Keeping up with a Tyneside revolution

BOOK OF THE WEEK: The Black 'n' White Alphabet A Complete Who's Who of Newcastle United by Paul Joannou (Polar Publishing, pounds 21.95)
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Paul Joannou had more reason than any other member of the Toon Army to lament the recent changing of the guard at St James' Park. It took him 15 years of exhaustive research to complete his excellent biographical guide to the players, managers, coaches and chairmen who have played a part in the Newcastle United story. In the four weeks of its shelf-life, his labour of love has been significantly overtaken by events.

Kevin Keegan, pictured in between Alan Shearer and Les Ferdinand on the front cover, is now as historical a figure in the club's history as those pictured on the back: Jackie Milburn, Hughie Gallacher and Malcolm Macdonald. And the only man featured in the "D" section of managers is Richard Dinnis.

Joannou has been this way before. When his centenary history of Newcastle was published, he persuaded Kevin Keegan to pen the foreword, in which the one-time Tyneside idol lamented the unfulfilled potential of his old club, and to travel from Spain to attend the book's launch. It was watching Newcastle play Dalglish's Blackburn after the lunchtime function that first stirred Keegan's managerial ambitions. Within three months Keegan was back at St James' Park and Joannou's magnum opus was out of date.

Joannou, 42, has been a Newcastle fan since the days of Ron McGarry, the rugby league player turned centre-forward who, his new book informs us, presented defenders with a printed calling card proclaiming: "Have goals. Will travel."

"Things are always changing at Newcastle," he said, "and the Who's Who was always going to be an on-going project anyway. I've already written two pages about Kenny Dalglish for the next edition - with a space for the honours he wins at Newcastle."

In the meantime, Joannou can congratulate himself on a job well done. He has unearthed many ripping yarns about the characters Dalglish will join in the next print run of his Who's Who: like Charlie Watts, a goalkeeper and trainer, who cut his own throat after losing a bet to clear his pounds 3,000 debts in 1924; and Teddy McIntyre, a right-half, who was charged and acquitted of murdering Plymouth Argyle's trainer in 1909.

Then there is Peter Mooney, who played in Newcastle's FA Cup-winning team in 1924 and alongside the great Gallacher in their last championship- winning side three years later. For the benefit of those who may be rusty on their Tyneside genealogy, Joannou has discovered him to be the great uncle of Jimmy Nail.

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