Newcastle United broke their transfer record in 1993 by paying £1.75 million to sign Andy Cole from Bristol City, but there was just one problem when the Magpies finally had their bid accepted: nobody could find the player.
Negotiations for the transfer of Cole were laborious and drawn out due to the nature of Bristol City’s hierarchy, meaning when the transfer was finally accepted at Ashton Gate 30 years ago, all that was left to do was agree terms with Cole himself.
Without a mobile phone, though, that was a lot easier said than done, and a West Country manhunt soon ensued.
Newcastle United writer John Gibson recalls the signing of Andy Cole in spectacular detail.
“Bristol City had a committee at the time and you could never get a decision out of them,” Gibson said FourFourTwo. “In the end, Newcastle said, ‘We’ve been on you time and again – either you do a deal or we’re walking away.’
“They quickly said yes and went to try to find the player in town, because he didn’t have a mobile phone or anything like that. The fella from the club found Cole’s car but couldn’t find him. So he left a note under his windshield wipers telling him there was a deal for him and he needed to contact the club quickly!
“Coley was a bachelor and was in the local launderette watching his washing go round in the spin-dryer. It was only when he got back to his car that he realized what was going on.”
Once Cole was found and up in the northeast, he thrived. His 12 goals in 12 games for the final part of the season helped Newcastle gain promotion to the Premier League from Division One at a canter, before he hit a record total of 34 strikes in his debut campaign in the top flight.
Just six months after that, he was on the move once again, this time to Manchester United. In a deal worth £7 million, Cole left Newcastle having scored 68 goals in 84 matches for the side, certainly making it worth the club’s time to find him in that launderette.