Thank you very much for Peter Beardsley!

Posted by Marc Duffy

Getty Images Peter Beardsley left Everton after the 1992-93 season and promptly scored 24 goals in 41 matches the following year in his second spell at Newcastle.

Newcastle United and Everton go head-to-head at Goodison Park on Monday night and the prospect of the game makes me think of Peter Beardsley's second spell at his hometown club.

Beardsley left Newcastle for Liverpool in 1987 and later moved on to Everton, but arrived back home on Tyneside at the ripe old age of 32.

Everton believed that an ageing Beardsley's best days were behind him. The Newcastle board shared that belief and Kevin Keegan, who was desperate to sign him, told them that Sunderland were set to sign him in an attempt to push the deal through.

It worked. Beardsley signed for Newcastle for £1.5m on the 16th July 1993.

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Beardsley was incredible. He never seemed to age. In that first season back at Newcastle his forward partnership with Andy Cole took the league by storm. Beardsley played 41 games and scored 24 times. He laid on more than a few for Cole who scored a record 41 goals in his 45 games!

On the 18th December '93 Beardsley and Newcastle won 2-0 at Goodison Park. Beardsley scored the second and the Newcastle fans sang:

"Thank you very much for Peter Beardsley, thank you very much, thank you very, very, very much!"

Beardsley also contributed to one of my own personal favourite footballing memories that season -- I was 15 and made my first trip to White Hart Lane. Newcastle won 2-1 and Beardsley scored both -- the winner coming in the 90th minute after his trademark shimmy and shot.

Beardsley really came into his own in the season that Keegan's Entertainers came so close to winning the Premier League (1995-96). He dropped further back into midfield that year but still managed 11 goals. Beardsley himself believes that is the season in which he peaked. He was 35 years old.

Other players have made the switch from Goodison to St James' in recent years, too.

Kevin Sheedy arrived on a free aged 33 after playing more than 350 games for The Toffees. 'Sheeds' was an important member of the early Keegan teams. He helped Newcastle to avoid relegation in 1992, signing for the club then playing in 13 of the last 14 and most crucial games.

He contributed to the First Division (now the Championship) winning side the following season with 33 games and five goals.

Gary Speed was another left footed midfielder who made the switch. 'Speedo' signed for Kenny Dalglish in February 1998 costing £5.5m.

The reality is that Speed struggled in his early days at Newcastle.

Every club has supporters who identify a player or two to criticise more than any. It was often Speed. That perception changed when Bobby Robson came to the club. Speed looked like a far superior player to the one seen playing for Dalglish or Ruud Gullit.

Speed was an excellent athlete -- he played 54 games in his final Newcastle season (2003-04) and during his time at the club he played in two FA cup finals and numerous Champions League games. What supporters would give for those games now.

RIP Speedo.

It was a surprise to everyone when Big Duncan Ferguson signed for Newcastle for £8m in October 1998. Even Walter Smith, Everton manager at the time, didn't know about it.

Big Dunc made a promising start scoring twice on his debut against Wimbledon but his Newcastle career never really took off.

He was plagued by injuries and this meant appearances were limited.

His finest moment at Newcastle came off the field. Gullit bizarrely left Ferguson and Alan Shearer on the bench for a derby against Sunderland in the fifth game of the 1999-00 season. Newcastle lost the game and it was the tipping point for the players and supporters.

The following morning Shearer went to the manager's office to declare his fury. Big Dunc had beaten him to it and rumour has it that the big Scotsman had kicked the office door off its hinges!

Ferguson was a good player. A fearsome opponent. I remember the look of fear on the faces of the Roma back four when Ferguson burst onto the park as a substitute in a UEFA Cup game!

It wasn't to be though. Ferguson's heart was always with Everton and he went back there for £4m in 2000.

Other players have switched between the clubs including Dan Gosling who will probably sit on the bench on Monday. And who can forget Alessandro Pistone? Probably quite a few people -- he was terrible. Quite how Newcastle managed to persuade Everton that he was worth £3m I will never know!

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy


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