Paul tells tales of heaven and hell on football pitch

Paul Cannell with his newly published book 'F**kin' Hell, It's Paul Cannell'.
Paul Cannell with his newly published book 'F**kin' Hell, It's Paul Cannell'.
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FORMER Newcastle United star Paul Cannell has put pen to paper to give fans an insight into life as a striker for the Magpies back in the 1970s.

Paul Cannell played for his home town club between 1972 and 1978, scoring 19 goals in 62 games, before jetting out to the US for four seasons.

After his playing days ended, he went on to hold down a career as a pub landlord, giving him the opportunity to regale regulars with tales from the turf on both sides of the Atlantic.

Now he has given up pub management too, he no longer has a bar full of customers to entertain with his football anecdotes, so he has put his memories in print instead.

In his self-published book, entitled “F*****’ Hell it’s Paul Cannell”, he talks about how Joe Harvey, Newcastle United’s manager from 1962 to 1975, talked him out of a potential law career and joining rivals Sunderland to head for St James’s Park.

Paul, making a name for himself with England schoolboys at the time, was considering studying law at Durham University when Sunderland signed him up on schoolboy terms.

“Joe came to see me at my parents’ house and said he wanted to sign me,” recalled Paul.

“I said I was going to university, but he said what if I looked back and thought ‘could I have made it as a professional footballer?’ He told me that if I signed, I could always go back to university. I thought that was logic. His man-management was like nothing else.”

Paul made his league debut against Manchester City, later becoming the punchline for one of Jasper Carrott’s jokes and the inspiration for a terrace chant, as well as providing a title for his book.

The 59-year-old, now living in North Shields, said: “After my football career, I ran a number of pubs. I used to have the Queen Alexandra pub in North Shields for years and told the customers my stories.

“When I gave up the pub, I had nothing to do, so I thought I’d write a book.”

Paul finished writing his autobiography three months ago and has already seen it sell hundreds of copies in America and here in the north east.

The 158-page book looks back at his career with Newcastle United and his time in the US, as well as his career after football and occasional run-ins with the law.

It includes anecdotes about the famous faces he has played alongside or against including Newcastle United centre forward Malcolm Macdonald, Brazil legend Pele, England goalkeeper Gordon Banks and Manchester United hero George Best.

Among the stories that stick out the most are his Tyne-Wear battle with Sunderland defender Jim Holton and his appearance in the US magazine Sports Illustrated after mooning at a referee, the first time the publication had carried a soccer story.

Paul added: “The reviews I’ve had are fantastic.

Besides the Magpies, Paul played for Washington Diplomats, Memphis Rogues, Detroit Express, Mansfield Town and Berwick Rangers.

He also had a loan spell as a teenager at Whitley Bay.

The book, priced £11.99, is available at www.createspace.com/3822450 and www.amazon.co.uk, as well as at Harvey Smith and Co in Nile Street, North Shields.