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Happy birthday to Gibbo the legend

By Lee Ryder on Jan 11, 11 04:07 PM

In a week of gloom, it was certainly good to see our maverick sports writer John "Gibbo" Gibson celebrate his 70th birthday.

Here's a legend who didn't let Stevenage get him too down in the dumps, after all he survived Hereford in 1972 to see the Mags go on and play in the Champions League.

I have to say, in the years I've been covering Newcastle United, this larger than life character seems to hit the nail on the head every time when it comes to the Magpies.

And rightly so, after all we are talking about a bloke who has covered the Magpies for almost SIX decades - and unlike most of us, he's seen the black and whites actually pick up a trophy, back in 1969 when he covered every kick of the Fairs Cup victory.

When people talk about inspirational figures in football journalism, then Gibbo is surely right up there at the top of the tree.

World Cups, Olympics, European Championships, title races, FA Cup finals, huge Test matches - you name it, he's been there and done it.

I remember, in my early days working with both Gibbo and Alan Oliver and being staggered by the chatter and the banter in the old Chronicle office and wondering just where I had landed.

After all, my only association with him before that was reading the Chronicle as a youngster and taking in his unique take on the Mags as a supporter.

Never then did I think one day I would be working alongside him gaining some of the soundest advice available in the industry.

But if I was ever daunted about working alongside him, I shouldn't have been.

Gibbo has always done his job professionally but never lost the same working class mentality of the thousands of readers who enjoy his copy.

Gibbo has never needed flowerly words or patter to cover up his copy, he's straight to the point.

These days the man from West End regularly brings us his Face to Face column and pre and post match views on United - you can only hang on every word.

Gibbo reminded me of a Big Ron Atkinson type figure with all of the trimmings, the big coat, the sun glasses and the cigar - not to mention the swagger!

I think they broke the mould when they made Gibbo and at 70, long it may he continue.

I remember one game pretty early on when I didn't know Gibbo that well, and for some reason I wasn't in the best of moods.

In a flash Gibbo uttered: "Howay son, get your pecker up, you're not in Iraq or Iran, you're covering a football match - this is showbusiness - let's have a smile!"

And with that spirits were lifted before the Magpies ran out winners over Birmingham City.

As I say, he remains an inspiration to us all to have the hunger and the passion to continue covering the Mags.

Congratulations Gibbo.

5 Comments

Jackie Wilko said:

Gibbo ? well paid to watch football no big deal ..Sorry Lee but its hardly the subject for a blog

Chris Gray said:

I think most journos and media types rather enjoy crawling up each others’ rear ends and there is certainly a little of that here but it has to be said John Gibson is a very prominent figure in this region, and his seventieth birthday is worth noting. I can remember him writing about Albert Bennett, Tommy Robson, Dave Elliott, Ben Arentoft and the like, so that tells you I’m not much younger than he is (20 years in fact). Lee Ryder gets a lot of stick on this blog for some of his articles but we have to remember that Newcastle fans need a constant, never-ending stream of stories to feed on. And they have become used to it. As far as I know there have only been three providers in about 45 years: Gibson, Oliver and now Ryder. Put yourself in Lee’s shoes: every day you have to churn out two or three stories even when at times there isn’t much to say. In that context, John Gibson’s 70th definitely merits a bit of fuss.

Benny Arentoft said:

Well done-Lee Ryder

Congratulations to Gibbo and all the best

Benny

Arfur said:

All the best to John Gibson and a little story if I can.
Many years ago in another life I asked John if he could come to Eldon Square and present the winners trophy for a five a side tournament which I had arranged on behalf of charity. Not only did John come and watch the whole tournament and present the winners trophy but he arranged for a former top class referee who had actually once reffed a cup final to officiate for us too.
Top man John and yes Lee, a legend. Arfur

Chris Gray said:

If that really is Benny Arentoft, then which Gibbo is he congratulating? John might be good, but Tommy was one of the greats. IMO.

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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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