KEITH Southern celebrated his 30th birthday in style with his best Premier League performance of the season ... against the club he supports.
Pool’s Gateshead-born midfielder turned in a high-octane, tigerish display, bossing the likes of Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan in Newcastle’s midfield.
It earned him the man of the match award and ensured he was in perfect mood for a rather special weekend.
Southern explained: “I was 30 on Sunday, and after the game a load of the lads had a party at Gary Taylor-Fletcher’s house.
“The party wasn’t for me – it was for his missus, who was celebrating her birthday as well. But we had a good night and the fact that so many of the lads were there shows what a good team spirit we have at this club.
“As for turning 30, I’m not too depressed about it because I still feel as fit as a fiddle.
“I look after myself and I still get up and down the pitch, so hopefully there will be a few more years left in the old dog yet. And Brett Ormerod is older than me, so that’s the main thing!”
Of greater importance to Southern was retaining his place in the team and turning in a performance which could keep him in the starting 11 for the rest of the season.
It has been a largely frustrating season for Southern, who suffered a knee injury last summer and missed the opening months of the campaign, struggling to win back his place as Pool did well in the top flight.
But Saturday brought his seventh start of the campaign and his best yet.
He added: “That was definitely as well as I’ve played this season.
“I’ve played well in spells but to put a 90-minute game together in the heart of a midfield battle in the Premier League is tough, and I thought I did that on Saturday.
“The lads were fantastic and everyone did great. I thought Matty Phillips was superb on the right wing. He is only 20 but he ran his heart out and was absolutely shattered at the end.
“Every one of us give everything for the cause. That should be a given really, but we didn’t do it last week against Wigan.
“We looked at the reasons why, and hopefully against Newcastle we put them right and turned a little corner.
“We rolled over against Wigan and didn’t compete or do what we should have in a massive game. We were so poor it was untrue.
“The gaffer asked for a reaction and we gave him one. Now we go into the Stoke game on Saturday hoping to win.
“We feel confident again. That was the Blackpool of old – the Blackpool of last season and the start of this season.
“I thought we were fantastic from the word go.
“We went a goal down as per usual, but this time we showed a lot of character and fight, and were very unlucky not to win.”