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Newcastle United The Chronicle

It doesn’t seem THAT long ago since John Burridge was between the sticks for Newcastle United.

So maybe it comes as a bit of a surprise that our former goalkeeper isn't far off from collecting his bus pass.

In a sport where keepers are notorious for not being the full shilling, Burridge was perhaps without peers when it came to eccentricity.

Former team-mate Andy Gray described Budgie in one book as being “oddball, crazy, madcap, loony and eccentric”.

Some of us will remember him receiving a hefty boot in the head from Sunderland’s Paul Hardyman after saving the left-back’s penalty in the 1990 play-offs. Burridge was soon back on his feet with the minimum fuss and bother.

The much-travelled keeper had arrived in Toon from Southampton in October 1989, for a bargain £25,000, and the super-fit 38-year-old took over from Tommy Wright and Gary Kelly in goal.

That play-off semi-final, with the possibility of United’s return to the top flight – and the eventual loss to Sunderland – would prove to be the simultaneous high and low point of his Toon career. He was later packed off by new boss Ossie Ardiles in 1991, having made 84 appearances for the black and whites.

His last senior outing came for Blyth against Blackpool in the FA Cup, at the age of 46, and 28 years after his professional debut for Workington.

Incredibly, Budgie turned out for 30 different clubs, North and South of the border, clocking up over 900 senior appearances (often as an emergency keeper later on in his career).

In 2011, the man who had been the archetypal dressing-room joker revealed his battle with depression in an interview with our sister paper, the Sunday Sun.

He said: “When other people were out drinking, I’d be back at home watching Match of The Day and planning for the next game.

“And when I realised I couldn’t play any more, it hit me.”

Newcastle United paid for John’s treatment in the Priory rehab clinic where he faced up to his demons.

In recent years, he has settled in the Middle East and been involved in coaching and TV punditry.

Budgie added: “I loved living in the North East. The further North you go, the more volatile they get. I like volatile, I like that passion.”

 

This article first appeared at http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/history/former-newcastle-united-goalkeeper-who-8216376

Our thanks to @NostalgiaEditor and @EveningChron

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