The greatest prize a Newcastle player could ever achieve; Newcastle No9 – following the greats and real greats.
The best players who we’ve had occupy the role are the ones who were playing for honour, pride, and most importantly, for the shirt. Jackie Milburn, Malcolm Mcdonald and Alan Shearer are all examples of this. Not only did they score regularly, they also did their country proud when called upon.
Andy Carroll’s rather ambiguous departure from Newcastle has left the great Number 9 redundant with a dramatic void in our attack being a by-product of his departure. He wore the shirt briefly after being handed the greatest privilege and declaration of respect by Chris Hughton. A local lad, born and bred in Newcastle, he understood the weight and the power of it.
Sadly he let himself be swayed by other guises. He did the shirt proud and the days of Shearer, albeit briefly, filled our memories as we watched him terrorise and run ragged Premier League defences. Suddenly though his respect for the shirt diminished and he departed for Liverpool to become their No9. I wonder if he pulls on the shirt and regrets the fact that he sees the red instead of the black and white and when he walks out at Anfield he wishes he could turn to the adoring Gallowgate fans saluting their number 9 instead?
However that is the past and this is the present. We need a new No9! It’s in our history, our blood, it’s Newcastle. The problem is that it has to be deserved. In my mind there are three main focal points for a No9 at the Newcastle:
1) Local pride; they have to understand the passion honour and love of the club the region and wear the shirt as if they are wearing the hearts of all the fans.
2) Ability; the No9 doesn’t just go to anyone it has to be earned by prowess in front of goal; leading the line with power, ability, and determination.
3) Nationality; Now this is a debatable topic as I like the rest of you wouldn’t mind David Villa taking up the No9 shirt for us. However I think the attraction and pull of the No9 would mean so much more to a fellow countryman. There is also more of an affiliation with the fans when its one of our own.
Contenders; Carroll could have been something great at Newcastle but he gave it up for other riches so it leaves the door open for others. In a dream world we would all want a local lad wearing the shirt. Why not? We had Shearer.
That’s why I don’t think any of our new signings should get the shirt; they are too fresh to the area they are most likely going to be foreign looking at our targets. They may have the ability, but do they have the strength to carry the shirt?
Now one local lad who is playing steadily for the reserves and is one of bright hopes for the future… Phil Airey. He is young untested and raw but at the moment I can’t see anyone deserving of the shirt .. So why not wait for young Airey to break into the first team and start scoring, because if he does he ticks all the boxes.
More importantly seeing him at a reserve game….The lad has got potential and there is a certain something about him that smacks of potential No9.
Note from Toonsy – A big thanks to Liam Southern Toon for contributing this article.