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Newcastle United @Toon_Times interviews Jack Shiel

 

Last week (5th December 2013) we were saddened to hear of the passing of Jack Shiel, who at 96 years of age was Newcastle United’s oldest surviving footballer.

Toon Times had the privilege of being invited to his home of over 60 years in Seahouses in 2012, where Jack shared with us many memories of his time at Newcastle United and Huddersfield Town, being in the Navy during World War Two and his long career in the fishing and tour industry.

Jack was quick to point out that ‘I only played one senior game for Newcastle’ (in a defeat away to Barnsley in September 1937) although ‘it was a privilege to be recognised as Newcastle’s oldest player.’ Playing local football in Northumberland, Jack joined Newcastle United in 1936 for a fee of £10 and was a regular for the reserve side. ‘I was paid £4 a week which was big money and done well in the reserve games I played, not like the players now they are very lucky and get paid a fortune but your career is short.’

‘I was happy to play for the reserves as we got hundreds of people coming to watch our games, I done quite well if I can remember. I played that game at Barnsley but I didn’t play my best and found myself back in the reserves but you just got on with it that was what happened then.’ Jack recalled players of his era such as Jack Smith and Billy Cairns with high regard telling us ‘it was different back then, you didn’t see players rolling around on the floor like you do nowadays! We all trained hard and played when and where we were told. I was good friends with Jimmy Denmark and we often came back up to Seahouses to escape the digs and relax.’

When asked about the current team Jack commented ‘I look out for Newcastle’s results and wish they were up at the top of the league like they were under Keegan, I liked him, he wasn’t like that Manchester United manager (Alex Ferguson) he’s always chewing and pointing at his watch, shouting at the referee.…the team now has players from all over the world, in my day we were all local lads or a few from Scotland ’

Jack told us he didn’t have many mementos of his time but lots of memories, newspaper cuttings, photographs and a small players rule book was the sum of his Newcastle United related possessions but it was evident the memories remained clear.

Despite his stint in the reserves and sole appearance Jack was also keen to tell us of his time at Huddersfield Town, showing us club memorabilia including a recent home shirt Jack explained; ‘I went to Huddersfield before the war which was a big move for me at the time, I enjoyed my time there and have happy memories. They wanted me to go back after the war but the wife didn’t want me to go and I wanted to return to fishing.’

Despite Jack’s time in football it is his time spent at sea that he is clearly most proud of. Showing us photos of his yesterday’s Jack spoke passionately about his time in the Navy as well as meeting the Queen and most recently Prince Charles. Jack told us in depth about the boats he has sailed upon and the life he has lived since he hung up his boots.

All in all it was a very humbling experience meeting a Newcastle United player that had done so much in his long life. It was clear to us that Jack was proud of all of his achievements and earns his place in Newcastle United history.

R.I.P Jack Shiel


 

Newcastle United Foundation have a heritage project for fans of all ages called Toon Times.

 

Toon Times will culminate with a major Newcastle United exhibition at the Discovery Museum, Newcastle, although in the lead up to this event Toon Times wishes to reach out to all Newcastle United fans across the North East and further afield to get involved and share their memories, experiences, photos and memorabilia what people have collected over the years.

We are supporting the project by helping to collect NUFC memories online - fans can share their memories on the Replay Football website, simply select the Toon Times tag when submitting yours.

For more info contact the Toon Times Heritage Project Coordinator, Newcastle United Foundation, gavin.ferry@nufc.co.uk

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