In the 1960s I worked at the coast and so we lived at the Four Lane Ends, Benton. Being a keen footy fan I often went to watch schoolboy football. One of the venues I enjoyed going to at that time was the Manor Park School that was then located on Benton Road. Not only that, but it was just up the road from the local hostelry that is situated still on Benton Road. So after watching the football I could nip in to the pub for a quick one before returning home.
On more than one occasion I happened to recognise the then well-publicised chief scout for Newcastle United who had almost taken up residence at the school’s playing field. I will not use his name because it may embarrass any remaining members of his family. But this story, is absolutely true.
The chief coach was there to watch, on a continuous basis, a young lad who played centre forward for Manor Park in those days whose name was Jimmy Husband. At that time he and his family had not decided at which football club he was to go to although later he signed for Everton. Also on that team was a little skinny lad, and I mean little, who played in the number four shirt which in those days was the right half position. For a few weeks I had noticed this little lad playing away and, in my opinion, was the star of the team. Not Mr Husband! I mentioned this several times to the chief coach of NUFC. He replied, that he had watched this laddie but had decided that he was ‘too small to feature in any team for Newcastle’. And so, the little lad continued to play for his team and play well too, week-in week-out.
Along came a team called Sunderland who watched this ‘little laddie’ and signed him up. He went on to play in the first team as well having come through the reserves. Then, surprise-surprise, a big team called Manchester City approached Sunderland and bought the young lad and took him off to Manchester. Whilst at Sunderland and Manchester City, the ‘little laddie’ had grown, not only physically but in stature as well – he had become an England international footballer.
In 1976, Newcastle United did well in the League Cup, scraping through against Spurs at White Hart Lane and then giving them a football lesson at St James’ to a packed house and so reached Wembley. My next-door neighbour and I went to London to watch the Toon play. In London, the story was going about that Newcastle players all had the flu bug. That may have been so but at half-time the score was one all, with Alan Gowling netting for Newcastle. Then immediately after half-time a certain ‘little laddie’ popped up with an overhead kick to plant the ball firmly into the Newcastle net. We had lost again, and the long trip home was equally miserable. That ‘little laddie’, a little wing half wearing the number four shirt for Manor Park had just broken my heart. His name was Dennis Tueart, a Geordie, a player for Sunderland, Manchester City and England.
…And here he is breaking Toon hearts….
Not all chief scouts have a commanding knowledge of football. Some have – some haven’t!