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Glenn Roeder: Tribute to a Toon Legend

Player, Captain, Manager. Roeder did it all.

On Sunday, February 28, 2021, Newcastle United lost a club legend in Glenn Victor Roeder, following an 18-year battle with a diagnosed brain tumor. Roeder was born in Essex, London in December, 1955. Considered a confident, ball-playing defender, Roeder made 561 club appearances during his playing career, with the majority of those coming as club captain for Newcastle between 1983 and 1989. In his 6 years at St. James’ Park, Roeder made 193 appearances and even chipped in with 8 goals, with his most notable success taking Newcastle up from the old Second Division in 1984.

Most younger fans though will remember Roeder for his stint as manager of the Magpies from 2005 to 2007. With 15 games of the 2005-2006 season remaining, Newcastle stood 15th in the table, and with Graeme Souness seemingly having lost the dressing room, fans were gearing themselves up for an unexpected relegation battle. Newcastle Chairman, Freddy Shepherd, acted swiftly and decisively by dismissing Souness, however, made the surprising decision to promote Roeder from his then role as Academy Manager to Caretaker Manager for the remainder of the season. Roeder’s Newcastle went on to take 32 points from a possible 45 and climbed the table to finish 7th, qualifying for the now-defunct Intertoto Cup that next season.

Newcastle’s Premiership football team Ma... Photo Credit - AFP/AFP via Getty Images

Despite names like Sam Allardyce, Martin O’Neill and Roberto Mancini being linked with the Toon hot seat in the off-season, Shepherd awarded Roeder a two-year contract to become full-time manager of Newcastle, with Roeder quoted as saying the following upon accepting the job:

“When I came up here as a player, I suppose that having an ambition of managing the team would not have been an option. As I went on, and if you had asked me a couple of years down the line, I would have said I would like to be a manager here one day. Now it has happened it shows that dreams do come true.”

Roeder’s finest hour as Newcastle manager remains winning the 2006 Intertoto Cup, by nature of being the team that progressed furthest in the old UEFA Cup having qualified for it with several other teams via the Intertoto Cup earlier in the season. If that isn’t the most Newcastle United thing you’ll read today, I don’t know what is? Roeder learned of becoming the first Newcastle manager to win a major trophy since the 1969 Fairs Cup upon arriving to our Benton training ground and was quoted as saying the following to the press later that day:

“Someone mentioned it to me at the gate this morning. The lads will be pleased.”

Roeder was indeed the manager that brought key players Obafemi Martins and Damien Duff to Newcastle, and also signed Pavel Srnicek back to Newcastle on a free transfer in September of 2006, as temporary cover for then first-choice keeper, Shay Given. This writer’s favorite memory of Roeder’s time in charge remains our 3-1 home win over Spurs in December 2006, where Shay Given picked up a knock late in the game and big Pav came on to a standing ovation from the Toon Army; a spine-tingling moment.

Arsenal FC V Newcastle United 1994 Photo by Mark Leech/Getty Images

That 2006-2007 close and off-season proved to be an eventful one when in the month of May alone, Newcastle saw Roeder resign after finishing 11th in the league, Sam Allardyce appointed Manager, and Mike Ashley complete his takeover as owner of our beloved club. The rest, as they say, is history.

Roeder may not have been the most glamorous of appointments of that era for Newcastle; managers like Keegan, Gullit and Robson certainly excited Toon fans more. Yet Roeder always put his team first, as a player, captain and manager alike. He commanded so much respect from his players and always wore his heart on his sleeve. Roeder had a quiet, honest and respectful demeanor, very similar to that of Chris Hughton, which endeared supporters to him in droves. So it goes without saying that the outpouring of tributes from former players and colleagues is not surprising. Former player of Glenn Roeder at West Ham, Don Hutchison, summed up Roeder and his caring nature best:

“I will never ever forget when my dad was passing away. The gaffer told me to get in my car to Newcastle and go see him quick. Glenn was on the phone with me for all 5 hours of my journey! Sleep well gaffer. My thoughts are with his family.”

Newcastle United Training Photo by Ian Horrocks/Newcastle United via Getty images

Glenn Roeder always rejected the notion that a Southerner would be as loved by the St. James’ Park faithful as a Geordie by birth would be. Now, despite the fact that the terraces at St James’ Park have stood desolate for almost an entire calendar year, I have a feeling I know what the Gallowgate faithful would sing in unison come our next home game against Aston Villa on March 12th: “He’s one of our own! He’s one of our own! Glenn Roeder! He’s one of our own!” RIP Glenn.