Fuckin’ Hell’ It’s Paul Cannell, Ray “Rocky” Hudson, The Tyneside Globetrotters!

Few might remember Paul Cannell and Roy “Rocky” Hudson from the limelight of World football, but they played with and against some of the greats of this game. After going back and into the annals of the NASL, you find stuff you thought was not part of the football history.

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But indeed they are and in a way you start to wonder how football routes and paths are made up and how footballers travels to do their trade and get paid for playing. There are five “big occasions” to talk about, if you support Newcastle United, and they are all back then in the 70’s.

The two well covered are the 1974 FA Cup final and the 1976 League Cup final, two defeats against Liverpool and Manchester City, but in all great Wembley memories. Newcastle United was Malcolm “Super Mac” Macdonald, the only real star at the club at that time, talking the history we all know.

The three other great achievements, winning the “vanished” cup competitions, Texaco Cup (1973) and The Anglo Italian Cup (1974 and 1975). But as time passes by, you start to look back and find those line-up’s, and you start thinking of players that had an impact, but really in the right sentence initially “moved on”.

We all had heard about the phenomena NASL, but it was all about New York Cosmos, The Pele’s, Beckenbauer’s and Cruyff’s. But to field a team in “soccer” you need a squad and other players to fill in, and digging a bit deeper you find some great and astonishing stories.

We never did see any live games since nothing of this was televised and players you had seen in their English kits, were now changed with sparkling colors, real modern design and playing for teams with names more related to the American game of Hockey, Baseball, American Football and Basket.

Little did we know, or cared when players left our favorite teams and “vanished” for other adventures out of the sphere of the English media.

In that other World of Soccer, over in the US, you got some information about players breaking through and taking this league with storm and in some way get a totally different attention becoming stars in “hidden environment” or if you like “the World we didn’t know”.

Going back to those finals of Newcastle United, looking at the line-up’s you find names that you thought, yes can remember them, but they never really got the chance or they just disappeared and started another life.

Hudson and Cannell played against and alongside some of the greatest players in the World, but as they were in their prime and the greats were no longer in their best form, they really shined and equaled those legends, and today are legends themselves in that other World, that we know so little about.

As Paul Cannell tells his story in the biography, Fucking Hell’s, It’s Paul Cannell, he gets back to those great days of the memorable participating of a soccer time of joy. One getting a chapter, is a player few or no one really think of much, not at all as a Newcastle United great or one English football fans can relate big memories to. His name is Ray Hudson, a real hero and legend in the NASL “soccer” World.

Ray Hudson added up a minor tally of 25 league games for Newcastle between the years 1974 to 1977. Paul Cannell and Ray Hudson were both a bit on the fringe at Newcastle United. Cannell reached Wembley being an unused sub in the 1976 League Cup final defeat v. Man City. Cannell and Hudson both played a bit the next season as well, ending 5th in the league and being qualified for the UEFA Cup. Both played a bit in that difficult next season, ending in relegation. Both left the club and started their new and successful adventure in the NASL.  Their talent couldn’t fully flourish as you need games week in and week out to do that. The question will always be, how far could they have reached in the “real world” of football, where the World Cup’s and European Cups still was what counted.

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While superstars and managers did appear and disappeared at Washington Diplomates and Ford Lauderdale Strikers, Paul Cannel and Ray Hudson stayed on being the continuity of the surroundings. The guys that fans could relate to and really get fond of, made them special. Ray Hudson and Paul Cannell might have been the less known players over there, but in the NASL they became stars and outplayed the importance of a number of big names wearing the same jerseys. The legendary Manchester United hero Dennis Violet was the manager of The Dips, and he signed Cannell to lead his attack.

In his first season for the The Dips, Paul Cannel scored 13 goals in 21 games. He was by far the leading goalscorer and NASL took notice of his contribution. Cannel returned to England and Newcastle, with Alan Green taking his role, another English player to score goals for fun in the NASL, but he only netted 9, and moved on, with Cannel permanently returning for the 1978 season. He netted a tally of 14, and again far in front in the goal stats. Alan Green returned for the 1979 campaign and alongside Cannell, the two scored 26, 16 for Green and 10 for Cannell. Legendary “soccer” icon, Gordon Bradley, had taken over as manager and in 1980, he becomes historical, being the only football manager to coach Pelè, Beckenbauer (both at Cosmos) and by bringing Johan Cruyff to Washington, he makes a treble of stars, and alongside Cruyff you know have Paul Cannell.

Both Ray Hudson and Paul Cannell were on the “fringe” in the English top flight, but both with ability to play alongside and against the Worlds very best. Sometimes you wonder “what could have been”. Newcastle United were relegated in 1978, and did not return to the top flight before 1984, then with young “unknown” players up front introducing Peter Beardsley and Chris Waddle to the public.

Paul Cannel finally returned to England and played for Mansfield Town and Berwick Rangers before hanging up his boots in 1984. Ray Hudson has been inolved in US Soccer ever since as a coach and in media and today still one very popular and familiar name US soccer.

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