The Agenda: Jack Colback can be a Newcastle United great

The Sunderland connection won't be mentioned again if Jack Colback's debut on Sunday was anything to go by

Action Images / Lee Smith Newcastle United's Jack Colback in action with Manchester City's Fernandinho
Newcastle United's Jack Colback in action with Manchester City's Fernandinho

There was a terrific feature in the Newcastle United official programme about Ivor Broadis, who at 91 is believed to be the club’s oldest surviving former player.

I must confess I didn’t know much about Broadis, his name rang a distant bell, but for those who are not full ware of this gentleman he enjoyed a wonderfully interesting career.

After the Second World War when life sort of got back to normal, he became Carlisle United’s player-manager at just 23.

This gave him the unique opportunity to sell himself to Sunderland for a then record fee for the lower divisions, a not inconsiderable £18,000.

Broadis later joined Newcastle, via two years at Manchester City, where his tendency to speak out against the St James’ Park directors cost him a place in the FA Cup final.

He sounds a brilliant guy with one heck of a story to tell.

For me, it was interesting club historian Paul Joannou, who wrote this splendid piece, didn’t make too much of the fact this classy inside forward played for both Newcastle and Sunderland.

It wasn’t such a big deal back then. It isn’t such a big deal now, no matter what some try to tell you.

On Sunday afternoon, Jack Colback became the 57th player (according to the internet) to play for both teams across this great North East footballing divide.

Not everyone was convinced about signing a 24-year-old established Premier League midfielder on a free. The Sunderland thing was an issue for some, but not many. Not really.

Colback’s last appearance at St James’ Park, the stadium he once attended as a fan, was a good one for him on a personal level as he fulfilled his lifetime’s dream of scoring a goal at the Gallowgate End.

Although it’s likely this fantasy had him wearing black and white.

Aside from the Sunderland connection, Colback was viewed as a squad player.

Nothing more. If Newcastle were going to move forward as a team, could they do so with an ex-Mackem who was some way from being top class?

All new players want to start well at any club. Colback, in particular, knew that he had the begin against Manchester City in an impressive manner - and he delivered.

Yaya Toure, Fernando and Samir Nasri all had the same experience within the first-half on Sunday.

One minute they had the ball, the next thing they knew a little lad with ginger hair had stolen it from them.

Colback’s tenacity was matched by his passing. In a busy midfield he found the time to take a touch, look up and then find a team-mate.

There was a moment before half-time when he chased back the length of the pitch to retrieve the ball from Stevan Jovetic just as City were looking like doing something dangerous.

“Go on, Jack,” was the shout from behind me. First-name terms are only offered to a few in football.

Colback has it in him to become a great Newcastle United player. Not Alan Shearer great. Not Peter Beardsley great, but a skillful midfielder with a first-class attitude who can tackle and pass is rare.

Martin O’Neill is no bad judge of a player and he thought in Colback he had a gem on his hands. If only the kid would make more runs into the opposition penalty box.

Just like the one he did last season in a move which ended in him finding the top corner with his left foot in the 3-0 derby game.

Colback has a tendency to hang about the box rather than get himself in there. If he can sort this out, his game will be taken to a new level.

He is also a good guy.

Sunderland fan may not agree given what went down over the summer, but this is a footballer with his feet on the ground and now at the club he always wanted to play for.

Colback said: “The debut felts bittersweet really. It was a great occasion for me to play here.

“The atmosphere was brilliant but we’ve come away without any points so it’s disappointing.

“I don’t think we deserved to be beaten. Their only two chances were the goals they scored.

“We just need to show a bit more composure in front of goal. That’s what happens when you play teams like City, they have those kind of players who can punish you.

“There are plenty of promising signs. We’ve competed with them for 90 minutes. We have to take the positives out of it and to take that into next week.

“We have to do this every week, regardless of who we play. There is no point upping our game against the better teams and then not performing against the so-called lesser sides otherwise we lose games.

“You gain nothing for a pat on the back in this league. We need to make sure we are winning games, but if we apply ourselves like we did on Sunday I’m sure we can get some good results.”

With Colback in the team and in that form, Newcastle just might have a good season.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer