When Falcons head coach Alan Tait met with United counterpart Alan Pardew this week, the contrasting fortunes of the two Newcastle sporting clubs must have hit home. Mark Smith reports.
A BUZZING St James’ Park with more than 52,000 supporters had just seen their heroes humbling Premier League champions Manchester United 3-0 on a day Pardew and Tait broke bread.
A new sponsors’ logo adorned the front of the home shirts and Pardew – a Londoner at that – was being praised from all quarters for his canny stewardship of the black-and-white ship.
Eight stops along the Metro to Kingston Park must seem like a million light-years away for Alan Tait, whose Falcons team sit ten points adrift at the bottom of the Aviva Premiership, averaging a tenth of United’s home gate and with a big black space on the chest of their home kit.
It is a tale of two Alans, as Tait himself admits.
“Alan Pardew has built a fantastic outfit there, and when you look at the full stadium, their new sponsorship deal and all the rest of it then you could be forgiven for being a little bit jealous,” he said.
“I think jealousy is the wrong word, in fairness, because we want them to do really well and I am over the moon for Alan and his team.
“It is great for the city and they deserve their success, but I just wish we could have a slice of it at the moment.”
An impromptu chat between the two led to United offering the Falcons their indoor training base in preparation for this afternoon’s visit of Exeter Chiefs, with Pardew attending the rugby session and exchanging ideas.
“There are definitely things we can take from how Alan has handled the job at Newcastle United,” said Tait, who yesterday completed the signing of promising centre Tom Bedford from the second-tier Championship.
“He has gone out there and done the hard work in finding some real top bargains in the transfer market, and that was the way I was always brought up.
“My great rugby league coach Doug Laughton was the same in bringing in the likes of Martin Offiah, Jonathan Davies, Paul Moriarty and myself to Widnes as relative unknowns from rugby union, and he was a brilliant talent-spotter.
“Alan and his scouting team seem to be spot-on in that department. He has got bargains, but they have been the right quality and they have changed his team around. Similarly, I am trying to uncover some gems, and it is all aimed at improving the fortunes of the club.”