Friends Tait and Beardsley go head to head once again

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WHATEVER the result of Wednesday night’s NFA Senior Cup final between Blyth Spartans FC and Newcastle United Reserves, managers Mick Tait and Peter Beardsley will meet for a drink afterwards – a non-alcoholic one for the latter of course – to renew a friendship that has spanned more than three decades in the game.

Both Geordies and products of the prolific Wallsend Boys Club, the more senior of the pair, Tait, had established himself across the Pennines at Carlisle United before the arrival of Beardsley at Brunton Park in 1979.

How such a prodigious talent had gone unnoticed by the country’s top clubs still baffles the Blyth manager.

“Even then he was too good for that level, you could see straight away in training that he had everything,” Tait said.

“He was an outstanding footballer and the best I’ve played with or against.”

Despite fulfilling different roles on the pitch, Tait believes his days were numbered in Cumbria when Bob Moncur offered Beardsley his first professional contract.

He said: “He was good with the ball and I was good without it.

“If he had not signed then maybe I wouldn’t have been sold to Hull, but you don’t mind being replaced by somebody that good.”

A teenage Beardsley was grateful that Tait was around long enough for his settling in period, describing him as the ‘perfect role model’.

Beardsley said: “He took me under his wing and I learnt a lot from him, his attitude was excellent and he led by example.”

They went on to face each other throughout their careers.

In one such meeting Newcastle were the visitors to Portsmouth’s Fratton Park, with Beardsley scoring a memorable goal to silence the Pompey Chimes.

Tait said: “It was a wonder goal that only he could score.

“The ball was chipped over my head and I just saw him run on to it and beat three or four of our players, including the keeper along the goal-line, before tapping it in to an empty net.”

Almost 20 years after Tait’s departure from Carlisle the pair would be re-united at Hartlepool United.

Tait was manager at Victoria Park and couldn’t believe his luck when the board told him of their ambition to tempt Beardsley away from Fulham.

He said: “Signing him hadn’t really crossed my mind because I didn’t think it would be a possibility, but the board were very confident and when you’re offered a player like that you don’t say no.”

Beardsley was also keen to work with his former colleague, stating: “The only reason I joined Hartlepool was because of Mick Tait.”

Once again their spell together would be brief, with Tait leaving the club shortly after signing his former team-mate.

Beardsley was even offered the vacant manger’s position but turned it down out of respect for his old pal.

And now looking forward to Wednesday night, both will be hoping it is their team lifting the Senior Cup at St James’ Park in the showcase final.

Beardsley saw his Reserve side suffer a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Spartans in a friendly match at Newcastle’s Benton training ground in December.

He said: “They played really well that day and our lads were a bit shell-shocked after the first half as we couldn’t cope with the physical side of it.

“In the second half we really came in to it and the score-line was slightly unfair on us in the end.”

Beardsley added: “Our lads don’t get the chance to play at St James’ very often and it will be a great occasion for both sets of players.

Tait realises his side are the underdogs as they look to get their hands on a trophy they have not lifted for 17 years.

He said: “We don’t want to go there to make up the numbers, we want to win it.

“A piece of silverware will be a great way to round off what has been a good season for us.”