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Magical Magpie legends: Shay Given (part two)

Posted on June 22nd, 2011 | 49 Comments |

Shay Given v Feyenoord - 2002.
Shay celebrates our 3-2 win at Feyenoord.
<< Part onePart three >>.
Part two: Shay celebrates his 300th game!

As Given’s first 5 years at Newcastle came to an end, the 2002-2003 season began with United qualifying for the Champion’s League first group stage after a comfortable 5-0 aggregate win over Bosnia and Herzegovina’s FK Željezničar.

At the season’s start, Sir Bobby Robson had decided that he was going to alternate Given with Steve Harper for our European matches, a decision which did not bode to well with the Irishman:

“Personally I’m not adjusting very well to being in and out every week, I’d rather play in every game. But I’m not the manager and I don’t pick the team. It’s his decision, but I was very disappointed when I first found out. Hopefully he won’t do it too often. I don’t think you can keep alternating between the keepers for very long, but I don’t know what will happen.

“Personally I prefer to play every game. I don’t agree with all the chopping and changing. I don’t think it’s right. It’s unrest for myself, the team and Steve because it’s also hard for him just coming in for a couple of games.”

Nevertheless Given amassed 12 European appearances including our ‘great escape’ in Rotterdam, to go along with another season in which he played every Premier League game. On April 30th Given won his 41st International cap as a Newcastle player meaning he surpassed Alf McMichael to become United’s all time most capped player while playing for the club.

“I am a very proud man.” – Shay Given on becoming Newcastle United’s most capped player.

The end of the 2002-03 season saw United finish in 3rd place, qualifying for the Champions League preliminary stage for the 2nd consecutive year. Newcastle had throughout the season challenged for the title but fell short towards the end.

“The fans have had to wait far too long for success and I’m sure they’re fed up. We haven’t won anything and when you look at the money spent, the size of our stadium and the backing from the fans, it just isn’t good enough. As a professional you play to win trophies and I’m disappointed that another season passed by with us empty-handed. It’s not a nice feeling.”Shay commenting on another season without a trophy.

The 2003-04 season saw United start by failing to qualify for the Champions League group stage after defeat to Partizan Belgrade. Newcastle had won the 1st leg 1-0, largely thanks to some heroics by Given in Serbia, but lost the 2nd leg 1-0 at St James’ Park, meaning a penalty shoot-out would ensue.

The shoot-out began with Shearer blasting over, and Dyer along with Woodgate having their penalties saved. Shola Ameobi along with Lomana LuaLua, managed to convert during the shoot-out and Given also saved one, coupled with a few Belgrade players also missing the target. Eventually it was Aaron Hughes who missed for United, and Cirvovic stepped up to fire Belgrade into the Champion’s League group stage, winning the match 4-3 on penalties.

Failing to qualify for the Champions League that year meant Given and Newcastle competing in the UEFA Cup (Europa League), where United got to the semi-finals. A Didier Drogba double did the damage for Marseille at the Stade Vélodrome, in a 2nd leg 2-0 victory, after a stalemate at James’ Park in the 1st leg. Newcastle suffered with massive injury problems, causing Sir Bobby Robson to field a weakened team that night, citing Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger to speak publicly about how unfortunate our injury list was, and that his own Arsenal side would have struggled if they had the same amount of key players missing. Given totalled 13 European matches along with appearing again in every Premier League game that season. Newcastle’s injury problems that season also saw Given comment in March:

“If we want to try to run it close in the Premiership, which has got to be the aim, we have to buy players in the summer. It is already a good bunch of players but so are Arsenal’s and Chelsea’s and Manchester United’s and they have still strengthened and brought people in. If you don’t you get left behind. That is why those three are so far ahead of us. It is no guarantee because over the last 10 years this club has probably spent more than anyone. So you can’t blame the chairman or the board for not being there to back the manager.”

The 2003-04 season was the 3rd consecutive year Given had appeared in every Premier League match meaning he became number one in the official Premier League consecutive appearance list. The record is now held by American ‘keeper Brad Friedel. Newcastle finished the season in 5th position qualifying for the UEFA Cup.

“With Shay, you can never rule him out. Shay could even grow another muscle by Thursday and recover – he has done things like that in the past. They don’t call him Lazarus for no reason” Fellow goalkeeper and former team-mate Steve Harper.

In what Shay probably perceived at the time to be his most tumultuous season since he arrived in 1997, the start of the 2004-05 season saw Sir Bobby Robson sacked by decision making genius, Freddy Shepherd, and ‘Disciplinarian’ Graeme Souness was appointed as manager to “bang some heads together” as the manager himself put it..

Commenting on Graeme Souness, Given stated in September 2004:

“It’s been so far so good. Actually it’s been really good. Training’s been good. Everything’s being going really well. It’s up to everyone to impress the new manager and show their ability.

“It’s a fresh start for us all. We’ve all been given a clean slate and it’s up to us to show we’re good enough to be in the team.”

However, after Newcastle’s league form began to stutter, Given voiced his concern in December:

“The fans aren’t happy and they have every right not to be. We’ve not been doing well enough this season or towards the end of last season’s campaign.”

And in February:

“It’s just doing my head in. We should be talking about the football and not about other things. We are a football club. You don’t hear stories like that coming out of Arsenal or Manchester United or even Chelsea – they are totally football stories.

“We must stop the bad press and try to focus totally on success on the pitch. You can’t follow every player everywhere they go, but every player has got to stand up and be responsible for what they do. It is difficult. Some of the lads are young and don’t know any better to a certain degree, but we all make mistakes in life, so it is important that we look forward rather than back.” – Shay Given on all the bad publicity that the club seems to generate.”  (February 2005)

This of course was also the same season in which Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer started fighting with each other in a match against Aston Villa at St James’ Park.

Newcastle clearly ‘improved’ on their previous 4th, 3rd, and 5th placed finishes in the Premier League by finishing the season in 14th (lowest Premier League finishing position at the time). Given finished with 36 league appearances but before the seasons end, some more notable developments occurred…

In a home match with Israeli side Bnei Sakhnin on the 16th of September 2004, Shay overtook Alan Shearer as having the most European appearances in Newcastle’s history. It was Given’s 40th European appearance. On November 25th in a 4-0 away victory in France against Sochaux, Given reached his 300th game for Newcastle. On this the ‘keeper said:

“It’s great that I’ve played so many games for such a good club and hopefully there’ll be 300 more. You just don’t know. I suppose the two FA Cup semi-finals stick out and Barcelona a few years back when we beat them at home – that was a big game in the Champions League. There are some great memories and some great trips in Europe as well. Newcastle have played in Europe most seasons that I’ve been here, so that’s a bonus as well. But we’re still missing that silverware, including myself. I’d really like to win something, and that’s what it boils down to. That’s 300 games and we haven’t won anything – but hopefully I can do that and the team can do that. We’re a big club and we’ve got a great squad of players. All that’s missing really is something that we haven’t won. – Shay Given on passing the magical 300 appearances mark for Newcastle.

Shay Given v Sporting Lisbon.
Given helpless as we self-destruct in Portugal
The season also had Newcastle reach the UEFA Cup quarter finals. The quarter final first leg saw us take a 1-0 advantage to Lisbon, and after leading 1-0 (2-0 on aggregate) in the 2nd leg at half time, we somehow managed to collapse losing the 2nd leg 4-1 (4-2 on aggregate). Given was keeping goal on that disastrous night in Portugal. Sporting Lisbon went on to reach the final where they became victims of a shock 3-1 defeat to CSKA Moscow. Given totalled 12 European games. An F.A. Cup semi-final against Manchester United followed our European exit and once again we lost 4-1 on the day, this time at the Millennium Stadium. Around this time, Given remarked:

“I’m worried about the club’s direction. It is going to be very hard now for the chairman and the manager to attract the necessary quality to a club that is in the InterToto Cup. I truly believed that we could win the Uefa Cup, more so than the FA Cup. I couldn’t speak properly to anyone for days after that, now it looks like Sporting, a team we were capable of beating, are going to win it.

To me the Uefa Cup was Newcastle’s big chance of making the breakthrough and finally winning a trophy.” – Shay on being knocked out of the UEFA and FA Cup (May 2005).

<< Part onePart three >>.

NUFCBlog Author: Jimbob Backpacker extraordinaire and current resident of sunny Sheffield. Loves Marmite, hates peanut butter. Sleeps twice a day, wrestles Polar Bears because he can and regards himself as cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce. Jimbob has written 40 articles on this blog.

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49 Responses

  1. Great post mate, top research man.

    It’s all about Shay when he talks like, those statements just reminded me.

  2. “Personally I’m not adjusting very well to being in and out every week, I’d rather play in every game.”

    I’ll bet he’s just loving it at Man City! :lol:

  3. Sounds like he had a problem with SBR for having the audacity to even consider letting Harper have the odd euro game. He sounds quite perky about sourpuss coming in to, until it all gans sooth though.

  4. It’s a great series of blogs so far though. Given was a grest shot stopper and he was at the club a long time after all, and deserves to be known as one of our great players.

    Well done so far Jimbob!

  5. CLiNT FLiCK says:
    June 22, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    “Sounds like he had a problem with SBR for having the audacity to even consider letting Harper have the odd euro game.”

    Not as bad as Keegan’s reaction when SBR dropped him from the England team though Clint. He was still in a sulk about that when they were burying him.

  6. I’m sorry Worky – but i dont regard Given as one of our ‘great players’. in my time watching the Toon (45 years)- he isnt even the best keeper. That is reserved for Pav. I’d rate him just above Mick Mahoney (super goalie la la la la la )!!

  7. Great blog, but it also depresses me.
    It reminded me of how good we once were and how far we have fallen in such a short space of time.

    Shay Given – Tainted Legend.

  8. CLiNT FLiCK says:
    June 22, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    “worky,
    what did kk say about SBR?”

    Well unlike virtually the whole of the rest of the footballing world, he said absolutely f-all when SBR died. The sulk he had when he was dropped is a blog in itself, he never forgave him for it although Robson forgave Keegan.

  9. CLiNT FLiCK says:
    June 22, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    “CH gans to brumington, hey?”

    As I mentioned the other day, Ashley might feel like a bit of an arse if he overtakes us the season after the next one.

  10. worky,
    he’s gonna have to do another excellent job to get brum outta that league first mind mate.

  11. He does have euro football to contend with along the way too.
    Wonder how long a deal he got & his wages?

  12. Congrats on Hughton getting the Brum job. Hope to see him in the Premiership after next season.

  13. Micky Toon says:
    June 22, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    “Great blog, but it also depresses me.
    It reminded me of how good we once were and how far we have fallen in such a short space of time.”

    Tell me about it, Ive obviously written the thing and got all 3 parts in front of me now. Very depressing.

  14. I am sure you will all want to join me in wishing Ed Harrison (NUFCblog.com) all the best in his fight against prostrate cancer. He’s not had the best of news, cancer is the aggressive sort that has spread. But he seem to be up for the fight and I am sure all Newcastle United fans around the globe will be wish him well.

  15. Toonie1949 says:
    June 22, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    “I am sure you will all want to join me in wishing Ed Harrison”

    Aye Toonie, I just noticed that earlier and I was going to write a comment about it until technucal gremlins, and a childish Leeds supporter got in the way.

    Ed’s always been great with myself in his e.mails and he has all my support during what must be a very difficult time. I was going to send him an e.mail later.

  16. Aye I sent him an email earlier (I still post over on Ed’s blog fairly regularly any way) wishing him the best and was about to put a bit on Facebook about it.

  17. Just a small point.

    Prostate – The prostate (from Greek prostates, literally “one who stands before”, “protector”, “guardian”[1]) is a compound tubuloalveolar exocrine gland of the male reproductive system in most mammals unless they have it removed at birth.

    Prostrate – Lying flat or at full length.

    Here’s hoping for a full recovery !

  18. Got a new hat Hugh?

    Sad to here about auld Ed, i’ll have to get over there & wish him all the very best. Poor lad.
    :(

  19. Sometimes i find it difficult to believe how some fans are so meanspirited about former players who had the audacity to leave the club.
    Shay Given and Ronnie Simpson (who?) are the two best goalies to play for this club in the last sixty years.
    NUFC being a selling club @ the time, sold Simpson to Celtic, where his career blossomed gaining even more caps for Scotland.
    But lets face it some either never liked Shay, or have yet to get over the fact he got his ass out of a club in chaos.
    And was more or less like other highly compensated players half pushed out the door.
    Well get over it, just business!

    And Tattyheed
    Obviously y’Kna nowt aboot goalies !

    If i were a manager, i would be happy to have a guy who hated to be substituted, whether he was a goalie or whatever, shows a combatative attitude,unlike Taylor who was apparently happy to collect his wages on the bench.

    And as someone who has beaten Prostate cancer I strongly advise everyone around 50+ years, to have a PSA test, plus an Colonecomy, it’s all about early detection, believe it!

  20. CLiNT FLiCK says: “Got a new hat Hugh?”

    I have actually, although not the one on my icon.

    I have Tilley Hat, which comes with and instruction manual that proves the hat can go through the digestive system of an elephant and still be perfectly okay (after a wash, anyway).

  21. Thankyou chuck, amazing how 12 years service, getting the team out of the shit nearly every game etc means nothing to some.

  22. I think it’s the manner of one’s departure that is the final thought imprint.
    It can leave a nasty taste, that lasts sometimes.

  23. Clint I get ya mate, I hope part three which im just bout to finish gives ya somethin else to ponder though. But yeah, like when you break up from a girlfriend it sometimes gets hard to remember the good stuff, you just focus on negatives. That is human nature.

  24. Oh thanks Hugh, Worky, Clint, Micky Toon and whoever else glad you enjoyed it.

    It drives you abit mad compiling all the info and quotes etc! Once Given is finished ill have a break from profiles for abit!

  25. jimbob,
    aye mate,
    sometimes it’s a mutual parting of the ways & sometimes it’s a natural end.
    But now & then it’s a steady angling away out the door.
    I think that’s how it looked for a lot of fans in this case. If he had kept shtumm in the press & just left people may have thought better of him.

  26. jimbob,
    you’re doing an excellent job mate, great read too.
    Keep up the good stuff mate, it’s appreciated.
    ;)

  27. Clint the comments he says as he left are typical quotes / speculation you tend to hear from anybody being sold by Ashley.

    There in part three to jog memories.

  28. Cheers Clint,

    By the way Ive meaning to ask you but keep forgetting, is your name a homage to an Australian rock band?

  29. Na mate,
    it’s just me being a maverick, recalcitrant, facetious get really.
    & they can’t bust ya’ for it, can they?

    :)

  30. It’s also something of a ‘nom de guerre’ too,
    which i use as one of many for various projects.
    ;)

  31. I do apologise for my rubbish spelling of yesterday’s email/blog in respect of Ed Harrison and prostate cancer, I was not making light of this horrible condition or making any sort of sick joke. The message to Ed remains the same, all the best.

  32. Guys on forums say there is no working roulette system, you can’t beat
    it in the long run, but i’m using bluehand roulette system for
    weeks and it earns me decent money everyday, maybe
    couple of weeks is not a long run, maybe i’m lucky

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