Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Shearer - the Last of a Dying Breed?

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Shearer - the Last of a Dying Breed?

Article excerpt

Byline: By Michael Martin

The late author and journalist Arthur Appleton famously described the North East as the "hot-bed of football". I wonder if the description still applies?

There was a time when any Championship side contained several Geordies.

Arsenal (Armstrong, Kennedy), Liverpool (managed by Paisley from Co. Durham with Alan and Ray Kennedy) and Bryan Robson, captain of England and Manchester United.

Teesside's Clough and Revie both bestrode the management stage and a certain Robert William Robson made Suffolk the centre of football before leading England to their finest post-1966 success at Italia 90.

Further back there was the peerless Jackie Milburn, the Charlton brothers, Norman Hunter, Colin Bell - the list is almost endless.

Lawrie McMenemy also has had a distinguished management career and retains much affection within his native Geordie-land.

Then there was the fruit of a Geordie generation - Waddle, Beardsley and Gascoigne - who all spent their formative years on the black and white beat and went on to succeed at the very pinnacle of football.

The iconic Alan Shearer proved Tyneside still has a knack of producing the very best.

But there is nothing new on the horizon. We would all love Ameobi to be a genuine force and for Chopra to live up to the hot air which has been expelled in his cause, but it is difficult to point to a North East-born player ready to bestride the game in the grand manner of Shearer, Gascoigne or Beardsley.

Explanations for this breakdown centre on the influx of foreigners into the Premiership. The fact is cheap imports have played a huge role in stemming the flow of North East players into the top levels of English football.

But that can't be the only explanation. Is it the fact that North East youngsters have switched from footy to computer games? Has the comfort of modern living taken the hunger away from "wor bairns"?

The North East is supposedly football-mad. That's a difficult point to disprove when, after 50 years without a domestic trophy, the magnificent St James' Park is filled to the rafters.

But scratch the surface and North East football is not in the rude health which packed houses in Gallowgate might convey. …

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