Harpers Big night at SJP – offers some light relief

Can I just say how much I am looking forward to going to Steve Harpers testimonial on Wednesday night?

Revolution, may well be the topic on every fans lips, as we see burning torches and pitch forks at the ready to chase the monster from the castle on the hill. B+Q’s gardening department must be clicking record numbers! But I would like to talk about something positive.

Wednesday sees a player who probably underachieved in his career by staying loyal to the club for so, so many years. Some saw his long stint, mainly warming the SJP bench, as a lack of ambition. I think that this is very harsh. It was often said that as a pair Steve Harper and of course Shay Given were the best keeper two in the country, and I totally believe that was the case.

Shay Given at times in our net was super-human almost, Christ he got enough practice! For that reason, Steve found his chances limited. Whenever he did play, he never let anybody down, far from it. Any other time at the club, would have seen him rack up hundreds of appearances. So really he can count himself a tad unfortunate as to having the mighty Shay in his way.

His time at the club shows fantastic loyalty, and we are rightly paying our respects to a great servant. A very good professional, with a fantastic attitude.

Unlike testimonials gone by, I think as many are being drawn to the game, not just for Stevie, but also the players turning out for the Newcastle/Harper XI and the opposition – the legendary AC Milan Team of the early 90’s.

I cannot wait to see them on the pitch, and the feel good factor of a game where we can show the world how GREAT our football club is and the fantastic fans we have. A breather from the actual reality of the current plight is a relief.

That amazing AC team was just ridiculously good. I think most fans remember watching them on Channel 4 back then. I definitely did, getting right into Serie A, especially once Gazza set off for Rome, turning out for Lazio (when his leg wasn’t bust!). I was an avid follower, watching the Saturday Morning show and the Sunday dinner time games.

The Italian top-flight at that time, was kind of what we think the Premier League is now. Star studded and the pinnacle of football. Money was awash and all the cream of European football flocked there.

Van Basten, Gullit, Papin, Rijkaard, Lentini, Albertini, Maldini, Baresi – the list goes on. What unbelievable talent they had. Easy to lure them when the Italian dodge pot Silvio Berlusconi was bank rolling them, but never the less it was a purple period for them. League title Scudetto’s were trousered along with European cups and Super Cups. Quite brilliant.

Baresi has apparently been immersing himself for a fortnights training in Long Bar, Quayside. Why not eh Franco? Probably the best Centre Half I have ever seen play, never quick but read everything and snuffed everything out. No doubt using some cynical Italian tricks along the way!

To see them line up in this game, and face off with our own Captain fantastic in Big Alan Shearer, is just great. The clock has probably not done any of the past heroes any favour’s, but who hasn’t aged a little in the last 20 years? Maldini probably still looks the same – the swine!

So, all in all it is looking like it’s going to be a great send off. All for a tenner!

Well done Steve Harper, thank you from us all. Though a word now – if you end up in nets against the lads for Hull, I hope we stuff you and you have a nightmare!!

So long Stevie my good man

So long Stevie my good man

Keep smiling, Wednesday should be easier than usual!



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