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Local lads we brought back home

Blyth born centre-back Dan Burn was signed from Brighton & Hove Albion on January transfer deadline day and that's got me thinking about what other local lads that came back to the North East from another club.

Peter Beardsley

At youth level, Peter Beardsley played for us and Wallsend Boys Club but it was at Carlisle United where his senior career began in 1978. He then played for Vancouver Whitecaps and made one appearance for Manchester United before we signed him in 1983 for £150,000. He scored twenty goals as we won promotion from Division Two in his first season, including a hat-trick in a 5-0 win over promotion rivals Manchester City before netting a further fourty-one goals in his three seasons in the top flight with us, including a hat-trick against Sunderland on New Year's Day 1985. He was sold to Liverpool for £2,000,000 in July 1987 but Kevin Keegan, who helped us to promotion alongside Beardsley in his final season as a player, re-signed him from Everton for £1,500,000 in July 1993 after winning promotion as a manager. His first season of his second spell saw him and Andy Cole net a combined forty-one goals as we finished third, he scored another thirty-one goals and nearly captained us to the Premier League in 1996 before leaving for newly-promoted Bolton Wanderers in August 1997.

Alan Shearer

After winning a seven-a-side tournament at St James' Park as kid, Alan Shearer joined Wallsend Boys Club, where he was spotted by Southampton scout Jack Hixon. He was offered a youth contract by the Saints in April 1986 before grabbing the headlines with a hat-trick against Arsenal two years later. After being named star of the tournament whilst playing for England U21s at the 1991 Toulon Tournament then scoring on his senior debut against France in February 1992, he broke the British transfer record when he joined Blackburn Rovers for £3,600,000 five months later. His strike partnership with Chris Sutton helped Rovers to win the Premier League title in 1995 and after he won the Euro 96 golden boot, we brought him back home for a world record £15,000,000. Upon arrival, he said he was just a sheet metal worker's son from Gosforth but he went on to become our all team top scorer with a total of 206 goals before a well deserved testimonial to end his playing career in 2006.

Andy Carroll

Andy Carroll came through our academy and made his senior debut in a 1-0 win away to Palermo in November 2006. He was tipped to have a big future by Juventus and Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon after scoring in pre season win over the Serie A outfit in July 2007 and scored his first competitive goal for us against West Ham United in January 2009. Following relegation, he got more chances to shine and was our top scorer with nineteen goals in all competitions as we won the Championship title by eleven points before he netted a hat-trick ina 6-0 win over Aston Villa in our first home game back in the top flight. Fans were devastated when he joined Liverpool for a British record £35,000,000 on deadline day in January 2011 but his time at Anfield didn't work out and he was reunited with former Magpies boss Sam Allardyce as he joined West Ham United on loan in August 2012 with the move being made permanent nine months later. He continued to have injury problems and failed to net double figures for Premier League goals during his time in East London and he left upon expiry of his contract in 2019. Three weeks after becoming our manager, Steve Bruce brought him back to Tyneside on a free transfer, a move you could argue was a PR stunt to ease the fan frustration after Rafael Benítez's departure. He did get five assists that season but no goals, his second season did see him score against Leicester City and come close to a memorable winner against Arsenal in the FA Cup but he was never the same player after his move to Liverpool and we were right to let him go at the end of the season.

Mark Gillespie

Mark Gillespie was part of our academy setup for eight years but was released in 2008 before joining Carlisle United, where he earned his first professional contract in 2010. He stayed with the Cumbrians until 2017, when he turned down a new deal and joined League One side Walsall. He joined Motherwell on a two year deal in 2018 then came back to us in July 2020, he made his first team debut in a 1-0 win over Blackburn Rovers in the Carabao Cup second and also kept a clean sheet in a 7-0 win at Morecambe in the third round. He did made an error in the fourth round away to Newport County with Tristan Abrahams' opener but saved from Ryan Taylor (not the one who played for us from 2009 to 2015) in the penalty shoot-out as we got through 5-4.

Dan Burn

Dan Burn was signed for our academy but was released at the age of eleven and also played at youth level for New Hartley, Blyth Town and Blyth Spartans before Darlington gave him his first professional contract in July 2009. Despite the Quackers suffering relegation from League Two in 2010 and being unable to make the Conference play-offs the following season, he earned a move to Fulham in April 2011. He had loan spells at Yeovil Town and Birmingham City and played more games for the Cottagers after they were relegated in 2014 before joining Wigan Athletic after his release in 2016. After two years at the DW Stadium, he joined Brighton & Hove Albion in August 2018 then returned to Tyneside last month and was named Man of The Match by Sky Sports as we beat Aston Villa 1-0 on his debut, hopefully he'll produce more performances like we saw from him last Sunday.



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