last season ended on a winning note for United's U17 side the club's junior
sides have continued to collect silverware, both on a team and individual
Having ended the Irvine era in style with two-legged playoff success over
Manchester United, within a matter of days the lads were at it again, this
time under the direction of new supremo Kenny Wharton.
The occasion was the twelve-team Euro Voetbal final held in the Dutch city of
Groningen, and appropriately enough the young Magpies defeated domestic
opposition in the form of FC Twente Enschede, to take the trophy.
Catching the headlines was striker Michael Chopra, who followed up a two goal
semi final salvo against Anderlecht with three memorable final strikes. His
first had Wharton applauding wildly as Chops rolled the ball into an empty net
from an improbable angle, while his other two were laid on by strike partner
Richard Offiong but both finished in style.
Chops then unselfishly returned the compliment to allow Offy to get on the
scoresheet and seal a comprehensive 4:0 victory, despite the fact he himself
only needed one more goal to claim the tournament top scorer award. As it was
he shared that honour with Rafael of Ajax, who also hit seven goals.
To the applause of the 2,000 plus crowd at the Esserberg Stadium (home of the
amusingly named GSV Be Quick side), the toon boys picked up the trophy and
Beardo gave a little speech expressing the hope that the lads would return to
defend their title in 2003.
More success was just around the corner however, with Newcastle's England U17
captain, Steven Taylor leading the young Lions to victory in the Nationwide
Tournament Trophy in early July.
In front of healthy crowds at both venues of St.Andrew's (Birmingham) and the
Kassam Stadium (Oxford), Taylor captained his charges to a 2:2 draw with Italy
and a 2:0 victory over the Czech Republic to set up a final date with Brazil.
An early goal for
the English boded well, but after a strong response from the Brazilans led to
an equaliser, Taylor marshalled his defence and held on for the draw that
confirmed the hosts as tournament victors. Sky TV viewers were then treated to
the comparatively rare sight of seeing a Newcastle captain lift a trophy and
lead a lap of honour.
However, it's not just
Taylor who has been representing his country in recent weeks. The European U19
championships in Switzerland also saw toon involvement, with Chopra and
Jermaine Jenas appearing for England and midfielder Stephen Brennan wearing
the colours of the Republic of Ireland.
Brennan it was who had the more memorable tournament, as Ireland began their
campaign with a 2:1 success against Belgium before finding themselves on the
wrong end of a 0:3 reverse against Germany.
A fine effort to then
turn a 0:2 deficit into a 3:2 victory against England wasn't enough to stake a
final place, and Brennan sat this one out as other squad players were given a
run. He was back in for the
3rd/4th place playoff against Slovakia though and made his mark soon after the
A long-range effort
gave Ireland the lead on 53 minutes, only for similar strikes from distance to
turn the match round in favour of the Slovakians. Ireland poured forward
in the closing stages, but couldn't find an equaliser.
Bringing events up to
date, United defender Ben Webster is part of the England U17 squad currently
in Sweden, where they face games against the host nation as well as Noway and
the Faroe Islands.
Finally for now on the
International scene, it's been confirmed that youth football will make a
return to St.James' Park later this year, when the England U20 side entertain
their Italian counterparts on Wednesday November 27th. With both
Jenas and Chopra likely to feature, another big crowd is expected.
Although United's first
team are now using the new training facilities at Darsley Park, construction
continues at the adjacent site of the new Academy and pre-season training for
the youngsters has been staged at alternative venues.
A temporary base has been established at Killingworth, while other familiar
venues have played host to warm up matches. Once again a young Newcastle side
composed largely of schoolboys travelled to Keele University, while the Sage
Tournament at Durham's Houghall College also provided some useful opposition
for an older United side.
A 2:1 victory in the final of the Sage event against Celtic came courtesy of
two Tommy English strikes, coming after wins over Darlington (5:0) and
The Keele event has now become a regular fixture on our pre-season calendar,
and consists of a series of 60 minute matches against other top sides, with
rolling substitutes allowable and no eventual winning team.
United started poorly this time out against a powerful Bolton side and were
deservedly beaten. An improvement followed in their next game against
Southampton where they were unfortunate to slip to defeat, but they then took
advantage of a weak display by Swedish side Sunsdvall, powering to a 7:1 win.
In their final game Newcastle came up against German side Arminia Bielefeld,
and in a typically hard-fought game against the "old enemy" managed
to claim a 1:0 win.
One unfamiliar name from our line up who impressed those watching was central
midfielder Daryl Smillie, another member of the increasing Irish contingent at
the club. Along with fellow midfielder Matthew Pattison, he was adjudged our
best performer, and in the case of Pattison it was enough to earn him a place
in the Newcastle party that jetted off to exotic climes a few days later.
While the mooted first team tour to China is still to become a reality, a
Newcastle academy is due to meet our new pals from Dalian in early August as
part of a gruelling tour of the Far East and Australia.
Newcastle are participating in a new high-profile youth competition out in
Adelaide, along with teams from Ajax, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Rangers. The
Festival Cup runs from August 4th for a week and takes place at the
new 20,000 capacity Hindmarsh Stadium, providing a rare chance for exiled Mags
down under to cheer on the black and whites in their own country.
With striker Lewis Guy
sidelined through injury, the following 18 man squad jetted off on what
promises to be a memorable trip: Adam Collin, Adam Bartlett, Chris Shanks,
Kris Gate, Martin Brittain, Steven Taylor, Chris Carr, Peter Ramage, Andrew
Ferrell, Ross Gardner, Neale McDermott, Chris Moore, Matthew Pattison, James
Beaumont, Alan O'Brien, Guy Bates, Michael Chopra, and Richard Offiong.
After the Festival Cup ends, the squad then play matches in both Hong Kong and
China, and are expected to draw big crowds as their games precede domestic
The lads then return to
the UK on August 22nd to prepare for the new season.
is still awaited of where home games will be played until the new Academy
pitches are ready, both the U17 and U19 sides begin their league campaigns
with home matches against Wolves on Saturday 24th August.
Keep abreast with the progress of our young hopefuls this season on NUFC.com,
and try to make to make time to see the next generation of potential local
heroes in action.
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