By Gary Oliver
MALCOLM Macdonald saluted the goalscoring prowess of Michael Owen - and then welcomed him into an exclusive Newcastle United 'club'.
Our record signing bagged his first hat-trick for the Magpies in Saturday's 4-2 victory at West Ham, meaning he now joins the ranks of those who have netted trebles both FOR and AGAINST the club.
In the past 30 years, others who have achieved the feat include David Kelly, Andy Cole and Supermac himself.
He told nufc.co.uk: "It's a unique club we welcome Michael into, players who have scored hat-tricks both for and against Newcastle United. It's quite an achievement.
"I'm sure Michael will be delighted to have scored his first hat-trick for Newcastle. When you arrive at a new club there are little steps you look to take - there is scoring your first goal, getting into double figures and getting your first hat-trick.
"With Michael, the hat-trick takes him well on the way towards double figures. He now has seven goals in eight games, which is a great return but no surprise as Michael is a goalscorer first and foremost.
"That's why Newcastle bought Michael, to score goals. That's what he does best.
"People will look at the West Ham game and think he was quiet for long spells, but he still came away with the match ball and that is the mark of a top goalscorer."
Newcastle fans were used to seeing Owen score hat-tricks against the black and whites as a Liverpool player, registering trebles both at St. James' Park and Anfield for the Reds in 1998 and 2001 respectively.
Ironically, the first of Supermac's four hat-tricks as a Magpie came against Liverpool in his unforgettable home debut at Gallowgate on August 21, 1971. After moving to Arsenal, he then hit a treble against United in a 5-3 win for the Gunners at Highbury on December 4, 1976.
David Kelly scored three for Leicester City in a 5-4 triumph over Newcastle at Filbert Street on December 1, 1990. The following season he moved to Newcastle, and he netted a hat-trick against the Foxes in what proved to be his final appearance in a black and white shirt, the 7-1 romp at the end of the 1992-93 promotion-winning campaign on May 9.
Andy Cole scored a hat-trick that day as well, but already had a treble against Barnsley to his name from a 6-0 home win on April 7, 1993. He scored seven hat-tricks for the Geordies, and then moved to Manchester United, where he hit four past his old club in a 5-1 Old Trafford beating for the Magpies on August 30, 2000.
Meanwhile, Owen's hat-trick at West Ham was the first time in over 21 years that a Newcastle player had scored a top-flight treble away from St. James'.
The last time it happened was also in London, when Chris Waddle netted three times in an amazing 5-5 draw at QPR on September 22, 1984.