By Josh Powell
In an interview with Geoff Shreeves on Sky Sports at the start of the year Demba Ba revealed the barmy secret to his success is strawberry syrup. The unique diet must be working because Newcastle’s star-striker went on to open the scoring in a 3-0 win against Manchester United that very weekend.
Now Sir Alex Ferguson’s team return to St James’ Park and Ba will be looking to add to his tally of six goals in six games against a shaky Reds defence. He is 13/2 to open the scoring in Sunday’s big game and 2/1 to find the onion bag at any time.
Here at the Paddy Power Blog, we’ve had a look at some of Newcastle’s most famous strikers and awarded them with their very own strawberry syrup rating.
Kevin Keegan 1982-1984
84 appearances and 49 goals
KK joined Newcastle from Southampton for £100,000 and became a Toon hero. His 27 goals in the 1983-84 League campaign saw Newcastle get promoted from the Second Division and into the top flight for the first time in six years. He left Newcastle a hero and went on win the Division One title and come runners-up twice in the Premier League with them as manager. The only thing that lets down his syrup rating is that silly perm.
Micky Quinn 1989-1992
110 appearances and 77 goals
Micky Quinn joined Newcastle for £680,000 from Portsmouth and was prolific in front of goal. He scored 34 league goals in his first season with the Magpies and was the league’s top scorer but they missed out on promotion after being beaten by Sunderland. Despite scoring on average two goals every three games Quinn struggled with injury and fell out with manager Kevin Keegan before being sold to Coventry so his strawberry syrup rating takes a hit.
Andy Cole 1993-1995
85 appearances and 68 goals
Newcastle broke the club transfer record to bring Andy Cole to Tyneside for £1.75 million in February 1993. He scored 12 goals in 12 games as Newcastle gained promotion. He scored 41 goals in the 1993-94 season breaking the club’s goalscoring record and was the PFA Young Player of the Year. His 80% strike rate puts his syrup rating right up there but his shock move to rivals Manchester United was never going to go down well with Newcastle fans so he gets a seven.
Les Ferdinand 1995-1997
84 appearances and 50 goals
Les Ferdinand donned the Newcastle shirt after a £6million move from QPR in 1995. He scored 29 goals in his first season at the club and should have been part of the Premier League winning team after the magpies blew a 12 point lead and lost the 1995-96 title to Manchester United. He had a 60% strike rate with the club, won two runners-up medals on Tyneside and is still held in high regard by the fans.
Alan Shearer 1996-2006
405 appearances and 206 goals
Kevin Keegan smashed the world transfer record fee by bringing Alan Shearer to Newcastle United for £15million in 1996 and a club legend was born. Shearer had 10 glorious years at St James’ where he won a Premier League runners-up medal and two FA Cup runners-up medals. He was the 1997 PFA Player of the Year and holds the record for the most goals ever for Newcastle United with 206. The English centre-forward is a Newcastle legend and the bar at St James’ Park was officially named ‘Shearer’s Bar’ in 2004.
Michael Owen 2005-2009
79 appearances and 30 goals
Michael Owen was one of England’s brightest talents and came to Newcastle from Real Madrid for a club record £16.8million. Unfortunately he was blighted by injury and only managed 79 appearances for the club with a strike rate of 38%. That means the club paid over £212,500 for every appearance he made and each goal he scored cost Newcastle £560,000. Maybe if he drank more strawberry syrup the injury-prone striker wouldn’t be so disliked on Tyneside.
Papiss Cisse 2012 – present
22 appearances and 14 goals
27-year-old Papiss Cisse joined Newcastle on a five-and-a-half year deal in January this year and made an immediate impact. In 14 league games he scored 13 goals giving him a strike rate of 93%. It only took him seven games to net his first five goals which was the fastest of any Newcastle player since Les Ferdinand and he got the goal of the season award for that beauty against Chelsea. Sadly for Cisse this season has not been so successful and he is still without a league goal in six games.
Demba Ba 2011 – present
43 appearances and 32 goals
Demba Ba is the man responsible for the strawberry syrup diet and with six goals in six games this season it can’t be doing him any harm. The Senegalese striker tops the Premier League goalscorers chart this year and scored an exquisite volley against Reading last week. With 16 goals in 34 league games last year he was voted the best signing of the summer by Premiership managers and has developed a great relationship up front with Papiss Cisse.