Unacceptable in the ’80s: how Newcastle United went from Waddle, Beardsley and Gascoigne to the brink of third

Chris Waddle, Peter Beardsley, Paul Gascoigne. Three of the most entertaining, iconic and skillful footballers Britain has ever produced.

Each born a few miles from the River Tyne. Once in a generation, players who have all matured in the same decade.

All three played for Newcastle in the 1980s, but for Newcastle fans it has been a decade dominated by gloom, save for the occasional Rainbow.

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There were eight seasons between Kevin Keegan’s departure as a player in the Inky Skies over St. James’ Park via a helicopter in 1984, to his triumphant return as manager in 1992. That period is precisely what we cover in the last episode of our Podcast Chronicle.

This special series on the EIBW Podcast covers the entire history of Newcastle United in chronological order, and after listening to this particular episode, it’s hard not to wonder “what if”.

Waddle, Beardsley and Gascoigne have racked up 186 caps in England, but only 30 of them have been won as Newcastle players.

Chris Waddle, Paul Gascoigne and Peter Beardsley lining up for England at the Italy 90 World Cup

All three have probably been moved because of the lack of direction of the club, the lack of ambition, ”said Marc Corby, our special guest in this week’s episode. Marc has been a lifelong United fan, a Supporters Trust board member and fanzine contributor. He was also an expert on all things NUFC between the years 1980 to 1994.

“We might have had a new stand in the late 80s, but ultimately, as Kevin Keegan once said: ‘The stands don’t win you football games, they’re good footballers. “We just kept selling our best players.”

Waddle went first in July 1985. ” He never looked like an athlete, “admits official Newcastle club historian Paul Joannou, speaking as co-host of the historic series Build. But Arthur Cox and Kevin Keegan played roles. huge in his transformation into a top player. “

“He stood out at the 1986 World Cup,” Corby remembers. “He continued to be fantastic for every club he served, even when he returned to St. James’ Park with Sheffield on Wednesday in the 90s and John Beresford was unlucky to score him. – to be won 4-2 that night, but Chris Waddle was amazing. “

Tottenham paid a significant sum for his services, £ 590,000, and he took it to another level in 1989 when he signed for Marseille. The French club were considered one of the best in the world at the time and reached the European Cup final in 1991 with Waddle in the squad.

History repeated itself two years after Waddle left Tyneside when Peter Beardsley left after Newcastle finished in 1986-87 in a disappointing 17th in Division One.

He had it all, “said Paul Joannou, discussing Beardsley during the podcast.” Work ethic, pace, vision, especially the talent on the ball when it comes to creating and scoring goals. Of those goals over the years, many were spectacular efforts and eye-catching moves. But Liverpool came calling in July 1987, £ 1.5million, a record sale. “

“He left a mediocre to average team, “Corby admits,” he went to play with the best in the country at John Barnes, Aldridge, Rush. “

In the summer of 1987, the club tried to appease the supporters with a mini spending spree. Glyn Hodges and John Robertson arrived at a heavy cost, unfortunately neither was successful. In the summer of 1988 sthe fan’s disappointment had turned to disbelief.

At the end of the season, Paul Gascoigne would follow Chris Waddle and Peter Beardsley out of St. James’ Park, “Joannou explained.” Fans were stunned to have lost first Waddle, then Beardsley and now Paul Gascoigne who became a huge Star. “

The fees Tottenham paid for Gascoigne were huge at the time, £ 4.68million (plus, famously, a sunbed for Gazza’s sister), but Newcastle fans missed the fun side.


They had lost one of the best natural players to ever wear black and white stripes.

He had a special talent, ”recalls Joannou. “Skills to match the best, great vision with the ball, he could do short or long passes, he could shoot and dribble through defenders and he was strong with the ball and had an entertainment mark. .

“Really, he looked a bit like Len Shackleton from previous years. He was an artist and also loved to perform in front of a crowd. He became the biggest personality in the country around that time.”

“We ended up spending a hell of a lot of that money in the summer of 1988,” Corby recalls. “We had one of the most expensive teams. I think the disappointment of losing these three quality players subsided a bit as we ended up buying what we thought were good prospects.

“We spent the money for once. I really felt like we were going to build and improve.”

Waddle, Beardsley, Gascoigne – Three of the most talented Geordies to play football

The first season without Gascoigne, Beardsley or Waddle saw Newcastle finish at the bottom of Division One.

The trio shared the pitch as Newcastle players only once: on May 6, 1985, a 3-2 home loss to Tottenham which left Newcastle 13th in the table. At the time, Waddle and Beardsley were full-fledged internationals in England, but Gazza, 17, was still a youth team player.

He replaced David McCreery that day and for a brief period 29,652 St. James’ Park supporters watched three of the most talented Geordies play football on the same team.

Four days later, Gascoigne scored a 30-yard goal in the second leg of the FA Youth Cup final to help Newcastle beat the Watford junior team and win the final 4-1 on aggregate.

Maurice Setters, then Newcastle’s deputy manager, said at the time, referring to the goal: “You will have to wait a thousand years to see this again”.

How long will fans have to wait to see an era produce three players like Waddle, Beardsley and Gascoigne?

What could have happened if the line stayed and played regularly for Newcastle’s first team? LOGIN and leave your comment below