Newcastle United Legends - Geordie Boot Boys


Newcastle United have a great history as one of England’s biggest football clubs, filled with a long list of legends to suit. The St James’ Park natives have been blessed with an array of star-studded squads over the years. Some iconic names go back to the start of the Magpies’ story when founded in 1892.

Among the legends of Newcastle include the names of Alan Shearer and Kevin Keegan, who enjoyed fabled spells on Tyneside. No one has yet scored more often for the Toon than Shearer, who hit 206 goals in 405 games. While Keegan returned to the club as their manager and oversaw a stout tenure.

Alan Shearer

Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Position: Centre-forward
Appearances: 405
Goals: 206
Managers: Kevin Keegan (1996-97), Kenny Dalglish (1997-98), Ruud Gullit (1998-99), Sir Bobby Robson (1999-2004), Graeme Souness (2004-06), Glenn Roeder (2006)
Years at Newcastle United: 1996-2006

Keegan took Shearer back home in July 1996 when Newcastle agreed to a world-record transfer with Blackburn Rovers. The Magpies spent £15m to secure the striker and quickly ran out of letters to put his name on the back of shirts. While he left Ewood Park as a hero after winning the Premier League.

The swoop marked a long-awaited homecoming for the soon-to-be-named England captain. Shearer had trialled for his hometown Newcastle whilst a schoolboy having started out in the Wallsend Boys Club. But the Toon tested him as a goalkeeper in what would prove to be a huge error of judgement.

Shearer would, however, prove his weight in more than gold as a centre-forward once he finally got a long-awaited chance to play at Newcastle’s stadium, St James’ Park. The next 10 years resulted in the forward becoming the Magpies’ all-time leading goalscorer with 206 across 405 appearances.

He even fashioned his final strike against the club’s fierce rivals, Sunderland. While Newcastle made a statue of their talismanic legend outside of St James’ Park in 2016. His status as a Toon icon cannot be questioned having been an endless source of goals, even throughout the club’s managerial upheaval.

Rob Lee

Photo Credit: Ben Radford/ALLSPORT via Getty Images
Position: Central midfielder
Appearances: 303
Goals: 44
Managers: Kevin Keegan (1992-97), Kenny Dalglish (1997-98), Ruud Gullit (1998-99), Sir Bobby Robson (1999-2002)
Years at Newcastle United: 1992-2002

Newcastle signed Rob Lee in what would prove to be a bargain £700k transfer from Charlton Athletic during September 1992. The midfielder went on to be one of the finest technicians to ever grace the engine room at St James’ Park. While his arrival was another of the superb signings Keegan oversaw.

Lee may have been born in London but his decade on Tyneside saw him become an adopted Geordie adored by fans. His start to life in the North East came on the wings, though, as Lee produced a flurry of mazy runs. Those displays also helped Newcastle secure promotion as the second-tier champions.

Keegan moved Lee into the heart of his midfield once Newcastle were a Premier League team. It was a transformative decision as his box-to-box exploits would help take the Toon into Europe. Lee regularly delivered lung-busting displays and also added a goalscoring touch to the core of the Magpies team.

No game showed the attacking threat Lee offered Newcastle more so than the Toon’s first European fixture in 17 years. After helping guide the club into the UEFA Cup, Lee struck a hat-trick to help beat Royal Antwerp 5-0. Kenny Dalglish even named him as captain in 1997 but Ruud Gullit took it away.

Kevin Keegan

Photo by Stu Forster/Allsport/Getty Images
Position: Centre-forward
Appearances: 85
Goals: 49
Managers: Arthur Cox (1982-84)
Years at Newcastle United: 1982-84, 1992-97, 2008

Newcastle were a sleeping giant before ‘King Kev’ Keegan joined the Toon in a shock transfer from Southampton in 1982. His all-action style had a transformative impact on the Magpies, even though the move came at the end of his career. The forward was already amongst the finest in the country.

Keegan was renowned with Southampton for playing through the pain barrier as one of the hardest workers. He also already had an esteemed record from spells with Liverpool and Hamburg. While an 18-month spell at St James’ Park saw Keegan help guide Newcastle to promotion into the top-flight.

Retirement soon followed but Keegan made a heroic return to Newcastle eight years later to replace Osvaldo Ardiles as the manager. Relegation to the third-tier was calling under the Argentine. But the Toon would turn things around and clinched promotion in Keegan’s first full campaign at their helm.

The Premier League era was now underway and with it, so was a new Newcastle. Keegan’s touch led to the Entertainers and he took the Magpies to back-to-back second-place finishes in 1995/96 and in 1996/97. They had even challenged for the title in the two seasons prior, finishing in third and sixth.

Jackie Milburn

Photo by NCJ/NCJ Archive/Mirrorpix via Getty Images
Position: Centre-forward
Appearances: 397
Goals: 200
Managers: Stan Seymour (1943-57)
Years at Newcastle United: 1943-57

Until Shearer graced St James’ Park, unquestionable Newcastle legend Jackie Milburn was their top scorer. Between his arrival at the Toon in 1943 and retiring in 1957 aged 33, the striker penned 200 goals. He also scored 38 times in wartime games, while his efforts earned the nickname ‘Wor Jackie’.

Milburn’s hero status further earned the Ashington-born pitman esteemed recognition at St James’ Park. The Magpies renamed the main stand after their iconic striker and also erected a statue outside of the Gallowgate End of him facing the city centre. He was also a Freeman of the City of Newcastle.

Thousands of people also lined the streets of the city to pay their respects to Milburn at his funeral in 1988. He earned true legend status at Newcastle having been a man of the people. The forward also had more than just goals in his locker as Milburn further graced the game with his blistering speed.

Milburn also had a key hand in one of the most prosperous spells in Newcastle’s trophy history. His two goals won the Magpies the FA Cup final in 1951 before opening the scoring just 45 seconds into the 1952 final. He also scored a hat-trick to help them pip Portsmouth 4-2 in the 1952 quarter-final.

Shay Given

Photo by Ben Radford/Getty Images
Position: Goalkeeper
Appearances: 463
Goals: 0
Managers: Kenny Dalglish (1997-98), Ruud Gullit (1998-99), Sir Bobby Robson (1999-2004), Graeme Souness (2004-06), Glenn Roeder (2006-07), Sam Allardyce (2007-08), Kevin Keegan (2008), Joe Kinnear (2008-09)
Years at Newcastle United: 1997-2009

Dalglish raided Blackburn in July 1997 and secured what would prove to be a bargain £1.5m transfer for Shay Given. The goalkeeper went on to enjoy a 12-year stay at St James’ Park which featured 463 games. His record places the Republic of Ireland hero third in the Magpies’ all-time appearances list.

Manchester City would later sign Given in February 2009 for £7m after the shot-stopper stunned the Toon by issuing a statement criticising the direction the club was heading on and off the pitch. It came three years after the goalkeeper had committed the rest of his career to the Tyneside outfit.

While his time at St James’ Park ended in shock, Given had proven himself to be a loyal and fantastic servant over the 12 preceding years. He was often among the best shot-stoppers in England with an endless stream of important performances. Glenn Roeder even awarded Given the club’s captaincy.

Peter Beardsley

Photo by Danny Brannigan/Hulton Archive
Position: Centre-forward, attacking midfielder
Appearances: 326
Goals: 119
Managers: Arthur Cox (1983-84), Jack Charlton (1984-85), Willie McFaul (1985-87), Kevin Keegan (1993-97), Kenny Dalglish (1997)
Years at Newcastle United: 1983-87, 1993-97

Peter Beardsley enjoyed two spells at St James’ Park that saw the striker-cum-attacking midfielder become a Newcastle legend. The gifted and skilful operator remains one of the Toon’s all-time top goalscorers after scoring 119 times in 326 games. While his footwork was as captivating as his goals.

Arthur Cox brought the England hero back to his homeland in 1983 after a spell with the Vancouver Whitecaps. The decision would be a stroke of genius as Beardsley and Keegan combined to fire the Magpies to promotion. But Liverpool later came calling to sign the attacker in the summer of 1987.

Beardsley would also go on to enjoy a spell with Everton before returning to Newcastle in 1992, this time to play under Keegan. The iconic teammates reunited and Beardsley returned to St James’ Park as if he never left. He may have been 32 by this point but slotted in seamlessly with the Entertainers.

His first season back on Tyneside saw Beardsley score 21 goals in 35 games to help Newcastle finish their first term in the Premier League in third. It was a better single-season return than he had ever amassed in a league campaign. But the goals would dry up towards the end of his stay on Tyneside.

Les Ferdinand

Photo by Bradley Ormesher/Mirrorpix/Getty Images
Position: Centre-forward
Appearances: 83
Goals: 50
Managers: Kevin Keegan (1995-1997), Kenny Dalglish (1997)
Years at Newcastle United: 1995-1997

Few strikers in the Premier League era have been as complete as Les Ferdinand. The forward offered an aerial threat to rival any attacker, had the speed to beat defenders and the strength to outmuscle any opponent. He also had a sensational strike rate and left his mark during a short stay at St James’.

Ferdinand only spent two years at Newcastle but left a legend with 50 goals in 83 games – a hit rate of 60%. Not that the forward wanted to leave Tyneside, either. Ferdinand later revealed in January 2019 that he had wanted to see out his career with the Toon but Dalglish saw his sales as an opportunity.

Keegan had signed Ferdinand from Queens Park Rangers in 1993 and instantly saw the striker thrive in black-and-white. A stunning first term in the North East saw the PFA name him as its Player of the Year. But Keegan’s departure and Dalglish’s arrival would usher in a different period for the Magpies.

Les Ferdinand did not want to leave Newcastle United for Tottenham Hotspur

Ferdinand told Sky Sports: “I didn’t want to leave Newcastle United. I was there for two years and I would have spent the rest of my career there. I thought it was a great club and thought we were on the cusp of winning something… Kenny had his own ideas, he came in and he needed to raise funds.

“He did say to me he didn’t want me to leave but the club were looking to raise funds and he was honest with me. He said he didn’t want to lose me but I didn’t really believe it. Tottenham came up with £6m, I had been there for two years, I was 30 and Newcastle probably saw it as good business.

“There were a couple of other clubs that came in, Liverpool only wanted to pay £3.5m, Sheffield Wednesday were willing to pay £6m. So, I remember speaking to David Pleat. But I thought if I am going to leave Newcastle, Tottenham were my boyhood club so that was where I was going to go.”

Bob Moncur

Photo by NCJ Archive/NCJ Archive/Mirrorpix via Getty Images
Position: Centre-half
Appearances: 296
Goals: 3
Managers: Charlie Mitten (1960-61), Norman Smith (1961-62), Joe Harvey (1962-74)
Years at Newcastle United: 1960-1974

Bob Moncur earned his place as a Newcastle legend during a storied spell at the heart of the defence on Tyneside. He is also among a rare group of Magpies icons having captained the Toon to a title. He even scored each of his three goals for the club over the two-legged 1969 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup final.

It remains the most recent major title in Newcastle’s trophy history after they beat Hungarian outfit Ujpesti Dosza 6-2. Moncur scored twice at St James’ Park to lead the first leg 3-0 before also netting the Magpies’ first in Budapest. Through 296 games for the Toon, they remained Moncur’s only goals.

Moncur’s career with Newcastle even started as an apprentice in 1960 before the Perth native made his debut in 1963. Yet he had to wait until the 1967/68 campaign before truly making his mark in the North East. And the captain’s armband also followed that season en route to European qualification.

Newcastle’s run to the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup final included wins against Sporting Lisbon and Rangers. But Ujpesti Dosza would not walk over and responded in the second leg to lead 2-0 at half-time. Yet Moncur rallied the Toon with a crisp volley straight after the restart to spark a 3-2 comeback result.

John Rutherford

Position: Outside right
Appearances: 336
Goals: 94
Managers: Frank Watt (1902-13)
Years at Newcastle United: 1902-1913

Born in North Tyneside, John ‘Jock’ Rutherford would earn the status of a Newcastle legend and the nickname ‘the Newcastle flyer’ over an 11-year career at St James’ Park. He also set Magpies records from the off at 17 years old as the Toon’s youngest ever debutant and as their youngest ever scorer.

England recognition came for Rutherford at 20 before spells with Arsenal, Stoke City, Clapton Orient and Tunbridge Wells Rangers. He would not retire until his 40s but Rutherford’s best days came with Newcastle. The forward offered the Toon 94 goals through 336 appearances over his 12 campaigns.

Rutherford started off at St James’ Park as a striker before moving to an outside right position from the 1903/04 season. The move would lead to his nickname as the attacker charged down the wings with sublime grace and pace. Rutherford would captivate the club’s fanbase with his swerving runs.

Jimmy Lawrence

Position: Goalkeeper
Appearances: 496
Goals: 0
Managers: Frank Watt (1904-22)
Years at Newcastle United: 1904-1922

No player has yet surpassed Newcastle legend Jimmy Lawrence for his total number of games for the Magpies. The iconic Toon goalkeeper stood between the sticks for 496 fixtures from 1904 until 1922. His tally also returns Newcastle records for league games with 432 and FA Cup appearances with 64.

Further games for Newcastle outside of league and cup competitions took the Glasgow native to 507 games altogether. He further helped the Toon win the first of their three top-flight trophies over the 1904/05, 1906/07 and 1908/09 campaigns. While the 1909/10 term also returned a first FA Cup title.

Lawrence was one of just three players with Rutherford and Colin Veitch to contribute toward all of Newcastle’s Edwardian-era successes. He also frustrated the Magpies’ great rivals, Sunderland, after saving four penalties during Tyne-Wear derbies in his career renowned for making spectacular saves.