With Matty Longstaff’s goal stealing the headlines from Newcastle’s win over Manchester United on Sunday, one thing may have escaped people’s notice – that squad contained four local academy graduates.
The Longstaffs – who both started the game – and Paul Dummett, have only played for Newcastle, while Andy Carroll took a more complex path to his involvement.
Sir John Hall had a vision of some day seeing 11 Geordies pulling on the black and white shirt at St James’ Park, and while it may not have been quite that, having a group of them in a single squad is reminiscent of his words.
However, in one respect, the former Newcastle supremo’s concept has materialised, as Newcastle fielded 11 Geordies for their Under-23 second-string side, when they claimed a landslide 5-0 win over local rivals Sunderland in August 2018.
In modern football, with the influx of players from abroad, many of who arrive as schoolboys and teenagers, it is rare to have a host of local lads playing for their boyhood team.
So it was refreshing that Newcastle have enough talent from the region to be confident enough to include them in the senior set-up.
Rafa Benitez insisted on academy investment at Newcastle
It also reinforces the opinion of our former manager to invest heavily in the academy set-up, for both scouting players and infrastructure.
Rafa Benitez always placed a high priority on developing youth to become our stars of the future, and if they are picked up from schoolboy teams around the region, then all the better.
Newcastle do have some promising youngsters coming through the academy at present, and of course – as is the standard nowadays – some of them are from abroad.
But they also have some talented local youngsters on their books, and with talk this week of Newcastle trying to bring back former academy player Lewis Gibson from Everton, they could yet bolster the number of Geordie talent next season.
While there is some way to go to fulfil Sir John Hall’s Newcastle vision, the prospects look a lot closer now, than they did a few years ago.