Blackpool and Newcastle fans shared the genius of two outstanding footballers

Posted on September 16th, 2009 | 27 Comments |

Genius at work
Genius at work
Tonight’s game will have it’s own characters bedecked in the famous black and white, and tangerine shirts of Newcastle United and Blackpool football clubs. And those players will hope to make an impression upon their adoring fans. However, previous eras were lucky enough to see two particular individuals who stood out for their footballing brilliance both at St James’ and Bloomfield Road.

Mention the names Tony Green and the late Alan Suddick, and it will evoke fond memories for all those fans who were able to watch them in their respective colours. Both players were blessed with a natural flair and a natural hunger for the game that few are fortunate to be born with. Of course, I’m not actually old enough to know their playing days first-hand, but my dad has long been singing the praises of these two men and I would challenge you to find an article or book written that looks upon these two as anything other than favourably.

Tony Green –

My dad said if he had to compare Tony Green it would be almost impossible but that if he could combine talents that I could relate to, then he was a mix of David McCreery’s tenacity, Rob Lee’s driving ability and Beardsley’s subtletly and brilliance. Which kind of paints a fairly vivid picture of the ideal footballer. And that’s essentially what my dad regarded him as.

Having begun his career at Albion Rovers, in his native Scotland, Green was transferred to Blackpool in 1966 for £13,000, where his ability shone like a beacon. Newcastle were able to prise him away from Bloomfield Road in a part-exchange deal worth Keith Dyson and £150,000 and he immediately made an impression on the St James’ crowds.

Fans of the era, consider him one of the most ‘complete’ footballers you could imagine and his appearance was worth the entry fee alone. A travesty then, that his career was cut brutally short by a cartilage injury in the peak of his playing days at 26. Joe Harvey was quoted as describing the untimely end to Green’s career as his saddest day in football. The fact that the man played less than a half century of games in black and white and yet is admired so widely is quite extraordinary.

Alan Suddick –

I had the privilege of meeting and getting to know Alan through amateur football, when he would come and watch his lads play in our team. He was a great bloke with a laidback approach to life and a lovely, dry sense of humour.

But he was also a tremendous footballer and, in fact, Bob Moncur was quoted in his autobiography as saying that Suddick had “as much natural ability as George Best” and suggested that he was one of the best English players never to have won a senior cap. It’s written that Suddick never fulfilled his potential because he was gifted with extravagant ability and a style which did not suit the brand of football being introduced at the time. Though he was a committed player, the emphasis was more on brawns than brains.

“Suddy” began his Newcastle career at the age of 17 (youngest-ever player at the time for the club) as Newcastle won promotion back to the First Division in ’64/65 as champions of the Second. Suddick almost fell out with Harvey over his desire to play more centrally at a time when United flirted with relegation in their struggle to get to grips with the top flight. However despite knuckling down and helping the club avoid the drop, Alan fell victim to wholesale changes the following season and was transferred to Blackpool for £63,000.

Suddick couldn’t have made a better start, finishing as the club’s top goalscorer in his first full season, and later played in every match as Blackpool won promotion to the First Division. Despite his big impact, Suddick suffered injury setbacks and was eventually sold to Stoke City but remained a crowd favourite with the Blackpool faithful. After spells in non-league and coaching, he retired in Blackpool, and was inducted into the club’s hall of fame when it was launched in 2006.

Sadly, it was revealed that Alan was suffering from cancer, and underwent several operations. He finally succumbed to the illness and died peacefully in his sleep in hospital on 16th March this year, at the age of 64, with members of his family present.

My dad found it difficult to make a suitable comparison to Alan with any modern day footballer, which I guess in itself is a pretty nice compliment.

In times when we’re undoubtedly relying on ‘bollocks’ rather than ‘brilliance’, it’s perhaps worth remembering that Blackpool and Newcastle were privileged to have seen the genius of Tony Green and Alan Suddick, who had quite a bit of both. I only wish I’d been there.

NUFCBlog Author: bowburnmag bowburnmag has written 234 articles on this blog.

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27 Responses

  1. I seen both Alan Suddick & Tony Green & I have to say that your Dad is spot on Suddick was brilliant if a little to laid back & maybe could have played for England if he’d gone to a bigger club. As for Tony Green he is one of the best players I’ve ever seen and the best I’ve ever played with (in a charity match in Newcastle in 1980 after he had retired), I believe Newcastle would have won the cup if he hadn’t retired due to injury.

  2. BBM – How do you post pictures in articles? I’ve just posted an article, probably not one you’ll agree with, and I couldn’t work out how to get a picture into it.

  3. Bowburn i thought the article on the east Stand Kenny Everett was the pinnacle of nostalgic toon writing, but you’ve outdone yourself with this article… but no mention of Tony Cunningham!

  4. Micky Toon says:
    September 16, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    “BBM – How do you post pictures in articles?”

    Top of the editing window, ‘Upload / Insert’. The first little box next to that, Micky. The square with another square inside.

  5. Pelvis – Howay now! Big Tony C deserves an article all to himself, and I’m old enough to remember watching that useless **** so it will be mostly first-hand.

  6. worky – I know Excelsior had issues yesterday. I thought it was permissions but it might be a browser issue? He showed me a screenshot and all that.

  7. Both excellent players. Tony Green was my favourite though, shame he was out of the game so early. The Beadsley comparisons ring true.

  8. Bowburn,

    Send me an e.mail with all the info including the screenshot. I’ve looked at it and it seems to be fine, probably a local issue. Let’s not have a long string of techie editing messages on here though! :-)

  9. Micky Toon says:
    September 16, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    “Ahh, doesn’t look like I have the rights to do it. Fair enough.”

    You do now, Micky. No more techie messages on here though! Send an e.mail if you’re having problems.

  10. I remember reading about one of Sudds’ goals in The Chronicle. It was like top 10 goals at St James’ or something. I asked him about it one afternoon and he said “ah I just managed to catch it nicely really and it ended up stuck in the stanchion”.

    Like they do.

    I also didn’t mention that popular story where he pulled someone’s shorts down, while he was in the wall at a free kick.

  11. nufcbb says:
    September 16, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    “It would be good to have a “legends” section on this blog.”

    Been planning that for a while now, nufcbb.

  12. MT – that is some blasphemy you are about to get published. And I thought we were kindred spirits, you and I. You’ll definitely be buying the beers for that. 8O

  13. I was just too young to see Alan Suddick play more than a few time but remember the outrage that his sale provoked. My Dad was a big fan.
    Tony Green was, quite simply, the most exciting player that I have ever seen. I remember when he was signed (not in the same week as Supermac as someone has said but within a year). I was a young lad living in Yorkshire and travelled up for his home league debut. Twice in the first half he went on mazy but lightning quick runs from our half and shot from the edge of the area. One hit the bar and the other went in the top corner. The crowd fell in love with him so quickly that when he went on another run and crossed for Supermac to power in a great header the chant from everyone was Whoagh Tony, Tony —-Tony, Tony, Tony Tony Tony Green. Can you imagine Shearer scoring a trademark goal and the crowd cheering someone else?

    Sorry to get misty-eyed but the boy was special. Suddick and Green also sum up in a way the roller coaster ride that the club has given us over the years. Alan Suddick was probably the first of the big “the club has no ambition” departures. Followed by Bryan Robson, Supermac, Beardsley, Waddle, Gazza etc. When we signed Tony Green we had two of the three most expensive players in the league.

    Howay the lads

  14. Bannerman says:
    September 16, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    “Alan Suddick was probably the first of the big “the club has no ambition” departures. Followed by Bryan Robson, Supermac, Beardsley, Waddle, Gazza etc. When we signed Tony Green we had two of the three most expensive players in the league. ”

    I know what you’re saying there, Bannerman, but some might say we were in the habit of cashing in on our best players long before that. There was Gallacher way back in 1930, Robledo in the 50s, Stubbins and many others.