THE Jets hope a pep talk from one of Newcastle’s greatest footballing heroes will help get their season back on track against Sydney FC tomorrow.
Jets chairman Ray Baartz said former Liverpool star Craig Johnston, arguably the greatest player Australia has produced, would attend the match at Hunter Stadium to support his home-town team.
Depending on his commitments, Johnston is expected to address Newcastle’s players either at training today or on game day.
‘‘Craig’s my guest in the chairman’s lounge,’’ Baartz said.
‘‘He’s playing in the Jack Newton Celebrity Challenge [golf tournament], and he’s got to go back to Sydney on Friday, and we’re trying to work a time when he can talk to the team.
‘‘We’re not sure if it will be feasible. Craig would prefer to talk to them at training, but he is receptive to maybe talking to them before the game.’’
During his eight seasons at Anfield, Johnston played in 190 first-team games and won five first-division championships, an FA Cup, two League Cups and the European Cup.
To put that into context, Johnston has won more top-class club honours than all Socceroos put together.
In 2010, he told the Newcastle Herald that his two stints as guest player with his home-town team, KB United, remained career highlights that ranked alongside anything he achieved in England.
‘‘To me, that was as important as winning championships or the FA Cup or the European Cup,’’ Johnston said at the time.
‘‘I played for Liverpool but I am not from Liverpool – there is a big difference.
‘‘To be able to come back from England and represent Newcastle, my home town, and play alongside people like Joe Senkalski and [Col] ‘‘Bunny’’ Curran, who I idolised, in front of 15,000 or 20,000 at the old International Sports Centre, as it was known back then, was a very humbling and personal experience.
‘‘Of all the things I was lucky enough to achieve, in my lifetime, playing for KB was definitely up there in the top five.’’