Les Ferdinand remembers well the derby games between Newcastle and Sunderland, when he was at the club from 1995 through 1997.
Les Ferdinand – 50 goals in 84 appearances for the Magpies
Les scored 50 goals in 84 appearances for Newcastle, and he is now in broadcasting, and doing a good job in the broadcast booth. And of course he loves Newcastle and is loved by Newcastle fans everywhere for his great contribution to the club. As we’ve said before Les is also a gentleman and a wonderful role model for kids.
Les talked about the Newcastle Sunderland derby games:
â€œI was lucky enough to do well when I played against Sunderland, and that was no mean feat because they had a good team that was challenging with us at the top of the table at the time. But I was unfortunate at the same time because I never got to play in that atmosphere that everyone was always raving about.â€
â€œThe fans are famous for their passion in the area and to play in a stadium where both sets of supporters were roaring their teams on would have been something else. But because of the ban on away fans at Roker Park when I was playing, I never got to do that.â€
â€œNewcastle did the same for the return leg and I think it took a bit away from the games to be honest. If youâ€™re any kind of player you feed off an atmosphere like that.â€
â€œBut make no mistake, the derby game is absolutely huge. As a player you appreciate how big it is and you know you have to perform. In my day the build-up around the city reached fever pitch by the time the game kicked off and you knew you were playing for the pride of a hell of a lot of people when you went out there.â€
Having also turned out for Tottenham in the North London derby against Arsenal, and also Besiktas in their local derby with FenerbahÃ§e, Ferdinand is in a good position to judge where the Tyne-Wear game ranks in the list of footballâ€™s biggest local rivalries.
â€œItâ€™s one of the biggest derby games in the world,â€ â€œI played in a few but the supporters in the North East are the most passionate and football-mad I ever played in front of and the derby is up there with the best of them.â€
â€œI used to have people come up to me in the street months before the game and say â€˜Just beat Sunderlandâ€™ â€“ itâ€™s that kind of game really. The North London game was big but it probably wasnâ€™t the same kind of focus that you have up there.â€
â€œThe game itself is going to be very close because Sunderland are a decent side under Roy Keane, whoâ€™s done a good job,â€ â€œThere were probably a few people asking questions about whether Roy would be able to do it as a manager because heâ€™d been such a good player and it is sometimes difficult to replicate that.”
â€œ But heâ€™s completely re-invented himself and heâ€™s been a big success so far.â€
We also think Keane’s done a good job at Sunderland, and it looks like he will keep them in the Premier league this season. They are now 7 points clear of the relegation zone, and 3 points behind Newcastle. But they shouldn’t expect anything out of the game at St. James’ Park on Sunday, and a Newcastle win is vital to our season.
No less than all 3 points will be acceptable to the Newcastle faithful on Sunday, and the players know that, and we think they will deliver.