Date: Wednesday 11th September 2013, 7pm
Venue: St.James' Park
Admission: £10 adults, £5 concessions
0 - 0
Half time: United 0 ACMG 0
Full time: United 0 ACMG 0
The shootout (at the Leazes End):
Beardsley saved 0-0
Di Canio scored 0-1
Asprilla saved 0-1 (retaken, saved 0-1)
Costacurta scored 0-2
Harper saved 0-2
Oddo saved 0-2
Thompson scored 1-2
Lorenzini saved 1-2
Barton saved 1-2
two fantastic saves from Rossi and Taibi we might have won the game. Sadly
the Invincibles came out on top of the Entertainers in a very impromptu
"It was brilliant. I cannot thank the fans enough for buying into
the concept of what we wanted to do.
"I cannot thank Milan enough for their help and the lads from my 20
years coming back - the problem was getting them all on the pitch. We
managed to do that and I would to thank every fan.
"I thought the tempo of the game got better as the game went on.
The oldies were not too happy kicking up the hill in the first half!
"It tells me the fans are the best.
"The whole concept we had here, they all bought in to it. When we came
up with the concept of lowering the ticket prices, bringing the kick-off
forward and inviting the players who have shared the last 20 years with me,
we wanted to engage the fans.
"We wanted to use my time served here to get them to come along
and every single penny has gone to charity. I can't thank them enough.
"I was close to checking in to The Priory a few times over the
last few days, but not tears this time. The Foundation have done a great
job. I was determined not to cry.
"The Arsenal game was all about me. Tonight I had 28 other
players in that dressing room, great players coming to this pitch.
"The banter was great in the dressing room. Priceless. John
Beresford was complaining that he was on the overlap and never receiving the
ball from David Ginola. It was just the like olden days.
"Huge credit to him (Paolo Di Canio). One of the
beneficiaries is the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and he would have loved
that - he was a big fan of North East football.
"Paolo came here and played the whole game. It looked like he
enjoyed every minute. He got his penalty and got too close to Joey (Barton)
at one point."
24 hours before the game, an interview with Harper appeared in the
"If the club was a body, the fans are the heart. Itís a clichť,
but the fans do bleed black and white. They are its heartbeat, but the link
between the brain and the heart is no longer there.
"Newcastle are bleeding. If that isnít addressed, if the wound
is not allowed to heal, whatever is special about the club is in danger of
"The fans make the club tick, but they feel detached from it.
Whenever the club has done well over, the fans have been on board. They have
been fully behind their team, their club.
"I think their loyalty has been tested far too often in recent
years. Itís one of the great clubs, but it should be competing amongst the
very best in Europe.
"Itís getting harder and harder to break on to the top table
and opportunities have been missed. We finished fifth a couple of years ago,
but to sustain that you need investment in the team.
"If I had a message to Mike Ashley it would be to engage with the
fans, to repair that relationship. Itís not totally broken, but it
doesnít just need a plaster on it, it needs to be fixed.
"Iíve seen players chewed up and spat out by it. Itís not
just those who go to the game, itís the whole city.
"Everybody knows what is happening at the football club and when
things go badly, they let you know about it. If things go well, itís the
one of most amazing experiences you can have as a footballer playing in
"When there is a good feeling, when the momentum builds, you swim
with the tide and you feel unstoppable. But when things turn sour, when the
club is divided, youíre in a rip tide and itís incredibly hard.
"The fans are demanding, even under Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson,
theyíd get restless if you werenít winning at half-time, but all they
really demand is you put a shift in. They are working class people who want
to see players put in the same shift they do in the week to put money in
"Iíve said to an infinite amount of players when they signed,
just make sure you give everything youíve got. It doesnít matter which
country youíre from, what colour your skin is, they want you to be
committed to the shirt.
"Thatís the minimum they ask for, but you also have to have a
certain character to succeed.
"I think a few players got a shock last season. Itís not only
British players who get this club. Itís not a case of Ďyouíre foreign
and donít understandí. Look at (Fabricio) Coloccini, Jonas (Gutierrez),
they get it the same way Kevin Nolan did.
"Last year was a struggle and whenever you lose home games 0-3 to
Sunderland and 0-6 to Liverpool, itís going to open a few wounds and it
did. It made a few people realise whatís needed to play here. It made a
few players realise the size and the scale of the football club, as well as
the situation we were in.
"I think it was a huge wake-up call for some people. Like others
before them, itís now up to the players who have come in over the last
couple of years to show they can handle the weight of the shirt.
"When youíre here, you have to give 100% to Newcastle United,
not worry about whether you are going to get a move elsewhere.Ē
Post-match player quotes:
Cole (pictured here with Gary Speed's two sons after full time):
"Only three or four teams can win the league and Newcastle used to
be a lot closer to them. Kevin Keeganís team had a fantastic opportunity
but they have gone backwards since then.
"Apathy is something Iíve never associated with Newcastle
United," said Cole. "To be told their biggest crowd of the season
is for a testimonial match is a huge surprise and itís worrying for them.
If youíre not going to put finances into the football team and try to
improve by buying better players, fans are going to vote with their feet.
ďNewcastle have got a decent first choice team, but the game is
about getting injuries and suspensions, players coming in and out of the
side. The best clubs have the best squads. They have competition for places.
"Itís a rock and a hard place at Newcastle at the moment. They
seem to get themselves on the right track and all of a sudden someone here
derails them. The punters were fairly happy a couple of years ago, the team
were moving in the right direction and then decisions are made at the top
which throw a spanner in the works. Itís almost as if somebody running the
club wants to upset the punters and I find that very strange.
"If you keep the punters on board here, itís half the battle.
If you upset them, theyíre going to eventually vote with their feet
because there is only so much they can take."
"It is a bit of a shame to see the club struggling. When you look at
the stadium and fans you realise they deserve some good results. If the club
could get back to having good results again it would be amazing.
"It was great. We spoke in the dressing room together. It was fantastic
in one way but terrible in another. Thatís because we would all like to be
able to do this every week again. We know that itís impossible. If we
could do that more often, that would be interesting. Other teams do it so
why not us?
"We miss the game. The response of the fans was amazing. The
stadium was full and thatís amazing. It was great for Steve Harper. You
have to remember that it was a testimonial, but itís only in a place like
Newcastle where you can find this passion for the game.
ďIt wasnít the Premier League it was a friendly with former
players but the people still come, they are amazing. It was great to see
families there, some of them remember us from the first time. It gives me so
"I got so many messages saying we canít wait to see you back. They
miss us and miss the team. We were sharing these thoughts with the lads and
we all feel very emotional about it.
"Thatís what Newcastle is all about.Ē
Rob Lee (pictured above with the mackem boss):
"I can see where heís coming from. The fans want to see the club
progressing and they want to see the owner spending some money on the team.
That hasnít happened. Iíd like to see them spend it on a few more
British players. Theyíve not got enough in the squad. Theyíve gone too
"Some of the foreign players have been good, but some of them arenít
good enough and there doesnít seem to be any desire to invest in domestic
"Against West Ham, it was 0-0 and I couldnít remember playing in a
0-0. It was flat. The atmosphere was flat, Newcastle teams always attacked
at home. Itís not a case of the club only need a couple of players and
theyíll be very good. Itís more long term than that. There arenít the
kids coming through the academy. Since I left weíve had Steven Taylor,
Andy Carroll and Shola Ameobi.
"They arenít coming. Players donít want to join Newcastle anymore.
Kevin Keegan sold this club to me when I joined. If Joe Kinnear was speaking
to you, are you going to join this football club? Iím not so sure."
"If we can get our best
11 out on to the pitch we can compete with anyone, but if we have one or two
missing we canít.
"In an ideal world Mike Ashley should
step aside, but it isnít an ideal world. Also, if he sold it, you donít know
if youíre going to get something even worse. The likelihood is you are going
to get a foreign owner as there arenít any Geordie billionaires out there. Ē
"That 1996 team which just
missed out on the title may be the best any Newcastle fan sees in his
lifetime. That is why they turned out for this game, because that's an era
that they loved and enjoyed. They enjoyed being entertained and that is
what that team did. It could be a long time before that happens again.
"Yes, I was surprised by the lack of
activity on deadline day because I kept on listening to Alan Pardew saying he
wanted some players and the club were confident of bringing some in. Reading the
lines, I expected a player or two to come in. I haven't got a clue why they
"Is the ambition still there to be a
top six club? I think it takes an incredible amount of money to get there.
You've seen what Spurs have spent, albeit they got it back with Gareth Bale
money, and Newcastle haven't got anything like that. You have seen what Chelsea,
Man City, Man United and Arsenal have spent and Newcastle cannot compete with
them anymore, unfortunately.
"The aim now is to try to win a trophy,
be it the FA Cup or the League Cup, and to stay in the Premier League. It might
be a while before you see Newcastle challenging again for a top four place,
which is a shame because the fans here deserve it."
"I loved it. It was nice coming back, going in the home dressing room
and seeing so many old faces around the place. It was a fantastic
occasion, I'm delighted for Steve, delighted that he asked me, and I was
delighted to accept.
"There were some huge figures from the history of this Club in that
dressing room. I'm not including myself in that because I was only here a
couple of years, but I had a great time and got to know Steve really well.
"It was great to have banter with all the old boys, and they were
calling me the young one! It's nice being in that situation again!
"But being on the same pitch as some of those greats was fantastic
and something I will always treasure.
"A full house was amazing but that just comes as standard at this
place, doesn't it? It shows what Steve means to the people up here and the
city. His loyalty to the club was superb and they have rightly shown their
appreciation for that.
"And when you look at the players who turned out as well, that tells
you what he was thought of by his teammates throughout his career. He is a
captain Paolo Maldini :
"Itís the first time I have ever played here and the fans are
amazing. The stadium at Newcastle is always packed. You always enjoy
playing at grounds like this.
"Newcastle United is such a big
club and deserve to be at the top. I never got the chance to play against
them in my career but heard so much about them. I loved the idea of
"We always enjoy playing
together. It is always an honour pulling on the AC Milan shirt. Iím not
in a perfect shape! But I tried to do well for my team. We always try to
"The main thing was we raised
some money for charity in Newcastle. That for me is the most important
thing. Thatís why we accepted the game. It was the main reason.Ē
Baresi - second-oldest man on the field at the age of 53
(Pietro Vierchowod is 54):
"It was a fantastic night and a fantastic
atmosphere. I want to say thank you to all the fans who filled the
stadium. I was very
happy for Steve. It was a successful event. It was for charity, but we
wanted to play well for the people. We trained hard for this game
"I think Paolo enjoyed the match.
He came even though he knew this wasnít the best stadium for him as
Sunderland are big rivals of Newcastle. Heís a big player and a big man
to play with a smile on his face.Ē
Rolling with the 6.17 crew
was the fourth testimonial game of the Premier League era at SJP,
following games staged in commemoration of Peter Beardsley
(1999), Rob Lee (2001) and Alan Shearer (2006).
2013 participants who featured in the previous trio were as follows:
1999 Beardsley, Beresford, Cole, Peacock, Sellars, Shearer, Srnicek,
(Lee, Stone and Thompson were present but didn't kick a ball)
2001 Bernard, Dabizas, Given, Harper, Solano.
2006 Given, Ferdinand, Harper, Lee, Shearer, Watson.
(Thompson was in the Celtic side)
NB: The 2001 and 2006 games featured many then-current toon players,
making Harper's game the first old boys affair at since 1999. There was
a 2011 reunion when a side overseen by Kevin Keegan and Terry McDermott
played a Liverpool XI at Kingston Park.
Most of tonight's KK era lads featured that day, but dropping out of the
2011 squad were Philippe Albert, Paul Bracewell, Lee Clark, Robbie
Elliott and Steve Howey.
The last farewell
A remarkable turnout of 50,793 were present for
the last hurrah of the Entertainers era at SJP on Wednesday, as Steve Harper
brought down the curtain on his twenty year career as a Magpie.
Sadly for him though, his star-studded cast of former colleagues proved unable
to muster a goal during 80 minutes against their distinguished Italian foes -
and then failed from the penalty spot, leaving the Rossoneri veterans to claim
the match silverware.
In the absence of memorable moments from the black and white old boys who had
assembled, much attention was devoted to a certain 45 year old mackem dweller.
The sprightly Paolo Di Canio played the part of pantomime villain and was booed
throughout the evening, suffering from the attentions of Joey Barton at one
point - to the great delight of those present.
Opting to pass rather than shoot in the first half when presented with sight of
goal, Di Canio did net during the shootout but managed only a low key
celebration when trotting back to the halfway line. Perhaps he was too knackered
to slide along the touchline - or didn't want to get his knees muddy.
Despite a higher average age, the Italians showed the benefits of that
Mediterranean diet and looked leaner and fitter than the black and white old
boys. Of the former heroes on display, both Darren Peacock and Nicos Dabizas
took up where they left off in 1998 and 2004
Andy Cole hit a post, while Alan Thompson and Paul Kitson were both denied by
Massimo Taibi, before the ex Manchester United custodian pulled out all the
stops in the penalty shootout, defying Peter Beardsley, Tino Asprilla (twice,
when his first saved effort was retaken) and Harper himself.
10 year-old James Harper had been able to find the back of the same Leazes End
goal with a half time spot kick during a shootout and although he only had a
mascot clad in a Magpie costume to beat, his dad managed to cannon an effort off
Taibi, who was moving to give Harps a free shot...
Pavel Srnicek then blocked two Milan spot kicks
before finally Alan Thompson cracked his penalty home, but Barton's failure
meant the visitors ended the evening taking the generous applause of the crowd
and parading the trophy.
A handful of very welcome guests donned the black and white in the latter stages
of the contest, with current United coach Steve Stone taking to the field along
with Ed and Tommy Speed - the latter pair representing their much-missed father,
Gary - a magnificent gesture.
The result was immaterial; the tributes to Harps and the players he assembled
heartfelt and the sizeable sum raised of substantial importance to the various
good causes across the region who will benefit as a result. Footfall was the
Above all else though, there was the sense that tonight was about rather more
than the testimonial recipient, whose own personal milestone had allowed a
packed SJP to salute him and a generation of much-loved players.
Thoughts returned to an era when silverware eluded the club, but the glorious
failure to do so resulted in a lifetime of memories over a relatively small
period of time - not just the team who almost won the Premier League, but also
the players behind our Champions League adventure.
We shall not see their like again, unfortunately. The football world is now a
different one and this is a different, inferior Newcastle United that in many
ways has gone full circle from when Harper first signed on the dotted line in
We may be in a stadium that's 50% bigger now and playing in the top flight, but
we're as far off the pace as we were back then: also-rans at best, becalmed and
reliant on looking backwards into our history for comfort. The only thing to
look forward to, the past. High time we had some new heroes.
That we ever flew towards the sun in the 1990s was due to the influence of the man
who wasn't here tonight for political reasons, Kevin Keegan. In 2013 though,
there's no ringmaster - only a circus.
Thanks for the memories Steve - it wouldn't have suited you though, bowing out
clutching a cup.