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News and Commentary On Newcastle United Football Club By Ed Harrison, A Proud Exiled Geordie And Lifelong Fan

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Newcastle Need More Intelligent Middle-Class Youngsters

11:22 pm, Friday, March 28th, 2014 by Dr. Ed Harrison · 34 Comments

When I signed as a 15 year-old amateur for local club  Newcastle United many many moons ago, I met with the Newcastle official who signed me, and he was aware I was doing quite well in  school,  and I always thought it was a bit of a stretch when he said  - “well you need to be intelligent to be a good player”  - and it’s something I never forgot (for whatever reason), but you don’t have to be educated to be a great football player

alan pardew clos-up

Alan Pardew - looking in the wrong place?

But today. lo and behold, Alan Pardew has contrasted the Southampton and Newcastle Youth Academies and pointed out there are more middle class kids in the Southampton area,who tend to have better educations, and maybe that explains why the south coast club keeps bringing great youngsters through the club – and we don’t – not yet anyway.

This is what Alan said about the Southampton Youth Academy:

“They’ve had Walcott, Bale, Shaw, Lalllana and it makes a huge difference. I know we will get players through here, but will we get an exceptional player?”

“Southampton have a different type of catchment area. There is a big working class community, but there are a lot of middle-class kids who have good education.”

“The players who come out of Southampton are quite ­intelligent and there might be something in that.” “We have to put more intelligence into our players here.”

“It’s very important to not just look after the football side of it, but to also bring the right personalities through. We want them to be level-headed.”

Remember that line in Raiders of the last Ark – when Harrison Ford – whose character Indianan Jones was looking for the Ark of the Covenant and wanted to find it before the Nazis got it – had suddenly realized – we are digging in the wrong place.

Maybe that’s something Alan should look at, we don’t our current inability to bring through some top youngsters is  anything to do with Newcastle being more working class than down south – in fact the will to succeed should be even stronger because of that.

Maybe what we should be doing is improving our scouting system of how we get youngsters to the club, and  improving the coaching of them and also our facilities on Tyneside.

That would help.

Adam Armstrong is currently our best young local hope –  go and show them Adam!

Comments welcome.

Note: Andrew Todd is a passionate Geordie first, and a final year student at De Montfort University second, and he’s busy working on his dissertation. His questionnaire is only for people in the UK Retail Sector, and takes only a few minutes to complete here it is.

Note: Sean Borland is a student in Newcastle and will not be at either the Man United (5 April) or Swansea (19 April) games – and he has tickets – £30 for the ManU game and £20 for the Swansea game – you can contact him at or sean4eva09 on twitter.

Tags: Adam Armstrong · Newcastle Academy · Newcastle News · Newcastle U18


34 responses so far ↓

  • 1 MercurialStephen // Mar 28, 2014 at 11:28 PM


  • 2 Schwefelberg // Mar 28, 2014 at 11:29 PM

    It’s not Class – it’s a State of Mind. The Shipbuilders used to run away from the Dock when the Bell rang. In Japan they stayed until Midnight to work on a problem.

  • 3 jimmysmith // Mar 28, 2014 at 11:36 PM

    Amazing some of the Man U hardcore have turned their wrath on Ferguson. Short memories and low IQ’s? Fergie might have done more to pass on a younger squad I suppose, although he would hardly be solely responsible. Don’t imagine Moyes is too happy about it either though, but he must have known what he was getting into and he did inherit the Champions.

  • 4 norwegianmagpie // Mar 28, 2014 at 11:38 PM

    That must be it! That is probably also why countries that have been poor, like Argentina and Brazil, has always sucked when it comes to football! Oh, and that there are no African footballers!

    I feel bad for having Pardew as a manager, when a man of his intelligence obviously should be working on curing aids or eliminating poverty.

  • 5 jimmysmith // Mar 28, 2014 at 11:40 PM

    Newcastle are looking at developing their youth system as a priority I think. If so, great, and probably the only way that Ashley can right this ship and redeem himself. Long bow as it is.

  • 6 Marty-Toon // Mar 28, 2014 at 11:46 PM

    Didn’t Nile Ranger come through Southampton also?
    Now that’s intelligence personified right there ;-)

  • 7 MercurialStephen // Mar 28, 2014 at 11:46 PM

    Take Your Pick



  • 8 Ciaran // Mar 28, 2014 at 11:51 PM

    So effectively, Alan Pardew is calling the kids of Newcastle thick?

    Also, Alan you seem to be equating intelligence with class, which is a typically Tory thing to do.

    I’m a University educated man from a working class background? Can your Neanderthal brain cope with that contradiction Alan?

    Bloody pig ignorant p***k.

  • 9 MercurialStephen // Mar 29, 2014 at 12:01 AM

    PART 2

    Luciano Spalletti
    Lucien Favre
    Frank Rijkaard

  • 10 matclarke4000 // Mar 29, 2014 at 12:04 AM

    He has a point. Its not that middle class kids are better are football. Only 5 of the 36 players who played for England at the 98, 02 and 06 world cups came from a middle-class background (defined as their fathers doing jobs that required more than a basic formal education, i.e. post O levels). Yet over half of British men in 1966 (the generation of these players fathers) had education beyond O levels. When the working classes comprised 70% of the population in the 1980s it didnt make much difference, but now 70% stay in school past 16 and 40% go to higher education. Excluding the middle classes narrows the talent pool clubs can choose from. This isnt exactly what Pardew was saying, but it is a good point to make. Read “Why England Lose” by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski.

  • 11 matclarke4000 // Mar 29, 2014 at 12:04 AM

    apologies, that should say “half of British men in 1996″

  • 12 MercurialStephen // Mar 29, 2014 at 12:06 AM


  • 13 Mister Tuff // Mar 29, 2014 at 12:22 AM

    I read Percys’ comments and then went back and read them again not quite understanding what he was saying. Half an hour later read it again to satisfy myself of what he was meaning. I can only come to the conclusion that he is saying that the working class of the North East are thick/uneducated -making a contrast with the more educated middle class youngsters of the Southampton area. The premise of his argument that more intelligent persons are better footballers is to my mind false.
    This is Percys’ “Hall and Shepherd” moment -slagging off the area/people/Newcastle is a step too far. He needs to pack his bags and get oot the Toon.

  • 14 manxpie // Mar 29, 2014 at 1:31 AM

    ruddy come on no he’s not!

    he’s saying the players who came through from southampton were middle class!

    and lets face it most footballers are thick
    just think in the 60′s footballers had to have a trade or job to play football
    now we offer them contracts at 15-16 and they think there made

    its actually a very important point he’s making that learning and teaching needs to keep on going throughout there apprentiship

    and the players that did that were focused on both

    who’d you trust to work out the change of a £50 note rooney or bale????

  • 15 manxpie // Mar 29, 2014 at 1:38 AM

    tuff all he’s said is the catchment area around southampton is more middle class which is true!

    so don’t go over the top!

  • 16 manxpie // Mar 29, 2014 at 1:45 AM

    and MECURIALSTEPHEN A FIRST TIME POSTER I SAID A FIRST TIME POSTER I DONT THINK SO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)
    just another addition to the ruining of this blog!
    but hope for a good win tomorrow i’m goin 2-1

  • 17 geordie157 // Mar 29, 2014 at 1:48 AM

    Rooney only deals with fifty pound notes anything less is considered an insult. He is a god afterall.

  • 18 geordie157 // Mar 29, 2014 at 1:52 AM

    Apart from Armstrong and possibly satka does any other current youngster on the books have a good chance of making it?

    I don’t get too see the under 18′s or development side being stuck down south.

  • 19 RonVanDam // Mar 29, 2014 at 2:24 AM

    Post 2. You make a lot of sense. You need to think deep and apply it to different aspect of life to understand it. Take for a uni student for example. Going to classes and lectures are good but you don’t put the extra effort and hard yards to upskill yourself through research, additional tutorials and outside help you will only get so far. I used to read how ronaldo and bale used to stay back after training to work on their free kicks and correct different aspects of their game, see where their hard work has lead them. This is something I don’t read about our players. Jordan Henderson is now following that same path as those two at Liverpool. It all depends on the culture of the club and attitude of players and how bad they want it

  • 20 weg // Mar 29, 2014 at 2:46 AM

    Pardew is supposed to be intelligent himself and he comes out with this. Even if he didn’t mean to be condescending to the people of the north east, it certainly sounds like he is. What an idiot! There are plenty of great footballers who aren’t highly educated. With respect, I don’t think Gazza was a brainbox, but he could certainly kick a ball around. And a hundred times the player Pardew ever got to be! Good footballers are nowt to do with catchment areas. It’s to do with instinct and understanding the game. You can be uneducated and still be a genius.
    Pardew, you’re a prat!

  • 21 lesh // Mar 29, 2014 at 3:02 AM

    Yes Mr Tuff. Mr Pardew’s observation’s a red clumsy to say the least.

    He could develop the Academy in a couple of ways:

    Form a working relationship with the RGS (that’s the Royal Grammar School for those unfamiliar with Newcastle) and appoint Micheal Gove as Director of Youth Development. Mind, that’d be much like appointing King Herod to manage a creche! Which schools did Gascoigne, Waddle, Beardsley and the Charlton brothers go to? I’m confident they didn’t attend one of the fee-paying academies or finishing schools for the sons of gentlefolk.

    Pardew’s talking utter bollocks!

  • 22 manxpie // Mar 29, 2014 at 3:06 AM

    weg do lower class kids get the same oppertunities as higher class kids??

    do there parents have the same time or money to give there kids the same oppertunities??

    how about thinking before you start spouting!!

  • 23 Raiks // Mar 29, 2014 at 3:18 AM

    I think education in the academy is critical. Intelligence will always complement raw talent and will definitely make a difference on the field, but what about all those local lads who don’t make the first team, a solid education and the chance to contribute to the club in non-footballing roles such as physios, HR, accounting etc could provide a massive boost to the club and help attract the best juniors as their parents can see we care about them as people and not just as footballers.

  • 24 manxpie // Mar 29, 2014 at 3:22 AM

    a workin class kid lives 10 miles away from his nearest football team is he gonna get the same chance as a higher class kid that can either afford for his parents to drive him there or pay for him to get there twice a week plus a match on a sunday?

    its a very very good point actually but let the hate rain down as usual!

  • 25 manxpie // Mar 29, 2014 at 3:26 AM

    exactly raiks but why should we think of that when we can just hammer pardew some more and our own club some more
    infact turn a good point into offending a whole region! lol

  • 26 jimmysmith // Mar 29, 2014 at 5:03 AM

    C’mon, it’s naughty to suggest Pardew is claiming working class people are thick. He’s talking about the benefits of stability and education and how that might help to make better footballers. Not at all provocative. As usual he might have been a bit more thoughtful in his choice of words but then again he’s no Rhodes Scholar himself. Longer article about it in the Guardian.

  • 27 jimmysmith // Mar 29, 2014 at 5:14 AM

  • 28 jimmysmith // Mar 29, 2014 at 6:31 AM

    Anyway stability and education certainly would almost always be a good thing. Perhaps educating the owner on the benefits of eating less and eating more fruit and veg, for example.

  • 29 Charlie in the Gallowgate // Mar 29, 2014 at 7:24 AM

    Education – Yeah he’s got a point – but how do you weigh Gazza, George Best up brilliant intelligent footballers on the the football pitch.
    Yet off the pitch and with money different people.

    I take it clubs educate players now during their football life- in life after football. if not should do

  • 30 jesperfuglsang - captain of the lemon crew // Mar 29, 2014 at 7:26 AM

    Ed, there is something called the seven intelligences, maybe that could explain some of it especially if those teaching the youngsters, whether if is it football or education, doesn’t know it?

  • 31 jesperfuglsang - captain of the lemon crew // Mar 29, 2014 at 7:37 AM

    They impact each other. Fx it has been shown that people who are good at sports are more capable of learning math – or is it the other way around ;)

    …same goes for music.

    Footballers need to be bright and poses some bodily/kinesthetic intelligence just to name one.

  • 32 cyprus // Mar 29, 2014 at 7:47 AM

    What you on about? Middle class and education does not equal intelligence! Is you thick man. In any case, footballers tend to have bodily-kinesthetic intelligence (see Gardner or Jesper for more info)…

  • 33 archaeomag // Mar 29, 2014 at 8:37 AM

    Middle claas kids have to read too much, which is bad for their eyes and they have to wear glasses – and you can’t play football
    - or was that just me….

  • 34 toonarmydownsouth // Mar 29, 2014 at 9:03 AM

    Bit of a naughty article Ed

    If you read the full article and interview it’s not what he’s said at all

    Don’t see any harm in wanting the club to do more in securing a better education for the youth players

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