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Perfect partner for Supermac; John Tudor a Seventies star of St James' Park tells of his times in his autobiographical King For A Day.

THERE have been many great strike partnerships in the history of Newcastle United, but up there with the best of them has been the Malcolm Macdonald-John Tudor pairing.

It was just before Christmas in 1970 when John Tudor, a Sheffield United player was interrupted while playing a round of golf and rushed back to Bramall Lane, the Blades ground and informed Newcastle United wanted to sign him.

Apparently, he must have felt a bit chilly about the move at first because, in a new autobiography, he says that all he knew about Newcastle was that it was in the "frozen North, a place I had never visited".

But soon the idea of playing in front of 50,000 fanatical Geordies at St James Park started to win him over and the final piece of the jigsaw arrived when in strolled a man looking like a member of the Mafia, Joe Harvey.

Tudor was quickly drawn to this likeable man who spoke with a Yorkshire accent, "tinged with the odd Geordie expression".

The deal was goalkeeper John Hope and winger David Ford leaving St James's for Sheffield and John Tudor and pounds 75,000 coming back up the Great North Road.

It blew Tudor's mind mixing with 'Jinky' Jim Smith ("He was a wizard with the ball"; Bryan 'Pop' Robson ("He could turn on a tanner and scored goals for fun") and Bobby Moncur ("A colossus of a defender").

But nothing could prepare him for meeting the Geordie faithful - the fans - and he still gets a tingle thinking about it.

So his Newcastle life took off on a contract of pounds 85 a week, plus an appearance fee of pounds 25 per game. Crowd and league position bonuses could make his wage up to pounds 200 a week - a tidy sum in those days.

But Tudor was to be shocked at the state of the St James' Park pitch. He soon found out - as the rest of Tyneside already knew - you don't replace the divots, you just fill the holes with sand. It was a disgrace, he said, the worst pitch he had ever played on as a professional.

But it was the following season when John Tudor was to blossom, alongside a super striker who was to benefit unimaginably from the guile of his game. Malcolm Macdonald, or Golden Bollocks, as John says he was known in the dressing room, arrived in the close season.

"I realised he was a sprinter and played in short bursts to devastating effect," said Tudor. In training he would soon be two yards ahead of Supermac, but after 25 yards Supermac had overtaken him and was pulling away. Between them they scored goals for fun, they were great on their own, but together they were unstoppable.

"Mal and I hit it off straight away and our relationship on and off the field was good. I could sense what Mal was going to do most of the time."

Tudor reveals in the book that he and Malcolm once planned to score direct from kick off. "We tried this once in a pre-season friendly against St Johnston which we won by a bagful of goals. I watched their keeper concentrating on his warm up exercises on the edge of the penalty area.

"I nodded at Mal and shouted, 'Let's go for it!' I passed the ball to him from kick-off and he hit it with his famous left foot. The ball sailed into the air towards goal."

All the hapless keeper could do was run backwards towards his own goal line, stumble and finish on his knees in the six yard box as the ball sailed into the net.

"We tried it again a few times but never got as much fun out of it as we did that day," added Tudor who left Newcastle for Stoke City in 1976 before moving on to play for Gent in Belgium. Finally hanging up his boots because of injury he spent some time coaching in the USA. During his days on Tyneside he spent time coaching local teams and even had a spell as player coach with Gateshead.

The book - King For A day - is published by Limelight Classic Productions Limited and is on sale for pounds 10 at the Back Page sports and football memorabilia shop at 56 St Andrew's Street, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 5SF. Telephone 0191 2615005.

ON THE PROWL John Tudor could show a deft touch


FLYING John Tudor heading a brilliant goal against Nottingham Forest - before the FA ordered a replay due to a pitch invasion. 1974 TEXACO CUP WINNERS Back left, Frank Clark, Alex Bruce, Paul Cannell, Malcolm Macdonald, John Tudor, Ray Hudson. Front Micky Burns, Alan Kennedy, Irving Nattrass, Iam McFaul, Pat Howard, Dennis Laughton ON THE PROWL John Tudor could show a deft touch
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 11, 2011
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