Date: 29th August 2009 at 6:02pm
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In a revealing interview, far removed from plastic Geordies like Carrick, Charlton, Bruce and Robson (see the common Manchester United denominator…) Steve Howard has talked ahead of his visit to SJP on Monday with Leicester about his love for Newcastle. Howard follows Brian Laws and Lee Clark in recent games as boyhood fans returning to Gallowgate and said:

‘I played there (at SJP) when I was with Derby when we were in the Premier League and it was an amazing experience. My whole family was there and it was a very special day for all of us. I had two main ambitions and I fulfilled them both, to play at Wembley, which I did with Derby in the play-off final, and to play at St James’ Park.

All my family are born and bred in Newcastle in the Byker area and they are all mad keen Newcastle fans. I had a season ticket for a couple of years but I eventually had to give it up when I started playing on Saturdays. My dad took me to my first game when I was probably about eight years-old. I don’t remember much about it except I was stood in the Gallowgate End of the ground and the atmosphere was amazing.

My hero in those days was Peter Beardsley and then later on it was Alan Shearer. They are legends. Beardsley had amazing skills. He could produce something out of nothing. He had this little shimmy and you knew what was coming but the defenders still couldn’t stop him. I was lucky enough to play with him at Hartlepool and he was an amazing professional. I grew up hearing all the stories about the Newcastle number nines and of Super Mac who was my dad’s favourite player. My dad used to say he was a proper centre forward who could score from anywhere and could beat defenders up.

The supporters are the most passionate I have ever experienced. They turn up week in, week out and they live and die for their football. That is all they talk about in Newcastle. Everywhere you go the talk is of football and Newcastle.

They really love the game that much. I should go back more often than I do because I always enjoy going back up there. I was devastated when they went down last season. For a club like Newcastle to go down just proved you can’t take anything for granted in football. Just because you are a big club like Newcastle doesn’t mean you can drop your standards.

I really felt for the fans who buy their tickets every week. The one hope I have is that they will sort out their problems and bounce back stronger than ever. The potential is massive at the club and I believe one day they will fulfil that potential. I think they should appoint Shearer as manager. He is the man to take the club forward and get them back into the Premier League. He will sort it all out.’