For most fans across the country, this Saturday signals the start of the new Premier League season. However, here at The Spectators View, we recognise that Saturday 18th August 2012 is, not only the date where Newcastle take on Spurs in the 2012-13 Premier League opener, but it is exactly 15 years since one of the most technically gifted players to ever grace a football pitch in a Newcastle shirt, Peter Beardsley, was last a Newcastle United player.
Beardsley was released by Newcastle’s academy as a teenager and signed for Carlisle at the age of 17 and went on to play for Vancouver, Manchester United and Vancouver again, before getting his dream move to Newcastle. However, during his teenage years, he revealed that he never expected to be playing professional football at all, never mind playing for his hometown club.
PB: “I didn’t think I’d even get my dream to be a professional footballer, so, when I went to Carlisle, they gave me a two year contract and after a month, they ripped it up and gave me a four-year contract and I thought ‘wow, I’m going to be playing football for four years’. I never thought ‘I’m going to play for England or whatever’. I just thought ‘I’m going to be playing football’ and that’s all I ever wanted to do. I Never thought about the money or whatever, I just wanted to play football and, to do it as your job, was just amazing”
Beardsley joined Newcastle on 23rd September 1983 for £150,00. He made his debut in a 1-1 draw with Barnsley the day after and scored his first goal for The Toon against Cardiff City in a 2-0 away win, scoring a hat-trick in the next fixture in a 5-0 win over Manchester City. He quickly became a favorite amongst Toon fans and explained just how much of a help it was to play in front of fellow Geordies.
PB: “When you’re local, the fans take you more under their wing and I never realised that would happen. When I first came, Chris Waddle was the main man, in terms of being the Geordie and they loved him and then, when I came and got the chance to do the same, KK said some nice things about me, which made people think I was better than I was, so I was lucky that everything kicked into place and, to play for your hometown club, was just amazing.”
In his first season, Beardsley scored 20 goals in the 2nd Division in a season where Newcastle won Promotion to the 1st Division, then followed that up with 17 goals in the top flight the season after. He revealed just how much of a shock it was for him to get into the top flight of English football
PB: “When I came to Newcastle, I never even thought about getting out of the division. I know that was the club’s plan, but my plan was just to play for Newcastle: To get promotion as we did, in 3rd place, was just amazing. It really was.” before going on to say “When I started playing, I just wanted to play for the team. It almost – not in a negative way – didn’t matter what league we were in, I just wanted to play.”
The next season, Waddle and Keegan – Beardsley’s striking partners – were no longer at the club. Beardsley was seen by many as being too good for Newcastle, as he was becoming an England regular whilst his club were in a relegation battle most seasons. He then left for Liverpool in 1987. He said it was the club’s decision to sell him, but, at the time, they made out that he was the one who wanted to go (sound familiar?). However, he explained that none of that affected his mentality towards playing for the club he supported all of his life.
PB: “When I came to go to Liverpool, they wanted to sell me. They were ready to sell me and that’s why I went. No other reason. They tried to make out it was my fault, but they decided. They asked me to sign a long-term contract – I had two years left – but I wasn’t sure of their ambition as a club, so, because of that, I just stayed on what I was and I was quite happy, but they decided to sell me, which was obviously disappointing in some ways, but, to go to Liverpool then, was brilliant. In my four years, we were first or second every year, so, it was just brilliant to go to a club like that and I neverlost any love for Newcastle and I never will, no matter what happens. If I lost my job tomorrow, it would still be my team and will always be my team and it always has been.”
When Beardsley made a sensational return under his former Toon strike partner Kevin Keegan, who was now manager, in 1993, he formed a new partnership with Andy Cole, a partnership that lit up the Premier League. In his first season, they scored 66 goals together, with Beardsley scoring 25 of them and providing assists for a lot of Cole’s 41. Beardsley revealed that himself and Cole got on just as well off the pitch as they did on it.
PB: “Andy Cole was very quiet, but he used to come to my room on a Friday night. Lets say we were playing Watford away tomorrow; we’d go away to the hotel and stay overnight. I roomed on my own and he roomed with Lee Clark and he would come and knock on my door and ask for advice at about 9 o’clock at night. I got on really well with him. He was very quiet, almost shy, and kept himself to himself, but I have to say he was top class. I got on really well with him and I still speak to him now. I have to call him Andrew now, though (laughs)”
Keegan gave Beardsley the captaincy and he went on to captain the team for over 100 games and explained just how special that day was when he got the armband.
PB: “When I look at the style of footballer I am, I probably should never have been a captain, because I was like a midfield/forward and people like that don’t get the captaincy, but Kevin Keegan looked after me, gave me the captain’s armband and, to get that was just unbelievable. I remember the day he told me. We were down at Wimbledon and he told me I was going to be the captain from now on and, to be honest, I wasn’t sure if he was winding me up or not. I was gobsmacked. It was really, really special.”
Beardsley almost captained the side to Premier League silverware, but the club famously blew a 12-point and were beaten to the title by Manchester United. Players normally find it hard to recover from sporting disasters such as this, mentally, but Beardsley revealed that there is no room for that in football and the team moved on quite quickly.
“PB: By the time you start pre-season, generally, it’s forgotten. It’s a bit like that in an opposite sense this year. We finished 5th last year, but that’s gone now. Now we’re trying to finish 5th again or better maybe, so it works both ways. It was a negative when we lost the league, but then, when you start pre-season, it’s gone. You can’t do anything about it. You can’t change what’s gone. You can only change the future, so, although we finished 5th last year, in their mind, they’ll be thinking ‘4th, 3rd, whatever’ and that’s the difference. When you look at those in the Olympics, they have to wait another 4 years. We waited 4 months.”
The following season saw Les Ferdinand and Newcastle’s all-time top goalscorer Alan Shearer join the club, a move which saw Beardsley pushed out of his position and playing in positions he wasn’t used to. However, he wasn’t frustrated by this at alland Keegan once said that he should be called Peter ‘No Problem’ Beardsley, as that was his response to wherever Keegan asked him to play.
PB: “I was lucky to still be in the team. When you look at Alan Shearer, Les Ferdinand, Tino Asprilla and David Ginola, Kevin, somehow, still found a place in the team for me and that was incredible. If he’d said ‘you’re playing in goal’ I’d have played in goal. There was a couple of games where I got left out, but I was almost 37 then. I was lucky to still be playing in the premier league with those great players”
Beardsley went on to talk about how much of an influence Keegan had on his career as a whole.
PB: “He had a massive impact on my career, my life, everything. He was God. When I first came to Newcastle in 1983, my wife and I flew from Vancouver to London and we got the shuttle up to Newcastle. Kevin Keegan was on the same flight, by coincidence, and he actually came up and spoke to me. A lot of people on that plane didn’t even know who I was, but he had somehow found out that I was on the plane and came and spoke to Sandra and I. I can’t say enough good things about him. He was God. Absolutely amazing”
Beardsley has experienced Newcastle’s succes as a fan, a player and a staff member, and spoke about how the 3 feelings differ.
PB: “When I was a player, it was easy, but, when I was a fan without being at the club after I finished playing, you get the buzz, but, when you’re on the inside, as I am now, it’s just an amazing feeling. Everything about the whole club from top to bottom is on an even keel. It’s brilliant to be on the inside. As a fan, you see it and think ‘wow, that’s exciting’, but when you get on the inside, it’s twice as exciting. Every day is fantastic”
So, 15 years on, having been a player, academy coach and a reseve team coach, Beardsley now works for the club as a football development manager, but what does that actually entail?
PB: “Basically, I see it as a role where I work from 21 down. I get involved with the reserves coaching, helping out at the academy and looks at young players and go scouting abroad for young talent like Curtis Good, Mehdi Abeid, Haris Vuckic. That’s the idea, to focus on everything positive that’s going on.”
So what does the future hold for Peter Beardsley? It seems as though he’s found a role that he really enjoys and a role he is really good at, but does he want to strive for his own success ahead of the success he could give the club in his role at the minute? When asked if he would ever go into management, this is what he said:
PB: “I’d really be surprised. I was in charge of the reserves until we decided on the football development role, but, when I look at how good Alan Pardew is and how positive he is, he’s obviously wanted to do it all his life, in my opinion. I don’t know that for a fact, but I get that impression and I think you have to have that mentality to be driven to do that. Obviously, I want to be successful and I want to make the club successful, but, in terms of management, I never think about it”
We’d like to thank Peter for talking to us and wish him and the club all the best for the future.