Adam Newton

Boots in Both Camps | Former West Ham United and Brentford full-back Adam Newton

Voted man-of-the-match in the Hammers triumphant 1999 FA Youth Cup winning team, former England U21 international Adam Newton went on to help Brentford lift the League Two title in 2008...


Youthful enthusiasm

Sitting amongst the West Ham United fans with my young daughter, Anais, at Emirates Stadium, last April, it certainly brought back lots of memories as Kevin Keen’s U18s beat Arsenal to win the FA Youth Cup.

As a family, we’d already seen the Hammers beat Southampton (6-1) in the semi-final at London Stadium and, now, it’d been a no-brainer for us to go to the final, especially as my wife Alaina is a Gooner (!).

West Ham put on a great performance to win 5-1 and it was a brilliant experience to be in there with all the Hammers supporters and see so much togetherness out there on the pitch, too.

It’s such a prestigious trophy to lift and I’m hoping that a few of those boys can now kick-on and carve out a living from the game just like most of our 1999 FA Youth Cup winning team did a quarter-of-a-century ago.

Although I was born in Ascot, my family’s roots are in the Caribbean and they took a shine to Clyde Best, who arrived from Bermuda in the late-1960s to play for West Ham.

Growing up as a kid, football was my passion and I’d go along to the Boleyn Ground, where I’d stand on the South Bank while I also trained with the Club, too. Mike Keen [Kevin’s late-father] ran the Hammers satellite Academy in Slough and during the holidays, we’d travel from Berkshire to Chadwell Heath, where we’d play against the other ‘colleges’.

Aged 13, the football suddenly got more serious and, as I moved up through the year-groups, I was surrounded by some very talented youngsters. We just loved playing and winning football matches together and, without being arrogant, knew we were a good team.

By 1998/99, that belief had grown as we progressed through the FA Youth Cup to face Coventry City in a two-legged final.

We’d already given a good account of ourselves in the first game up at Highfield Road, where I’d scored in our 3-0 victory and that result certainly filled us with confidence for the Upton Park return.

Joe Cole in action with the FA youth Cup team in 1999

Ask any member of our squad and they’ll tell you that Friday 14 May 1999 is etched in their memory because it was just such an amazing night. Nobody had anticipated that so many fans would turn up at the Boleyn Ground, where they had to open up extra turnstiles so everyone could get in.

The Sky Sports cameras were there, too, and we wanted to kick-on and prove that we were the top team.

As an attacking wing-back I was always encouraged to get in and around the box and having already netted at Coventry, I now scored in the second-leg, too. We ended up winning 6-0 on the night and 9-0 on aggregate.

Lifting the FA Youth Cup is the pinnacle for any U18s team and it was such an amazing occasion because we’d done it as a bunch of mates. There were no egos in our side and, although Joe Cole and Michael Carrick went on to achieve incredible things, when I look back on that team, barring injuries, everyone forged a career for themselves – the likes of Stephen Bywater, Richard Garcia, Terrell Forbes, Izzy Iriekpen and Stevland Angus – while Anwar Uddin has done great at the Football Association, too.

Harry Redknapp gave me a couple of first-team opportunities telling me it was a great opportunity to showcase what I could do. Following our Youth Cup win, ironically both Premier League appearances, came against Coventry, too.

Adam Newton v Osijek 1999

I also travelled to Croatia for our UEFA Cup first round, second-leg tie against NK Osijek. Coming on at half-time to play in European competition was pretty nerve-wracking but there were a few older heads around, who helped me to get through.

It was only a few years after the Croatian war of independence and, with all the bullet-scarred buildings, there were the signs of the conflict everywhere. I’d played at youth tournaments in, say, France or Spain but that trip put serious perspective on things.

With Igor Štimac showing us around his homeland, aged 18, it was a huge learning curve to actually witness bits and pieces you’ll never see in newspapers or on television.

Thanks to goals from Paul Kitson, Neil Ruddock and Marc-Vivien Foé we won the tie 3-1 (6-1 aggregate) but as understudy to Trevor Sinclair, my first-team chances were limited. One of the strongest, fittest players around, Trevor – an England international – had bags of talent, too.

I was never ousting him and, although I tried to remain patient, it was always going to be difficult breaking into the first-team. I had loan spells and sustained a bad injury, too, before Glenn Roeder then took over.

New managers always have different opinions and ideas and you’ll either make the cut or need to kick-on elsewhere. Aged 21, I now needed to move and ended up at Peterborough United…

Adam Newton in Peterborough United colours

Buzzing Bees

After playing nearly 250 games for Peterborough, I joined Brentford in 2008, when they were down in League Two. Signing for a long-established, London club with a fantastic fanbase, I reckoned they only needed to get a consistent team together to start doing well.

We weren’t the prettiest side in the division but, then again, there isn’t too much pretty football in the fourth-tier!

Just like West Ham’s 1999 FA Youth Cup winning squad, we’d fantastic team spirit at Griffin Park and, again, there were no egos – we just wanted to do well for each another. Manager Andy Scott and his assistant Terry Bullivant drove us on and, in Charlie MacDonald, Marcus Bean and Jordan Rhodes, we’d players who’d score goals.

I’d started out as captain before picking up injuries but having then been in and out of the side, I enjoyed a strong finish to the season, making 39 appearances overall.

Adam Newton and Brentford celebrate winning League Two in 2009

We won the League Two title with victory at Darlington in our penultimate game of 2008/09 and that led to a great journey home from the North-East but while the Bees headed into League One, I joined Luton Town in the National League – another well-grounded club with a great set of supporters.

Back then, most people would’ve found it hard to believe that – less than 15 years later – both teams would be playing Premier League football but there was always an expectancy amongst each set of supporters that good times would return and I’m so pleased for those clubs and their fans.

Brentford have been up there for three seasons now but I’m not surprised that they’re holding their own because the chairman’s a smart guy and they’ve got a great business model, too.


Caribbean dream

Back in 2000, it was brilliant to be called-up by England U21s coach Howard Wilkinson for the friendly against Georgia. I was amongst a good crop of young players that included Ashley Cole, Luke Young, Francis Jeffers and Scott Parker, while it helped that Joe Cole and Michael Carrick were in the squad, too.

After winning the FA Youth Cup, things were progressing quickly for us and giving a good account of myself, I played for 80 minutes in our 6-1 win. Barring unfortunate injuries, who knows where my career might’ve gone in the subsequent months and years? That’s football.

In 2004, out of the blue, I got another chance at international level. Given I was playing in League One for Peterborough, the full England squad was probably a bit out of reach by now (!) but learning of my background, St Kitts and Nevis gave me the opportunity to play in the FIFA 2006 World Cup qualifiers.

It was a great chance to spend the next few seasons representing my heritage and to help a small Caribbean island.

Adam Newton in action for St Kitts and Nevis

A great experience, it was a quite a culture shock, too. The scorching sun meant the grass was always bone dry but their watering system only consisted of a tiny sprinkler that you’d use in your back garden. There was even a herd of goats on the pitch but that’s how things were over there, back then.


New direction

These days, aged 43, I’m a London Taxi driver and with sons Micah (20) and Paris (eight) plus daughter Anais (ten), my black cab gives me the freedom to be my own boss, while dipping into a bit of coaching here and there.

Alaina’s Mum pointed me in that direction. ‘You’re a good driver,’ she said. ‘Do your Knowledge, it’ll give you something to learn and achieve.’ She was so right and I’ve never looked back.

Living in Essex, I still go to London Stadium and Rush Green to keep an eye on both the first team and U21s, whenever I can. Like anyone, I can be critical at times but I also appreciate the match-day situations that players and managers can find themselves in.

Although West Ham play a certain way under David Moyes, the supporters have always enjoyed seeing the Club holding onto a maverick.

Adam Newton and his family

During my time, we had Paolo Di Canio and Joe Cole before Dimitri Payet came along ahead of Lucas Paquetá. No team can rely on just one attacking player, though, and we’re fortunate to have Jarrod Bowen and Mohammed Kudus, too.

We haven’t had the best start to 2024 but hopefully we’ll begin to brush recent results aside and build momentum towards achieving a respectable finish to the season.

We’ve still got the UEFA Europa League beginning with next month’s round of 16 and, after all the excitement of last season’s UEFA Europa Conference League win, I’d love to see us lift another European trophy.

Sure, it’ll be tough going but like all Hammers fans, I’m really hoping that we’ve still got something to shout about, come late-May...


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