Over the years some players have come and gone at Newcastle United without leaving as much as a trace, some are recognised for their longevity, some for a goal they scored or their outrageous ability.
Take someone like a John Anderson or Steve Harper not spectacular at what they did but valued for their commitment to the cause and hard work. The other side of the coin are those like a Jonathan Woodgate or David Ginola who weren’t here for long but the impact they made will always be remembered due to their sublime ability on the field.
The above attained their rightful prominence in Newcastle United’s history due to the reasons explained, but what about those who fall somewhere in between? Players that manage to stick out in the memory, who evoke fond recollections of time spent watching Newcastle United who wouldn’t make most fans all-time best eleven but who you’d want to buy a pint or see a stand named after, a proper cult hero.
Best example I can think of in terms of a cult hero, and there are many, would be someone like David ‘Ned’ Kelly. The guy worked so hard and come up with the goods when it mattered, just mention ‘that goal v Pompey’ to anyone that was there or supporting the Club around that time and you get the same puff of the cheeks and shake of the head response, wow! I mean the guy was applauded whilst playing for sunderland against us, that’s no mean feat!
Anyway, before I go into writing a love letter style rambling about David Kelly, the player I want to talk about is a certain Scott Sellars. For me ‘Salty’ was the first Newcastle player that really grabbed my attention in terms of ability. Cliched as it sounds, he had a sublime left foot.
I’d witnessed my first World Cup in the summer of 1990 with the likes of Waddle, Gazza, Beardsley and Lineker so I had an idea what a good player looked like on telly but Scott Sellars was the first that had stood out having seen him with my own eyes.
My first season going to St. James’ Park was 1992/93. At the time I was a 9-year-old football nut, wake up, Toon top on under my school jumper, football in the schoolyard at every opportunity, home for tea, school jumper off and outside to kick a ball around the garages out at the front of where I lived. I’d study my match programmes, cut clippings out of the newspapers, I knew what boots each player wore, who their kits were sponsored by the lot. You could say my obsession with all things Newcastle United was really taking hold during this time.
1992/93 had been a great season, Newcastle sitting at the top of the table after winning the first 11 games, there were a couple of rocky patches but only history kept the fans nervous that promotion somehow might not happen – I was too young to have any baggage in terms of failed promotion attempts, that and youthful exuberance meant I pretty much took it for granted it would happen.
Scott Sellars a left midfielder/winger was signed in the March of the 1992/93 season for the final push for promotion. He was signed from Leeds who were Division 1 champions the previous season. Before that he played for Blackburn and actually scored against us in 1990 in a game we lost 2-0, a result which knocked our promotion aspirations that season (all is forgiven).
Prior to Sellars’ arrival my favourite players had been Lee Cark, Gavin Peacock and Pavel Srnicek in nets but the impact Sellars had replacing Kevin Sheedy had me dazzled. Signed on 9th of March 1993 Sellars was in the team on the 10th for a 2-2 draw at home to Charlton where his free kick was headed in by David Kelly to make it 2-1. Keegan was building team ready for the Premier League, Andy Cole was signed from Bristol City soon after and he and Sellars struck up a great partnership crossing in from the left-hand side and Cole finishing the way he did best, magic!
2 goals in 13 appearances didn’t tell the whole story of Sellars’ initial impact on the team and the Club as we edged closer to promotion. He had a hand in David Kelly’s goal in the following match at Swindon, he set up Robert Lee’s equaliser in the 2-2 draw at home to Birmingham after being 2 goals down. He also scored in the 6-0 drubbing of Barnsley at St. James’ Park.
But the reason I love Scott Sellars so much is the goal he scored on Sunday 25th April 1993 my first Tyne-Wear derby. I was sat on a concrete crush barrier in the Gallowgate End in the pissing down rain, I was absolutely drenched – not that it mattered! It was said that the game would have been called off had it not been a derby match.
The pitch was covered in puddles, players were sliding all over, the shirts looked heavy on the players backs but on 10 minutes Newcastle won a freekick on the edge of the area at the Leazes End. Paul Bracewell stood in front of the ball with Rob Lee and Scott Sellars hovering over to take. Sellars stepped up curling a shot with his wand of a left foot over the sunderland wall in off the post. A goal worthy of winning any game. The best part of the goal is the sunderland keeper Tony Norman being sent the wrong way from about 25 yards out, beautiful!
Watch highlights on Marc Corby’s YouTube channel Newcastle 1980 – 1994 here
Sellars’ ability with his left foot meant during that time and into the following season he was one of if not the best left sided midfielders in the country, and that’s no exaggeration. Promotion was achieved in 1992/93 and whilst the likes of Kelly, Clark, Lee, Howey et al quite rightly received the plaudits Keegan had played a master stroke by bringing Sellars and Cole in for the run in with their invaluable contributions, helping the team win 8 of the last 12 games.
For me Sellars carried on his good start to life at Newcastle United in the 1993/94 season, we actually won a sequence of 9 games in a row in which Sellars’ featured at the tail end of 1992/93 and the beginning of 1993/94. We won the last 5 at the end of 1992/93 and Sellars’ first 4 starts of the following season.
Sellars went on to score 5 goals that season but is probably being best remembered in 1993/94 for the goals he set up for Andy Cole in his hattrick against Liverpool at St. James’ Park. He was an integral part of the side dubbed ‘The Entertainers’ with his hard-working wing play and ability to find a striker in the box with some fantastic crosses, a lost art these days.
Injury hampered any further progress at Newcastle, he was out with an unspecified illness during 1993 and the team improved massively upon his return. It was no coincidence that the wheels come off our season in 1994/95 when he got injured in November 1994.
When you look at the games in which Sellars started beginning with a 2-1 win at Millwall on April 17th 1993, Newcastle won 32 of the 46 games before being injured in a 0-2 defeat at Old Trafford on 29th October 1994, staggering! That Man U result kick started an awful run of only 2 wins in 13 and a drop from top spot to 5th as well as UEFA and League Cup exits within weeks of Sellars’ absence.
Sellars was replaced by David Ginola in 1995/96, his last appearance before being sold to Bolton was a 1-1 draw v Spurs on 29 October 1995. Both Sellars and Ginola were in the Newcastle team that day, a bit of a changing of guard moment mirrored by David Kelly and Andy Cole v Leicester on May 9th 1993 which was indicative of Keegan’s desire to always improve what he had.
In Keegan’s time as manager first time round the left midfield progressed from an ageing Kevin Sheedy to an outstanding Scott Sellars to David Ginola who when he first arrived was simply out of this world which you could say is testament to how good Sellars was that it took a superstar to replace him.
True Faith were lucky enough to speak to Scott Sellars himself for the podcast, FREE to listen on Patreon here
PAUL LYON – True Faith @lyon1892
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