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Bez Lifts the Lid...
 Life with United...and beyond   Part XII

09/12/00
 
Here we are again, and Bez has relented and let slip another Tino tale, along with his views on the sale of Robbie Elliott and other Gunners-related recollections.

John in action at Highbury on 18.9.94

John Beresford recalls previous tussles with the Gunners:

27-Nov-1993 Arsenal (a) 1-2 Premier League

United were undone by set piece goals from Wright and Smith - Bould getting ahead of Bracewell and Lee at the near post, but Beardsley got one back in front of the travelling army of away supporters at the Clock End.

"This was the first time that Kevin Keegan's policy of not having worked on certain tactical things before a match caught up with us. Basically, we didn't work on defending set pieces and took no notice of Arsenal's tactics. They caught us out quickly and we were chasing the game after that, and they did us again with the same trick because we couldn't get it sorted while the game was going on. Playing on that tight pitch with a noisy crowd was a great experience, but we came off knowing we'd been caught out."  

7-May-1994 Arsenal (h) 2-0 Premier League

The Newcastle team formed a guard of honour to welcome Arsenal, who had captured the Cup Winners Cup during the week, Cole extended the goal scoring record to 41 and Newcastle fans held a post-match party all over the city.

"I can never remember doing the guard of honour thing before, but the Newcastle boys were all well up for the game, as we got an extra bonus if we finished third. Arsenal were just making up the numbers and when Peter (Beardsley) and Andy (Cole) scored, we knew that the 1,800 each was safe! We went out in Newcastle to celebrate and the whole town was jumping, but we were quite sensible as it was a wives and girlfriends do....

It was a funny time for me as I'd been absolutely gutted when we'd lost at Sheffield United the previous week
(Bez is a life-long Blades fan), but deep down pleased that they had a better chance of staying up with those points (Sheffield United however were still relegated, after conceding a late goal at Chelsea.)

18-Sep-1994 (a) Arsenal 3-2 Premier League

A victory in this Sunday match with goals from Keown (og), Beardsley & Fox

"This game was when Ian Wright was in his absolute prime, and a real handful to defend against. He had every trick in the book, from nipping to treading on your feet, but off the field was a really good lad and fun to be around. I always thought he would have been a perfect player for Newcastle and the fans would have loved him, but it never worked out."

At this point, talking about Ruel Fox's winner, we asked Bez about the strangely high number of Man of the Match awards Foxy won in home games that season. While Bez confirmed that the prize each game was donated by a furniture shop, he was unable to substantiate allegations that there was some sort of fiddle going on. However, he did admit that Foxy had moved into a new house on Tyneside and was busy furnishing it !  

10-Jan-1996 (a) Arsenal 0-2 1996 League Cup QF

Disgraceful refereeing saw savage tackles on Ginola go unpunished and even result in a booking for the Frenchman when brought down ! His frustration resulted in a dismissal for elbowing Lee Dixon in the face. Ian Wright scored a goal in each half.

"Looking back, after this game David Ginola was never the same player he had been before. He was literally in tears in the dressing room and was just so frustrated, and felt everything was against him. Dixon had been giving him some rough treatment and then of course made the most of the elbow, and the Highbury crowd and all the press and media were accusing him of being a diver.

This was a turning point in his career at Newcastle and in many ways the beginning of the end, as he stopped being a team player and things got too personal with him. He tried to take the whole opposition team on and frustrated his team mates as much as the other team."

23-Mar-1996 Arsenal (a) 0-2 Premier League

A major blow to our title hopes when Barton gifted a ball for them to score.

"I know that Warren won't mind telling you this one. He got caught trying to be clever instead of hoofing it away and was really upset after the match. What made it worse was that he was an Arsenal fan as a kid, and didn't know whether to laugh or cry when Keegan said to him in front of all the lads 'You're not playing for Southerners now - I didn't buy you to play football - just keep it simple'...."

That caused a bit of an awkward silence in the dressing room, and Keegan then started on the rest of the team, having a real go at people for not performing. In the middle of all this, Tino stood up and started to take his kit off and all the lads were just waiting for KK to go barmy. He asked Tino what he thought he was doing, and got a reply, 'I get changed, I catch plane'.
(he was off to play for Colombia)

KK couldn't cope with this, and just shook his head and let him get on with it. When Tino came out of the shower, the gaffer was still talking to us all, and again stopped when Tino pulled a pair of jeans and a thick jumper from his bag. Keegan said to him, 'Tino, you're not going anywhere - look outside, that crowd will be there for another hour.'

The dressing room at Highbury backs on to the street, and if you open the window, you can see all the fans crowded outside. Someone opened up the window and we all looked out including the gaffer, who said 'see? I told you.' Tino turned round, looked at him and said 'yes I will' then looked back out in into the street and whistled. Straight away, a guy on a massive motorbike showed up and Tino gave him the thumbs up before rushing out of the dressing room. Seconds later he appeared outside, strapped on a helmet, jumped on the back of the bike and was gone, blasting off into the crowd..

We were all still looking out of the window in amazement, when KK turned round and simply said "can you believe that guy ?" or words to that effect...   

3-May-1997 Arsenal (a) 1-0 Premier League 

Gillespie sent off for two bookable offences after coming on as a substitute. Robbie Elliott got our winner as Europe beckoned.

"You look at the team that started this game (Srnicek, Barton, Peacock, Watson, Beresford, Lee, Batty, Elliott, Ferdinand, Shearer, Asprilla (Clark and Gillespie used as subs) and it seems obvious to me that if Kenny had stuck with this squad and brought in only one or two new faces, we would have had the team to really challenge the following season.

The problem was that the players were Keegan's and although we respected Kenny, it just wasn't enough for him. Players came and went, and the local lads going was a bad move. Rushy and Barnes were great when they came, but they just weren't right for Newcastle and things had changed for the worse.

Of course Robbie Elliott scored the winner in this match, and that summed up the difference between me and him. While I could bomb on and try to set up chances, Robbie was more defensively minded but could still ghost into the box and get you a goal. We complimented each other down the left and were both happy with the partnership, after having been competing for the one shirt previously. I had even sorted Robbie out with some sponsorship with the same firm that I had a deal with, telling them that if I wasn't in the team, he would be the one taking my place!

At the end of the season, I was approached by Colin Todd at Bolton who told me he was looking for a left back and asked me what the situation was at Newcastle. I was perfectly happy and told him so, but you never know what can go on so Toddy went to Newcastle and made an enquiry.

Newcastle came back and told him that I wasn't for sale, then the next thing I hear is that they've sold Robbie to Bolton and I was speechless. The fact that they'd let the younger of the two of us go and sold the local lad with the potential just seemed to show that the plc had told them to get money in. 

Robbie was devastated and we all knew how much it meant to him. I never fathomed what Newcastle were trying to do, but almost overnight the spirit that had made it so special had just gone from the club."   

Niall MacKenzie
 


Page last updated 24 June, 2009