The numbers at the Scottish Communities League Cup final will be bolstered by a Newcastle United contingent plan on making the journey north to lend their support to Conor Newton and Paul Dummett, two of the club's youth prospects on loan in Paisley until the end of the season.
Among their number will hopefully be Willie Donachie. The 35-times capped former Scotland internationalist needs no second invitation to return to his hometown but, on this occasion, if his schedule allows it will be more of a busman's holiday. Donachie is Newcastle's reserve-team manager, the man personally responsible for the well-being and development of Dummett and Newton.
A relationship is growing between the two clubs and the former Manchester City player is happy to see that continue, given the progress he feels his two 21-year-old charges have made in such a short space of time. Dummett, a left-back, arrived at the start of the season and came on so much in a few months under Danny Lennon and Tommy Craig that he ended up making his Newcastle first-team debut upon his return, before signing on with St Mirren again for the rest of the season. Midfielder Newton's first ever full 90 minutes in senior football was the semi-final victory over Celtic.
Donachie compares the players going out on loan like a teenager leaving home to start university. So far he is delighted with the education both are receiving. "It's a fantastic experience for both lads," he told Herald Sport. "They're both good professionals and good people, and they've got a future in the game. And now they're getting a chance to play in a cup final; I'm a bit jealous of that.
"Both players have come on leaps and bounds. Conor, within a week, I felt had grown up. He's from Newcastle so to leave home and move to Scotland . . . it's like someone starting university. So apart from the education of playing in the Scottish Premier League, it's been good for him and Paul to get away from Newcastle and mature as individuals as well.
"As a club we feel that youngsters get the benefits of playing first-team football. You can't replicate the experiences they are getting with St Mirren in the reserves, or even being on the bench for the first team. They are actually playing competitive games in front of fans who have paid money to watch them, fans who can tell them they're no good if they like. That's invaluable experience for any young player.
"I know both boys are loving their time in Scotland. I've been to three or four of their games since they went there and St Mirren play good football, which helps. In Scotland there's more tackling and it's more aggressive than in England so the boys are getting it from all angles. But that will toughen them up, which is no bad thing."
Donachie played in two League Cup finals for City – including against Craig's Newcastle side in 1976 – but knows that not every player is so lucky. He hopes, therefore, that Dummett and Newton make the most of Sunday's showpiece. "What a tremendous occasion that will be for Paul and Conor," he said. "There have been a lot of very good players down the years who never played in a cup final. So they're lucky to get this chance so early in their careers. They should savour every minute of it.
"I'll be there unless something else crops up and it gives me a chance to see my family, too. I expect there will be a contingent from Newcastle who make the trip north as they're both well-liked guys. It would be tremendous if the boys end up with winners' medals. I would be so happy for them."
With Alan Pardew, the Newcastle manager, filling his side with experienced, mainly French imports, Donachie admits chances for young players to graduate to the first team will likely be limited. But if Dummett and Newton do not make it at St James' Park, he believes they will flourish elsewhere. "At the moment the club are deciding what the next step with them will be," the Scot said. "But, no matter what happens, this time at St Mirren has given them a platform to go on and do something in the game.
"Newcastle are signing loads of players from France – all over the world in fact – at the moment so it's very difficult for a young player to break through and establish himself. But they can make it in other ways. The big thing is that they progress their careers and, with them being at St Mirren, they're definitely doing that faster than they would staying in the reserves."
Given the success of the pair, Donachie would have no qualms about sending more of his young players to St Mirren on loan. "I'm more than happy for our boys to go there as it's a great club, one that's well run by nice people," he said. "And to me that goes a long way. You see some clubs where the owners aren't all that reliable and the whole club has problems as a result. But at St Mirren it seems good from top to bottom. I'd have no hesitation about sending more of our young players there next season or at any other time in the future."
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