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Our place in United history is now assured, thanks to my boy David!

Byline: By John Gibson

A fiercely proud family, the Edgars are already in the record books and delighted that their place in history is assured.

Eddie and David Edgar are only the second father and son to play for Newcastle United's first team in more than 100 years of earnest endeavour in black-and-white.

That is a monumental achievement in itself, but since it came to pass when David was selected to make his Premiership debut at Bolton on Boxing Day, it has got even better.

Because, as we all know, Edgar was thrown into his home debut when Nicky Butt pulled out injured against the might of Manchester United before a packed crowd of 52,000 at St James' on New Year's Day.

And he not only snuffed out the considerable threat of the high-prancing Cristiano Ronaldo, but then proceeded to strike a 25-yard scorcher to earn the Geordie United a 2-2 draw.

Once again playing out of position, this time at left-back, and once again in full view of dad Eddie, who was luckily over from their Canadian home on a business trip.

Happy holidays? You betcha!

Just a short while ago all David had to look forward to was possibly going out somewhere on loan, and such was the uncertainty of his future that Edgar's contract was due to run out at the end of the season and Newcastle had made no move to secure a new deal.

Still haven't, as it happens.

David, only 19 and sixth-choice centre-half at the beginning of the season, was a rookie deservedly, if unbelievably, voted man-of-the-match against Manchester United with a visit to the sponsors' lounge to receive their homage one of his after-match duties, and the recipient of a text the next morning from Alan Shearer no less.

"Shearer stressed it wasn't just for his goal but for a terrific performance over the 90 minutes as well," dad Eddie told me.

"David was delighted ( Shearer's a legend isn't he? And I agree with Alan. What I was really pleased about wasn't so much the spectacular equaliser, but the way David played defensively.

"He took care of Ronaldo, who many probably thought would destroy him, and that's how David is going to earn his money. Not scoring goals."

Eddie may have blazed the family trail to St James' Park but his experience was much less enjoyable ( a solitary game against Brian Clough's First Division champions Derby County at the Baseball Ground in the sixth round of the FA Cup, when a severely weakened Newcastle crashed 4-2.

To make matters worse Bruce Rioch's fiercely-hit free-kick which ripped into United's net was shown during the credits at the beginning of Match of the Day for what seemed like an eternity, season after season.

That fateful day was in 1976 and David's debut late in 2006 meant the Edgars join the Wilsons in United's distinguished history ( Joseph Wilson, a defender, played one game in 1929 and his son Carl, a striker, similarly had one senior outing 29 years later.

Famous fathers whose offsprings also joined United but never quite made the first team include Stan Seymour, Hughie Gallacher, Terry McDermott and Kenny Wharton.

For those who wallow in historical facts there is a strain of family connections throughout the club's history of course ( George and Ted Robledo were the most famous of brothers, both playing in the 1952 FA Cup final for United, while I can readily recall Alan and Keith Kennedy, Ron and Chris Guthrie, and Peter and Chris Withe.

Famously, too, father Charlie Mitten selected son John to play on United's left wing 10 times in the late 1950s when Charlie managed the club with a flamboyance that spawned an abundance of fanciful stories about lame greyhounds getting treatment on the St James' Park physio couch and macho men like Jimmy Scoular being forced to wear shorts with a white stripe round the bottom "like ruddy petticoats" the teak-hard Scot was heard to grumble.

However, in the game of happy families only the Wilsons stand aside the Edgars as the best of a father-and-son combination.

Such is the obvious burden of comparison young David has had to carry that from the day he left his family home in Canada to join his dad's old club, he has been known as Eddie ( a nickname never before used and one hated by a protective father.

Actually it is the original Eddie who envies his son ( and not because on New Year's Day David doubled the number of games dad managed as a Magpie, but because he is a centre-half, a position surprisingly much coveted by Edgar the Elder.

"I hated playing in goal," admitted Eddie somewhat surprisingly in view of his pro career with Newcastle and Hartlepool.

"I loved being a footballer but I never wanted to be a keeper and after I left United my heart went out of playing between the sticks.

"I wanted to be a centre-half, just like our David. I loved being outfield, and I scored a right few goals."

The pride that swells in the chests of parents Eddie and Christine is not confined to exploits on the football field, however fine, but the courage and behaviour of a young son on going to live in what was a foreign land.

"That's what fills me with real admiration," Eddie told me.

"Nobody realises what David had to go through as a 14-year-old off to live in England with his grandma so that he could chase his dream.

"We didn't give him six weeks before he became homesick, but he stuck it out and got his reward.

"It was only afterwards we found out how bad it was at first. A Canadian accent in Jarrow wasn't a badge of honour.

"Barely in his teens, he was surrounded by charvas and was hounded every time he went to the chip shop. But his determination got him where he is today."

A significant bit of help along the way was provided, insists father, by United's academy coach Kenny Wharton.

"Kenny has been great for David," said Eddie. "Why have Newcastle produced so many good young defenders for the first team this season? The answer is obvious ( Kenny was a defender himself ( but he hasn't got the credit he deserves."

Having made his Newcastle breakthrough, Edgar wants to reward a kind-hearted Geordie fan who made his initial introduction to St James' Park such a warm occasion.

"It was when he was six or seven and I took him to a game," recalled Eddie.

"It was on a freezing New Year's Day and I had him on the bollards at the Gallowgate end. I remember Andy Cole and Lee Clark were playing.

"A guy next to us heard David's Canadian accent and got talking. He saw how cold our David was and took off his Newcastle shirt ( one of those old blue ones ( and gave it to us to keep David warm. 'Dad, that man's got no clothes on,' David replied loudly.

"It would be nice to meet the guy again because I know that David would like to give him his match shirt as a belated swap."

The last word on the history-making father and son should go to the elder statesman as a matter of protocol.

"Oh sure, David is a better footballer than I ever was," admitted Eddie. "But he's not a better keeper ( I tried him there once and he was hopeless!"
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 9, 2007
Words:1243
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