Steve Harper – A Newcastle Legend

Steve Harper has announced that he will be leaving Newcastle United this summer after spending 20 years at the club he supports.

Harper has played 198 games for Newcastle

Harper has played 198 games for Newcastle


It must not have been easy for him to decide to leave but he has fallen further down the pecking order this season, with both Tim Krul and Rob Elliott starting more matches. But he will always be remembered by the Newcastle fans as one of their own because he was always ready to play whenever he was needed and never let the club down. Also off the pitch he was someone that the rest of the players could look up to as he never moaned that he wasn’t playing and was the perfect professional under a lot of different managers.

Some will say that he lacked ambition, not leaving Newcastle earlier even though he was always considered second choice, particularly when Shay Given was around but to me personally he made Given a better goalkeeper simply because Harper was too good to be a number two and no manager would have been afraid to drop the Irishman as they had a fantastic replacement. When Newcastle were regularly finishing in the top five of the Premier League, Harper was arguably better than most other first choice keepers in the league and could easily have left and played first choice. But, Newcastle are his club and he will now, if he wasn’t already, be considered a cult hero, everything he did benefitted the club in some way and when a lot of other players did not want to stay around and fight and get the club back to where it belongs, he showed everyone his loyalty and commitment not to the board or to the manager but to the shirt that he was wearing and to the fans that had continually supported him.

His greatest moments would have been in the Championship winning season where he was first choice and helped them secure promotion straight back to the Premier League. In doing this he also set a new club record in keeping the most clean sheets in a season, he kept 21 in total and in some games was phenomenal, especially in a game against Sheffield United where he pulled off a number of fantastic saves. He kept his place for a while when they got promoted back to the Premier League but suffered an injury and has never been able to regain his first team spot afterwards.

He has had a good career, and some highlights along the way, a lot of people forget he actually did start the 1999 FA Cup final, so he came very close to winning a trophy at the club. But other great memories fans may have of him are not even to do with his goalkeeping and they include his famous elbow drop celebration after Cheick Tiote scored the equaliser in the 4-4 draw against Arsenal and having a spell upfront in a friendly game against Celtic.

Steve Harper will always be a legend to Newcastle fans and in my opinion was good enough to be in some England squads but it will be interesting to see what he does in the summer as he does also have his refereeing badges.

Shola Ameobi slays Sunderland yet again

Shola Ameobi has done it again against Sunderland and secured a vital point for Newcastle in a game that seemed to be drifting away from them.

He has not always been the most liked player and has been slated by many fans over the years but when it comes to the Tyne Wear Derby you know exactly what you are going to get from him. This was his seventh goal against Sunderland in only 12 games and this is why he will always be a cult hero. Only Jackie Milburn has scored more league goals in the derby than him. He may have got a bit lucky with his goal as Mignolet should never have been beaten at his near post with such a weak effort but at least he was in the position and connected with the ball.

It was a blood and thunder derby especially in the first half with many bookings and eventually early in the second half a red card which meant that recent signing Papiss Cisse could not really get into the game and makes you wonder if Pardew made the wrong choice. Everyone knows that Sunderland are sacred of Ameobi and he should have started. He didn’t have the greatest of days, Pardew, as Davide Santon was not looking very weak at the back and maybe Ryan Taylor should have started over at left back because when Hatem Ben Arfa came on he changed the game and put Newcastle on the front foot. He has at least given himself a good chance to start in the next game just like Ameobi has.

This day is about Shola and even though his record overall isn’t the best he does add something to the team whenever he plays, it was only a few weeks ago that he was a very important player in the game against Manchester United and although he didn’t score he should have been given a lot of praise for his performance. He has been at Newcastle his whole career (apart from a short loan spell at Stoke City) and you can see how much he loves the club and will do anything for it and anything to secure points for the team.

Shola now has 7 goals against Sunderland

He has never been a prolific goal scorer with him never getting to double figures in the Premier League and this is quite remarkable as he has played a lot of games and should have a higher scoring ratio but there is no doubt that he was a vital part of the team that won the Championship and got the team back to where they belong.

I hope he enjoys his goal and it lives long in the memory of the Toon fans because it has allowed them to have the bragging rights this season and if you are from the North East you understand how important not losing this game is. Sunderland will be devastated and they should feel a little ashamed of themselves especially club captain, Lee Cattermole who got himself sent off after the final whistle for verbally abusing the referee. You had your chance Sunderland and you blew it.