France. For many of the baby boomer generation, this was a first taste
of abroad (unless you're of the fundamentalist persuasion holding with the
belief that anything past Durham is a foreign land.)
Before the days of the Tunnel, a new world across the channel was
opened up to school parties and student backpackers via Sealink hovercraft and
Townsend Thoresen ferries.
and mysterious place names abounded, which, along with half-remembered TV
clips of holiday programmes, conjured up visions of a strange and exciting
land. With garlic. And berets.
reality though, that day trip to Boulogne was about on a par with Redcar and
that romantic weekend in Paris only succeeded in emptying wallets whilst that
packet of three remained frustratingly unopened.
sum it up, the idea of France seemed so much better than the reality, with
perseverance required to reap any satisfaction. Accept the flaws and reward
often follows, but for every perfect day there seems to be the memory of a
surly waiter, manky hotel or some other let-down to spoil the view. And
we’ve not even mentioned the war….
When considering the representatives of France who’ve made their way to
Tyneside over a decade of Premiership participation, it's tempting also to
conclude that they’ve embodied those national characteristics, occasionally
to our delight but more often to our frustration, annoyance and bewilderment.
The annoying thing though is that we seem to be fated – compare our gallic
roll call for example with that of Arsenal.
chat, let’s tell part one of the sorry story and begin between the posts
with Lionel Perez. This scruffy bugger was the nearest we've come so far to
signing a character from The Simpsons, Sunderland's Krusty the Clown (with a
touch of Smithers tossed in, allegedly...)
persist on Tyneside that the free transfer of Perez to United was actually due
to a drunken wager between Kenny Dalglish and old Monkey's Heid. There are many other rumours but
fighting fund isn’t of Private Eye proportions.
from a pre-season penalty shootout victory over the smoggies, the most useful
thing Lionel ever did in Newcastle colours was move into his new home on the
outskirts of Cambridge wearing a tatty toon benchcoat, after we packed him off
to the Abbey Stadium (and even paid his wages there.)
Perez has now ended up with non-league Stevenage, which seems appropriate given our loathing of the preening posturing ponces from
into the defence and the one and only Didier Domi, who arrived full of praise
for the region - claiming that he didn’t want to move to a London club
because the city was too big and he’d get lost in it. Newcastle though was
just the right size for him, although in retrospect moving a devout muslim
into a Quayside flat wasn’t the cleverest move.
Fifty-five starts and four goals later, Domi had avoided playing in our 2000
pre-season tour of the USA through a dubious injury and then promptly
retreated back to Paris, claiming that local journalists and “godless”
fans had made his stay on Tyneside intolerable. The poor love still cashed his
We managed to sell him back to Paris Saint Germain for £3m, one million less
than we paid but unfortunately went and blew half of that wedge on Wayne Quinn
– even though he looked awful when on trial. Scratch cards would have been a
Last season Domi returned from the obscurity of the PSG shadow squad to play
his part in putting Leeds into Division one - we knew he'd come good one day.
He’s now secured his dream (free transfer) move from Paris to Barcelona, but
unfortunately for him that’s the City not the club, as he’s signed for
to Domi came David Terrier or David Who, as he was known to those poor
wretches who frequented our reserve games at Gateshead Stadium in 1998.
After having failed to make the grade at West Ham, Terrier looked like
returning to Metz before Kenny Dalglish inexplicably signed him on, then never
had the brass neck to play him in the first team, preferring to blood the
likes of David Beharall.
Instead he toiled alongside such famous names as
David Eatock and Ralf Keidel in front of handful of disinterested diehards
before finally being kicked out when we suddenly realized he was still on the
Someone who made slightly more of an impression was Franck Dumas, a rugged
defender (liked to kick people) signed by Gullit who lamped one fine effort in
at Stoke in a pre-season kickabout when Gullit pulled on his boots to try and
sort his stuttering side out at first hand.
And although he only played seven
games, Dumas seemed to settle in quite well despite looking disturbingly like
stumpy telly cook Anthony Worrall-Thompson.
Again though Dumas was another one to suddenly up sticks after deciding that
life in NE1 wasn’t as glamorous as back home.
He didn’t manage to engineer
a return to either Monaco or Marseilles though, ending up instead at Racing
Club Lens – think Ashington, with baguettes. And pits.
The hopes, aspirations and disappointments of this quartet though pale into
insignificance when the name of Stephane Guivarc’h is mentioned.
The 1994 World Cup had brought us Philippe Albert, after Kevin Keegan wrote
the Belgian’s name in his battered school jotter while tuning in to his
battered portable. Four years on and his successor Kenny Dalglish embarked on
some widescale team rebuilding and French striker Guivarc’h was procured
from Auxerre £3.5m while the player was representing his country at home in
the World Cup.
At that time Guivarc’h was derided by telly pundit Ruud Gullit for being an
artisan amongst a squad of artists. However, by the time he made his league
debut for us, the Dutchman was sitting in the Milburn Stand having been
confirmed as our, and Stephane’s new boss. It didn’t augur well.
Unlike his somewhat fitful contribution to France ’98 though, Guivarc’h
did manage a goal on his debut at home to Liverpool.
Owen managed three in less than quarter of an hour as we were blown away 4-1
and unbelievably it was downhill from then on for wor Stephane……
lowest ebb came when dropped from the side before a League Cup match at
Tranmere in favour of Paul Dalglish. Toon fans drinking that night in the
"Mersey Clipper" adjoining Prenton Park were amazed to find him
mooching disconsolately in the car park - a far cry from the winners podium in
the Stade de France less than four months previously. And he didn’t have his
medal with him, as one scally asked.
from that Liverpool debut, Guivarc’h made only one more league start as we
won 5-1 at Coventry but he failed to get on the scoresheet. Two sub
appearances were also accrued, one in the home defeat by Aston Villa that saw
Uriah Rennie’s disgraceful red card for Shearer and an away defeat at Spurs.
That miserable afternoon at White Hart Lane saw Stephane jeered by
disconsolate traveling Mags as he warmed up, in stark contrast to the
opposition centre forward who was applauded before the game and again when he
limped from the action barely 20 minutes later. His name? Les Ferdinand.
Whether Guivarc’h appreciated what was going on is doubtful, but to
Newcastle fans it was quite simple – we’d had a perfectly good player who
was as liked as he appeared to like wearing the black and white shirt (and by
jingo he looked good in it.) Yet he’d been packed off along with the likes
of Steve Watson, to be replaced by plainly unsuitable imports like Guivarc’h
and Charvet – of which more in part two of this article.
We packed Stephane off to Rangers and allegedly recouped our dosh while he won
some silverware, but he seemed no happier and ultimately twisted his face
until the Gers let him return home to Auxerre.
History may have been
against Guivarc’h, but like many of his compatriots who filled their wallets
at our club, he could at least have raised a gallop before hoisting the white
Tune in next time as we reach C in our Gallic rollcall – C being for Charvet….and
cowards. Au Revoir, as they say in Shilbottle.
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