past his better days and I would prefer to see Simon Davies in the role of creative midfielder. There is also the question of Ziege's flawed temperament to be addressed. Dismissed in successive games, Tottenham are likely to be deprived of his services for at least three, if not more, games. They have also to sort out the problems of who replaces Sheringham, Ferdinand and Iversen. The latter player has not been the success we all once hoped for. Sheringham and Ferdinand are clearly past their 'sell-by' date and Rebrov clearly does not have a future at Tottenham. So who is going to score the goals?

Tomorrow's match should see a clear-cut result in favour of Newcastle. We have only won 28 matches out of the 58 that have been played at St James' Park. We do not usually win up there. But if we can survive the first 20 minutes or so without conceding a goal, the crowd might begin to feel frustrated by Newcastle's inability to score. But given Tottenham's inability to concentrate for more than an hour, I can't see us even snatching a point. If we concede an early goal, I can visualise the Toon winning 4-0.


Cheers, Brian

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