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The Falcons That Time Forgot

By Leipziger
February 10 2006

A team of former Newcastle players whose names you may not have heard in a while, and some of which you might need to really rack your brain about!


15 David Richardson

Born 27/5/1980, Debut v Glasgow (H) 10/8/2001, Last match v Gloucester (A) 18/5/2002 (r).

Appearances: 10 (3).  Points: 5 (1P, 1C).

This young full-back came through our youth system to play a part in the 2001/02 season, his debut coming in Richard Arnold’s testimonial.  Richardson played several Premiership and Heineken Cup matches that year, but in the summer of 2002 he suffered an injury and along with David Walder missed the whole of 2002/03, not even making the last few matches like Walder did.  Richardson moved on in the summer of 2003.



14 Darryl Lilley

Born 17/9/1974, Debut v Leeds (H) 15/2/2004, Last match v Sale (A) 23/4/2004.

Appearances: 3 (5).  Points: 10 (1T, 1P, 1C).

Kiwi Lilley joined the Falcons in February 2004 on a short term deal from Taranaki, where he had won the Ranfurly Shield.  He scored ten points on his debut against Leeds at Kingston Park, and was a replacement for Joe Shaw in the Powergen Cup Final v Sale at Twickenham.  Lilley had also previously won the 1999 Super 12 with Canterbury.



13 Ross Cook

Born 10/3/1980, Debut v Northampton 20/8/2000, Last match v London Wasps (A) 28/3/2001

Appearances: 7 (2).  Points: 0.

Scottish utility back Ross Cook moved from Northampton in 2000 and only played at KP for a season.  The at-the-time 20-year-old started the first two matches of 2000/01, at wing against Northampton and at full-back v Leicester, but only made five further starts as Michael Stephenson and David Walder were shuffled around the back line, and was last seen playing for Boroughmuir.



12 Paul Baird

Born 22/5/1975, Debut v Bath (A) 13/11/1999 (r), Last match v Dunvant (H) 19/12/2000.

Appearances: 4 (1).  Points: 0.

Another quickie from the south, this South African centre was actually born in Northamptonshire and trialled with the Falcons in late 1999.  Baird played a few European matches but only made one Premiership start, a 15-16 home defeat against Harlequins.  Before visiting England, he had been selected for Transvaal and Western Province.



11 Alex Cadwallader

Born 2/4/1981, Debut v Glasgow (A) 22/8/2003, Last match v Llanelli (A) 29/8/2003 (s).

Appearances: 1 (1).  Points: 5 (1T).

If you blinked, you may have missed this young wing’s Falcons career, as only months after signing he moved to a City job in London.  Signed from Newport, the solid Cadwallader played two friendlies for us, scoring as a replacement at Llanelli, but never made the Premiership XV.



10 Ali Hepher

Born 3/10/1974, Debut and last match v Stellaland (H) 21/11/1994.

Appearances: 1. Points: 3 (1DG).

Yes it’s true, the former long-serving Northampton back played on match for Newcastle Gosforth as a guest against Stellaland of South Africa at KP in 1994, helping the home side to a 27-17 victory.



9 Harley Crane

Debut v Leicester (H) 5/11/1999, Last match v Sale (A) 5/6/2000 (r).

Appearances: 7 (4).  Points: 15 (3T).

Lively scrum half Harley Crane was signed as emergency experienced cover in November 1999 after injuries to Gary Armstrong and Hall Charlton.  The New Zealander made his debut v Leicester opposite James Grindal on a stormy Friday night at KP, and scored two tries in European Shield games and one in the Tetley’s Cup before leaving at the end of the season.



1 Simon Best

Born 11/2/1978, Debut v Saracens (H) 31/10/1998 (r), Last match v Cardiff (A) 8/5/1999 (r).

Appearances: 1 (7).  Points: 0.

This young prop, now an Irish international playing at Munster, played in several C+G Cup games in 1998/99, starting his only Newcastle game against Bath in the quarter-final in March 1999 at KP.  For anyone who remembers that was the game where, when the attendance of only 735 was announced on a rotten afternoon, Steve Bates turned around to applaud the fans.  But anyway, Best made his debut against Saracens in our last match at Gateshead, temporarily replacing Ian Peel, and later came on against Bath and London Scottish before moving away in the search for first-team rugby.



2 Mike Howe

Born 6/11/1973, Debut v London Wasps (H) 12/3/2000 (r), Last match v Toulouse (A) 28/10/2001 (r).

Appearances: 15 (13).  Points: 0.

Signed as cover for long-term injury victim Ross Nesdale, New Zealand-born Howe arrived at Kingston Park from London Irish in March 1999.  He stuck around for a year or two making occasional appearances, though he did the start both 2000/01 and 2001/02 in the first team.  However, in 2002 he left the club after his game time was restricted by the emergence of Nick Makin, Matt Thompson and Christian Balshen, and the signing of Steve Brotherstone.



3 Alan Yates

Born 5/1/1963, Debut and last match v London Wasps (H) 12/3/2000.

Yates, a former Sale, Cardiff and Harlequins prop, must have had one of if not the shortest Falcons careers of the pro era as he was taken off on his debut, a disastrous home defeat by Wasps, at half time and never seen at KP again.  The 37-year-old was signed to cover the absence of Marius Hurter, who was the odd man out of our three foreigners with Va’aiga Tuigamala and John Leslie, at least until the latter was injured.



4 Andrew Springgay

Born 14/8/1981, Debut v Gloucester (A) 18/5/2002 (r), Last match v Bristol (A) 10/11/2002.

Appearances: 1 (1).  Points: 0.

Former youth forward Springgay will probably want to forget his two Falcons appearances – they ended with scores of 60-9 and 38-10 to the oppositions respectively!  His only start, at lock at Bristol in November 2002, was a particular horrific afternoon on which a young Newcastle side leaked over 30 points in the first half alone, and Springgay was the main casualty as after being an unused replacement against Bath the following week, he never made the first XXII again. (Mark’s note – he’s now at Narbonne, and is featured in the picture below taking the lineout ball in the first of their back to back games against Northampton in December).




5 Jimmy Rule

Born 18/8/1978, Debut v Richmond 21/2/1999, Last match v London Wasps 28/3/2001.

Appearances: 17 (13).  Points: 0.

Rule, an athletic and tall lock, was part of the Falcons’ first team squad for a couple of years but only rarely made the team, with only 17 of his 30 appearances coming in the Premiership.  His league debut came at Northampton in March 1999, when he and Tom May got a rough introduction as the away side were routed 16-57.  Rule left Kingston Park in the summer of 2001 as the club streamlined the squad ready for the Heineken Cup.



6 Rob Devonshire

Born 13/1/1981, Debut v Sale (A) 6/5/2000 (r), Last match v Treviso (A) 7/12/2002 (r).

Appearances: 20 (22).  Points: 0.

Although Devonshire, a nippy back rower, did make a fair few appearances for the Falcons, half were as a replacement and he was never able to hold down a first team place.  The young man’s moment of glory came on February 24th 2001, when after a commanding performance at blindside against Bath a fortnight earlier, Devonshire was chosen ahead of Richard Arnold at 6 for the Tetley’s Cup Final v Harlequins at Twickenham, although he was replaced by Arnold in the second half.  After Christmas 2002 he never made the first team and left in the summer of 2003, one of the casualties of an awful season.



7 Jimmy Cartmell

Born 8/1/1977, Debut v Cardiff (H) 22/11/1998, Last match v London Wasps (A) 28/3/2001.

Appearances: 34 (16).  Points: 45 (9T).

The highest appearance-maker in this team, Cartmell was a quiet young flanker who did the simple things well, scored important tries but was never a star who would make the top of the game.  First coming into the team in late 1998, he forced Rob Andrew to move Richard Arnold to blindside and kept Peter Walton out of the team for a while, and came off the bench in the 1999 Cup Final at Twickenham v Wasps.  The arrival of Andrew Mower in 2000 pushed Cartmell out of the first-team picture for most of that season, and ironically had he stuck around for 2001/02 he may have come in useful through Mower’s injuries since then.

I think we can see a trend here, with Cook and Rule also ending their Falcons careers on March 28th 2001.



8 Jim Jenner

Born 27/11/1971, Debut v Northampton (H) 20/8/2000 (r), Last match v Saracens (A) 15/4/2001 (r).

Appearances: 20 (8).  Points: 15 (3T).

Although Jenner only played one season at KP, the powerful back row forward will always have a special place in every Falcon’s heart after scoring the hugely important third try in the 2001 Cup Final v Harlequins at Twickenham, which kept us in with a chance of winning.  Jenner had a big part to play in the whole season, our best since 1998, taking over the number 8 role full time after Ross Beattie’s injury sustained in the semi-final against Sale.



Total starts of this team: 241.  That is only 59 more than Jamie Noon has made. 

As you can see, I really struggled with the flankers, but I thought I should have one really big player in, and I’m sure not many people have thought about Jimmy Cartmell recently.


All photos are from my programme collection (apart from Mark's Narbonne picture)


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