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

Having already quizzed our resident ex-toon insider about games against Charlton, we took a different tack this time and talked about players who served both clubs.

You'll be delighted to know that we managed to get that magical charlton v mackems playoff game into the conversation....  

John Beresford discusses Magpie connections with Charlton:

First off we asked Bez about Charlton's current former Mag, Andy Hunt

Andy was only around for about nine months after I arrived but he was one of those that I'd call a typical "social footballer". By that I mean he liked the nightlife that goes with the territory. He and Robbie Elliott were keen on their music but it wasn't the mainstream poppy stuff, more the obscure rave scene. They used to go to a place down by Tyne Tees studios [we reckon The Riverside] a lot and I went with them once but it wasn't quite my sort of thing. As a footballer, Andy had talent but I think he realised that he was always going to be on the fringe of things at Newcastle. Perhaps he didn't go in where it hurts enough but I think in the end a big club like Newcastle just wasn't really suited to Andy.

Avoiding the words "turnstile operator" like the plague, we asked John one or two things about his big pal and former Addick, Rob Lee. First off the memorable hat-trick in Antwerp.

This was the first European game for a lot of us and all week so-called experts had been going on about how we couldn't go out and blitz them and that we should just try and stay in the tie and then finish the job at St.James'. Keegan told us to forget all that crap and just go out and play our usual game. Just because it was Europe we shouldn't change the way we played and he wanted us to finish the job that night in Belgium. In the first minute I crossed for Rob who headed it in for the first of his hat-trick. It was an unbelievable night for all of us but in particular for Philippe Albert who had taken a lot of stick from the Belgians because he used to play for Antwerp's rivals, Anderlecht. Their fans had been allowed into our training session and they gave him a really hard time (which we thought was hilarious) but obviously Philippe had the last laugh and he loved it after the game, banging on the windows of the team bus at the crowd as we drove away.

We also mentioned Rob's England debut against Romania in which he scored.

That was typical of "golden balls", scoring on his England debut but for me and the rest of the team it was great to see one of us doing it for England at Wembley. I'd been sub for England not long before that out in Turkey but I can't imagine what it must have been like to play at Wembley... and to also score. I watched it on the telly - it was always difficult to actually go to England games because of training for Newcastle - although I did go and see Steve Howey's England debut.

From one of the darkest corners of our minds we also dug up Peter Garland who left United in December 1992 to join Charlton. However, like us, John had little or no memories of him (he only made two sub appearances for us). Instead we took the opportunity to mention one of our favourite games - Charlton's Wembley play-off penalty victory over the mackems.

We didn't see the Sunderland lads after that game, so we couldn't really take the mickey. Even if we had seen them there wasn't exactly much rivalry between the players - the fact that we were in different leagues seemed to lessen that, although I'd often have a dig at Kevin Ball but that was because we were old mates from our days at Portsmouth. We did bump into them at a Sports Writer's dinner once and I remember Michael Gray being absolutely smashed but actually being quite funny with it. He really wound up Philippe Albert by calling him "Pav" all night.

Another of the mackem side who lost to Charlton at Wembley was, of course, our very own Lee Clark. Clarkie was recently interviewed by the Sunday Times (see the full interview here) and mentioned an incident when he swung a punch at a team mate. We asked John if he could recall which one.

Well, it could be one of two incidents that I know of. One was when Clarkie squared up to Pav before I arrived at the club. As a sort of warning Pav did a karate kick above Lee's head at which point he apologised.... The other one was probably my fault. Clarkie's language was pretty strong most of the time - I think every other word began with f - and I bet him once that he couldn't go a whole training session without swearing. He took up the challenge and some of the other lads also put up some cash. You could tell he had to really concentrate not to swear and he didn't seem to be able to get his mind onto the training.

Halfway through the session Benny Kristensen clattered him from behind and Clarkie got up fuming. "Now, now, no swearing Clarkie," I shouted at him as he hobbled away mumbling to himself. Someone gave the ball to him again and Benny flew straight into the back of him again, this time it was like a volcano erupting - he went ballistic and as he got up he lashed out at Benny and cracked him one in the mouth. Almost straight away he realised what he'd done and said sorry but we were howling and getting ready to collect our winnings. Keegan wasn't impressed, although after we explained things he understood but I think Clarkie got a roasting about keeping his temper. You could understand it, the lad was desperate to play for Newcastle and he'd been pulled out of the team by Keegan almost as soon as he'd got in it.

There was another time when he squared up to me after I'd beaten him by juggling the ball past him. I hadn't intended to take the piss, I'd just needed an extra touch or two to get it under control. Again, I don't think it was long after Keegan had told him he could go if he wanted and he was really frustrated. We had words at the time but Clarkie rang me up not long after and apologised. He was just one of those with a short fuse, although to be fair he never really lost it on the pitch very often.

Niall MacKenzie

Page last updated 24 June, 2009