Premier League giants Newcastle United have designs on making more Milk Cup history.
The Magpies are eager to join in the tournament’s 30th anniversary celebrations this summer and re-establish a link that goes back to 1985.
United won the Premier title on their first visit, beating hosts Coleraine 4-1 in the final and after losing the decider to Dundee United the following year, they lifted the crown again in 1989 when they defeated a Manchester United side coached by former Old Trafford star Brian Kidd.
“We have had a strong connection with Newcastle over the years,” says Milk Cup chairman Victor Leonard. “In 1984, our second year, we welcomed a team from a boys club in the city and when United picked up the baton for the North East after that, they sent some fine players across including Lee Clarke, Robbie Elliott, Michael Chopra and Shola Ameobi.”
In 1987 former Northern Ireland international goalkeeper Iam McFaul was Newcastle United manager and he returned to his home town to open the tournament. Clarke helped make the draw in more recent times.
The Geordies will contest the Premier event where Norweigan outfit Revo Express are lining up once again, as are New Zealanders Otago.
League One club Brentford, who have just agreed terms with Crusaders star Stuart Dallas, will be back in the Junior competition. Dallas, from Cookstown, represented County Tyrone at four Milk Cup tournaments between 2005 and 2008.
Brentford’s Director of Youth Development, Ose Aibangee, is a big fan of the tournament. He said: “We have made excellent progress in terms of improvement from our first visit two years ago.
“The Milk Cup has been a positive experience for myself and the players. The variety of clubs involved means it offers our young players the chance to experience different game styles at an early age and that is hugely important in their development.”
This summer’s Milk Cup will take on a slightly different format to mark the 30th anniversary, mirroring the successful 21st anniversary competition when County teams hosted matches in their own areas on the Saturday.
The tournament kicks off on Saturday, July 21 and concludes with finals night at Ballymena Showgrounds on Thursday, July 26, a day before the London Olympics begin. The Welcome Parade of competing teams through Coleraine town centre to the Showgrounds takes place on Sunday, July 22.