No North-East Hotbed? Let Us Explain Why

Last updated : 12 February 2007 By Footy Mad - Editor

"It was 17 years ago when the Geordie trio formed the backbone of England's attack in the 1990 World Cup squad. Along with the County Durham-born Robsons, Sir Bobby and Bryan, England truly was a north-eastern affair. But what has gone wrong since? Where are the new Geordie heroes in the current squad? In a special feature for BBC's Inside Out, ex-Newcastle United striker Joe Allon examines the demise of the north east footballer.

Allon: "For decades English football's beating heart belonged in the north east. But look at the England team today. It's virtually a Geordie-free zone. Why?
"At the heart of the issue is participation. The more people who play the game at grassroots level, the better the chance of creating more stars.

"I owe a lot to Wallsend. Boys clubs are the main route into football. Academies are great, but this is the place where kids get started in the game!"
"We need to ensure that more people take up the game at grassroots level, the traditional breeding ground. If we get that right, then we can be a hotbed again. I feel the game is in good heart, but if we are going to be great again, then we have to be patient."
NEWCASTLEUTD-MAD: The fact of the matter is simple. When Waddle, Beardsley and Gazza dazzled the Geordie nation with their skill, there was not one single foreign player in the team. From Dutchman Franz Koenan in 1982 to Mirandinha in 1987, no foreign player played for Newcastle United.

Today (disregarding the Irish) we have 14 foreign players in United's first team squad: Srnicek, Krul, Moore, Bernard, Onyewu, Edgar, Babayaro, Solano, Emre, N'Zogbia, Pattison, Sibierski, Martins and Luque.

Have we gained from bringing in the foreign brigade? In many ways "yes", but millions have been wasted on players who have been no better than the home grown players on the books. It seems if you come from Brazil you MUST be good, so enter Fumaca. Yep ... what a disaster HE was. Andersson, Guivar'ch, Georgiadis, Maric, Marcelino, Karelse, Gavilan, Viana. And how much was wasted on them?

No Geordies coming through? Perhaps they aren't given a chance.

Joe Allen (who wrote the Sky article) came through the Newcastle ranks and at least was given a chance. He wasn't that good ... but ... he was given the chance. That is the difference.