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EXCLUSIVE: Craig Moore On Life At NUFC


Last week I had the pleasure to hold my first ever interview with a former Newcastle United player.

An absolute gentleman, former Australian international centre-back, Craig Moore kindly sat down for a great chat.

Such is the way the world is at the moment, where would we be without technology? From my home in rural Staffordshire, to Craig Moore who is back in his homeland, residing on the Gold Coast of Australia, we chatted about his time at Newcastle United.

Signed by Graeme Souness, who previously tried to sign Moore for Blackburn a couple of years previous, Moore scored on his debut in the black and white shirt in a pre-season friendly against Yeading. Unfortunately injury struck soon after that, meaning that Moore wouldn't make his competitive debut for the club until March 2006, the FA Cup quarter-final defeat at Chelsea. Souness who by his own admission was aggressive in his management style, was disappointed by the Aussie's lengthy absence, a frustration which Craig shared; "I remember at times, myself and Graeme being in the gym, and having a chat about Australia and the disappointment of him bringing me to the football club (and not being able to play) and at the same time for me not being fit and not being able to put my hand up to play at that particular time, which was burning inside."

It is clear that the respect is still there for the Scottish manager, as they share a history not only at Newcastle, but at Glasgow Rangers. "He was a very experienced manager, who had been around the traps. I probably got him at the time when he was a little bit calmer than his earlier days!" Souness was sacked later on that season, Moore feels that the manager who brought him to Newcastle, was unlucky with the number of injuries they had within the squad.

"My time there under Graeme, he was very unlucky...we had Albert Luque, he was injured for a spell. Michael Owen also injured. In football you need things to come together, and you need a little bit of luck but we had a squad that if everyone was able to put their hand up then Souness would still have been in the job."

Moore's injuries could not have come at a worse time for Newcastle, as the centre of defence then had to consist predominantly of Jean-Alain Boumsong and Titus Bramble, who it is fair to say do not spark too many favourable memories between them. Supporters were left frustrated, as they felt someone of Moore's presence and experience could sure up the defence.

"I had a brief experience of Jean-Alain Boumsong at Rangers, so I kind've knew a little bit about him. I knew Tayls [Steven Taylor] was a great younger player that certainly wore his heart on his sleeve, and gave his all to the football club. Big T [Titus Bramble] was obviously a little bit unpredictable, and that's the kind of feeling I got from the Newcastle fans, that I had the potential to bring stability to a partnership [in the centre of defense], its was just unfortunate it couldn't get off the ground from the beginning."

It was no coincidence that with a run in the starting eleven, Newcastle's defensive record improved with Moore in the side towards the end of the 2005/06 season. Two derby wins at Middlesbrough and most notably the 4-1 win at Sunderland, which is remembered as Alan Shearer's final ever game for Newcastle. Moore felt that his experience of the Old Firm derby, during his six seasons at Rangers, held him in good stead for the biggest derby in the North-East.

"I had the great experience of the Old Firm derbies, so I was probably in a good space in terms of I didn't feel like I was going to run into something that I hadn't experienced before. But what I did run into was a very highly contested derby, that meant so much to the supporters, and that last game of Al's [Shearer] who scored the penalty, in the end it was pretty convincing, and there's nothing sweeter than getting one over your rivals."

Glenn Roeder, who Moore had met a number of times previously while at Rangers, due to a certain Paul Gascoigne, took charge of Newcastle for the remainder of his time on Tyneside.

"I always got the feeling that he was better with the younger players. He probably felt that he could bond and forge a better relationship with those younger players. I felt that, although we finished strongly within the season, it was probably players and squad driven, rather than a top notch Head Coach coming in and making the world of difference...but, when you get that different Head Coach coming in, it certainly does give you a lift."

It is plain to see talking to Craig that there is still a fondness for Newcastle United, despite a frustrating theme of injuries he had to endure. He feels he let the club down, despite the injuries being no fault of his own.

"My time at the football club was a great time. I really really enjoyed myself...when I think about myself in terms of being fit, being able to put my hand up week in week out. I felt as if I let the club down in that way. When I was fit, I played and I think people could see the type of player, and the type of character that I was, and it was extremely frustrating."

The Aussie left Newcastle in the summer of 2007, after his contract expired. The honest centre-back still looks out for Newcastle news and scores, as we discuss the upcoming potential takeover.

"Fingers crossed with the Saudi investors that this one is legitimate. I got the great chance to play for Newcastle United, who are an unbelievable club with a great set of supporters, and every year there's that hope of going and winning silverware, and I'm very certain that things go in the right direction with a potential takeover, that there's some really exciting times ahead for Newcastle United, and I'm sure some silverware will not be that far away."

I would like to put on record my thanks to Craig for his time. A real approachable, top guy, who I could have easily talked to all day! It is clear he has a real football mind, not to be wasted. He is staying in the game, looking into both coaching and player representation.

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