May 27, 2015: Peter Beardsley said his Newcastle squad have arrived in Hong Kong for this week’s HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens in buoyant mood after watching their first team secure their Premier League status.
Newcastle beat West Ham 2-0 at St James’ Park on the final day of the season to ensure the club will remain in the Premier League for next season, ending months of tension and doubt after a poor run of form.
Beardsley, the club’s Football Development Manager, is again managing Newcastle’s Soccer Sevens squad in Hong Kong and said all his players were in the stands for what proved to be a momentous occasion.
“Everybody here in this group was at the stadium watching the match and they all told me how much they enjoyed the game. It was brilliant for the youngsters because you look at the difference if they went down to the Championship or stayed in the Premier League. It was a brilliant occasion for everybody and the team played really well, which was pleasing,” said Beardsley
“The youngsters are now striving to be Premier League players. If we dropped down a level, it would have been a big deal for them. It wasn’t easy for them because obviously they want to play in the Premier League.
“When we signed these guys, some as long as eight or nine years ago, we signed them as a Premier League club and our dream for them is to be Premier League players. We’re going to be there next season, so it gives these kids something to aspire to, so it’s a brilliant thing for them.”
The former England international has recalled five of his squad from last year’s Soccer Sevens as Newcastle bid to regain the Cup they won on their debut in 2012, since when they’ve reached the final in 2013 and semi-finals last year.
Beardsley has also pinpointed striker Callum Roberts and 6-foot 4-inch target man Tom Heardman as newcomers to watch, as the team seek to make up for giving up a two-goal lead against Kitchee in last year’s semi-finals.
“The five that were here last year have told the others how good it was, how much they enjoyed it and people have been fighting to be here. It’s a brilliant tournament for them, a brilliant week and we love it,” Beardsley said.
“We’re going to do the best we can and obviously you need a bit of luck sometimes. We made a big mistake last year when we were 2-0 up and ended up losing 3-2. We were probably going for a third goal rather than keeping the ball.”
Beardsley says 2013 champions Leicester City, who are Newcastle’s rivals in Group A on Saturday, and tournament newcomers Atletico Madrid and Stoke City, who will face off in Group D, are among the teams to watch out for.
“I think it’s brilliant for the tournament that they’ve managed to get Atletico Madrid here. Atletico Madrid has become a massive club in the last few years under [Diego] Simeone. They’ll have top players, but it’ll be interesting to see what style they play because it will be new to them,” Beardsley said.
“Stoke had a brilliant season in the Premier League under Mark Hughes. Glyn Hodges, who will be here with their U-21s, was a great player for Wales so he’ll know what it’s all about and he’ll be here trying to win.
“Leicester have done brilliantly all round, both their first team and U-21s. Nigel Pearson has done a brilliant job with the first team. To win seven out of the last nine is incredible at any level of football.”
Other top clubs in the 16-team Main Tournament include five-time champions Aston Villa and Wellington Phoenix, who will face off in Group C, as well as West Ham and Hong Kong champions Kitchee, the top two seeds in Group B.
The tournament will kick off at 6.00pm on Friday (May 29) with group games from the 10-team Masters Tournament for over-35 players.
Entry is free on the Friday evening, while tickets for the weekend are priced at HK$160 per day or HK$300 for a two-day pass and are available through Cityline (www.cityline.com).
Group A: Newcastle United (ENG), Leicester City (ENG), BC Rangers (HKG), Singapore Cricket Club (SIN)
Group B: West Ham United (ENG), Kitchee (HKG), Shanghai SIPG (CHN), HKFC Captain’s Select (HKG)
Group C: Aston Villa (ENG), Wellington Phoenix (NZL), HKFA U-18 (HKG), Hong Kong Football Club (HKG)
Group D: Stoke City (ENG), Atletico Madrid (SPA), HKFA U-20 (HKG), Yau Yee League Select (HKG)
Group A: Wallsend Boys Club (ENG), USRC – BTS (HKG), Kitchee All Stars (HKG), KCC Veterans (HKG), HKFC Veterans (HKG)
Group B: Citibank All Stars (INT), Nottingham Forest Mobsters (ENG), SCC Tigers (SIN), Discovery Bay (HKG), HKFC Chairman’s Select (HKG)