Hartlepool’s finest industrial folk troupe The Jar Family play at the Georgian Theatre in Stockton-on-Tees tonight, then headline London’s Water Rats venue for their Christmas show on the 14th, so Football Burp caught up with the band’s front man Al Devon for a bit of a natter about his beloved Newcastle United hours before their Europa League clash at Bordeaux…
Where will you be watching tonight’s game?
I won’t be – I’ve got some commitments with the missus so I’m barred from football tonight!
Did you catch the Wigan game the other night?
Yeah. I was expecting us to lose it, because we just seem to when we come up against the small teams now. I had more hope for the Manchester City game, to be honest. It can be harder playing against ten men because they close up shop on you but, with the spirit the team showed, even if we’d have lost I’d have been more satisfied with that than how we have been playing lately. It’s nice to see them score a couple of goals.
Do you have any doubts creeping in about Alan Pardew and whether or not he’s the right man for the job?
Nah. I’m sure all Newcastle fans did when he first came, because Chris Hughton had done such a good job while Pardew had been sacked by Southampton. We were all thinking Mike Ashley was doing it to try and get the club sold or something, but Pardew’s been solid and he’s won the Newcastle fans over, and that’s not an easy feat. They’ve got a good structure in place, got a scout, bringing some good players through – it’s a shame they get get more British players but when you look at Liverpool you can see they’re just totally overpriced.
In retrospect do you thank Liverpool for giving you all that money for Andy Carroll?
Definitely. A lot of people at the time said Newcastle were crazy to be selling their best player, but anyone would have done that. Andy Carroll was up for sale for a million quid not long before that! He’s not worth £35m and that’s why we won’t pay anything like that to have him back. That £35m bought us nearly a full new team. Cabaye, Tiote, Demba Ba, Cisse: we got all four of them with that money.
Are you worried about Cisse’s form or is it just the kind of spell every striker goes through?
To be honest I’ve been surprised by his form because he was blistering last season – couldn’t stop scoring, coming off his backside and everything – but you’ve got to keep Ba happy because he has a release clause in his contract. Cisse’s going to have to work on the wing now because I don’t think you can play them both together. As long as one of them’s scoring it’s okay, but no-one’s really in form for us yet – Ben Arfa’s not looked like the same player as last season, Cabaye either.
I’m most worried about Tiote though because every time I’ve seen him he’s looked like he might get a red card. We’ll lose him and others for the African Nations so a lot depends on whether or not we survive that little period.
If you were the manager and had money to spend in January, how would you spend it?
I’d definitely say we need another centre-back and I’d love to see us get someone like Ryan Shawcross from Stoke City to give us another option at the back. I still don’t think we’ve solved our left-back problem – Kieran Gibbs from Arsenal would be good, but I don’t think we’d get him.
The midfield’s not too bad but I’d probably look at bringing in a holding midfielder to cover for Tiote, although Bigirimana looks like a cracking young player. He’s been the standout player for me lately – he’s consistent, he doesn’t panic, in fact he’s playing a bit like Tiote did before he turned into a madman! We still need another creative midfielder, and I wouldn’t say no to Jack Collison from West Ham United. He’s a good player.
Could you name the first, best and worst games you’ve ever been to?
Funnily enough the first Newcastle match I ever went to was in Holland when we were playing Feyernoord in the Champions League, when Bellamy scored a late goal to get us through. It was a great first game to go to.
The best game I ever went to was when we beat Manchester United 3-0 last season, and the worst was Peter Beardsley’s debut for Hartlepool – it was so sad watching him lose the ball and get clattered and stuff. He actually scored a free-kick but they got beat.
If you had to select a five-a-side team out of all the Newcastle United players you’ve seen in your time as a fan, who would you choose?
Shay Given, Philippe Albert, Warren Barton, Scott Sellars, Beardsley, Gasgoigne, Ginola, Andy Cole and Alan Shearer.
That’s certainly a strong five-a-side team! Al Devon, thank you.