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Not quite a trip into the unknown - Bob Moncur

By Lee Ryder on Oct 31, 06 02:47 PM

Bob MoncurBob Moncur today revealed how times have changed when it comes to big European away nights.

Moncur, of course, is the last captain to lift a trophy for Newcastle when he hoisted the Fairs Cup back in 1969.

And as we stepped on to the GNER train from Central Station to London for the first leg of the long journey to Palermo today Moncur admitted that Euro nights have changed dramatically.

In the first of Moncur's exclusive Italian Diary entries on Blog of the Tyne, the former Scotland captain told me on the journey to London to catch our flight: "I have to admit there aren't too many household names in the Palermo side, but that doesn't mean we don't know much about them.

"When you compare it to my time as a player in the Fairs Cup it has changed so much.

"For instance we pulled out Feyenoord in the first stage and although the Rotterdam club have plenty of history behind them, you couldn't just go online or get easy access to their recent form via one of the many sports TV channels we have these days.

"That gives the players of today a chance to have a little look of them too as well as the scouts, they can really do their own scouting if you think about it and get their heads around the opponents to see what they can expect, it's a good thing.

"I think if you looked hard enough you could find highlights packages of most of Europe's Leagues these days but not then.

"It was a case of somebody scouting them and making the journey over there, we just had to play to our strengths and believe ourselves that way."

The road to glory for Moncur and Co back in 1969 saw his side see off the Dutch side before victories over Sporting Lisbon, Real Zaragoza, Vitoria Setubal, Glasgow Rangers and finally Hungarians Újpesti Dózsa.

This time around United have already beaten Ventspils, Levaida Tallinn and Fenerbahce in the UEFA Cup proper after beating Lillestrom in the Intertoto Cup.

But against Palermo Moncur admits United have their toughest test yet.

He said: "It's going to be about as tough as it could get.

"Palermo are a side who could go all the way to the final.

"If a side wins at AC Milan at the San Siro, they simply have to be good.

"They had no problems beating West Ham in the last round and made it look easy.

"And they do have some excellent players.

"Craig Moore will know all about Mark Bresciano from his Australian international days and Fábio Simplício, the Brazilian lad, showed West Ham what he could do in the last round.

"But as a team they do gel well together and that's why they are joint top with Inter in Serie A."

Catch up with Bob again tomorrow for the next entry into his Italian Diary on Blog of the Tyne.

For information on regular services to London from Newcastle visit www.gner.co.uk

2 Comments

Any O Brien said:

Hope moncurs magic rubs off in Palermo but i doubt it

Ian said:

Those days seem a long time ago

I wonder how many of the current team know the fine history from players down the years?

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Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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