A new book looking at one of Newcastle United’s most ‘famous’ seasons in the Premier League is set to hit the shelves.
‘Touching Distance’ looks at the 1995/96 season and how the Magpies came agonisingly close to winning the league, in the end letting slip a 12-point lead.
North east sports writer Martin Hardy spent more than a year writing the book, talking to all the key people involved in assembling the side.
But he begins the story going further back, to Kevin Keegan’s time as a player in the black and white stripes from 1982 to 1984, and then his return as manager in 1992 as the club faced relegation to the third tier of English football.
Martin, who lives in Whitley Bay, said: “I felt that some of the comments made about that season, such as they couldn’t defend or Kevin Keegan lost the mind games, were harsh on Newcastle United.
“I wanted to tell the full story of the 95/96 season from the players involved and encapsulating the magical time for the city.
I wanted to tell the full story of the 95/96 season from the players involved and encapsulating the magical time for the cityMartin Hardy
“The book has already created a stir. It’s taken me a lot of work and takes Newcastle fans back to a golden period in the club’s history.”
Martin spent hours talking to nearly 30 people involved in the promotion push and then the title challenge, including Sir John Hall, Keegan, Terry McDermott, Pavel Srnicek, Robbie Elliott, Faustino Asprilla, Philippe Albert, Brian Kilcline, and David Kelly.
Although his first interview was with North Shields FC manager Graham Fenton, whose two goals for Blackburn Rovers against United in the run-in for the 1995/96 season put a dent in the title hopes.
Martin said: “I spent five hours talking to Terry McDermott.
“Once you sat down with someone, you just couldn’t stop them talking about that season. Philippe Albert says he still gets goosebumps looking back at his time at United.”
‘Touching Distance’ is out on July 30, priced at £18.99 for hardback.
For more information visit www.touchingdistance.com or via twitter @mhardysport
Martin will be holding a talk about his book at 42nd Street, Whitley Bay, on August 14. He will be joined by former Newcastle United winger Keith Gillespie.
Doors open at 7pm. Tickets, costing £10, are available from the venue or by calling 07742 936570