Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Wor Jackie Saw Era of Player Power Coming - 23 Years Ago

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Wor Jackie Saw Era of Player Power Coming - 23 Years Ago

Article excerpt

Wor Jackie saw player power coming long before it almost ripped the heart out of his beloved Newcastle United.

In recent years the antics of Newcastle's "bling" players such as Craig Bellamy, Kieron Dyer, Lee Bowyer, Jermaine Jenas, Titus Bramble and Laurent Robert have earned more money than Milburn could ever have imagined ( but have also failed to win a single medal between them.

And it's a safe bet that the great Jackie Milburn, the man who fired in 200 goals for the Magpies ( 238 if you include wartime strikes ( would have been mortified by some of the behaviour that has plagued United in recent times.

From big-money wage demands to fighting on the pitch with your team-mate, calling the manager a liar on live TV or dubious incidents on the Quayside ( all of it has shamed Newcastle.

Milburn knew the game had changed when he made the transition from star striker to manager after hanging up his boots and heading for the dugout to precede Alf Ramsey at Ipswich Town.

He said back in 1983: "When I finished I was managing Ipswich. I managed Ipswich on my 40th birthday so I played consistently for 21 years as a professional footballer.

"Ipswich unfortunately was in a bad state ( they were a Fourth Division team in the First Division and I wasn't there very long. I was only there two years but I did manage to scrape the barrel. I got rid of every player on the books and brought new players in. I bought 21 players for pounds 20,000.

"But the reason I left management was because of the way the structure of the game had changed. Players were getting more than managers, players were becoming greedy. They wanted to run the game, run the club and I had the foresight to see that.

"And it wasn't the way I was brought up, so I had an offer from a newspaper to become a sports writer and I thought I wouldn't mind that.

"It is the worst game in the world managing a football club.

"There are a lot of good lads in football but you always get one or two bad ones, about 5%, that do all the damage, and believe you me, they do a lot of damage.

"It led really to the players becoming a little bit greedy, which is a bad thing in sport.

"Because after all in football all you do is kick a plastic ball about. That's all you do really."

Jackie on breaking into football

I was professional until I finished when I was 40.

I will not tell you what age I am. But that's all I've done all my life, just play football, talk football, think football, drink football and fortunately it paid off because I made a living at it.

The main profession and first profession of course was Newcastle United. In 1943 I went and saw them. I didn't think very much of them to be quite honest so at the beginning of the next year, the next season, I wrote in for a trial and they accepted.

On the first day I played against the first team in a trial match and I scored six goals. They signed me straight away in August 1943. A lot of young lads have their favourite clubs and at the time Sunderland were my favourite club and I went and signed for Newcastle. I am very glad because I had 15 wonderful seasons there.

They (Newcastle) were in the second division when I went and we got back into the first division in 1948. Incidentally, we had a world-record average crowd for a season, which was over 56,000 in 1948 when we won the Second Division, and that was only bettered about 20 years later by Manchester United.

Three years after that we won the Cup, my first cup final at Wembley

and I scored two. We had a wonderful day ( there is not a thrill like it.

On England and travelling

I was capped for England in 1949, the first of 13 caps, although they tell me I would have had over 47 or something if I had not been injured. I missed a lot of games.

Through football playing for England and Newcastle I played all over the world. …

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