Why Peter loves "Nellie the Elephant" 29th March 2003
Peter Weatherson openly admits he just loves it when he hears "Nellie the Elephant" blaring out from the P.A. system at Palmerston."It's great" he says with a big smile on his face "For it means I've just scored another goal.
"It was our physio, Kenny Crichton, who started it all off. He's a bit of a practical joker is Kenny and he said I looked a bit like John Merrick on whom the film 'Elephant Man' was based. The lads in the dressing room thought this was hilarious and they too nicknamed me 'Elephant Man'. The next thing I knew our P.A. man, 'Alex the Hat' had cottoned on and when I scored a goal at Palmerston he would play 'Nellie the Elephant' over the tannoy. But it's all good fun and I enjoy it".

Although only 22, Peter is in his third season with Queens and thoroughly enjoys it here. Apart from Andy Aitken and Jim Thomson, he is our longest serving player, having joined from Newcastle Blue Star in July, 2000. However, before that he did have a spell with Gretna Ponteland United.
That first season he took Palmerston by storm, knocking in goals from all angles. In only his 5th appearance he had the distinction of playing on the hallowed Hampden turf when he faced Queens Park. "It was marvellous experience for a 20-year-old" he recalled. "Apart from myself there were several other players from the North East and we all enjoyed the occasion" In October, in his 12th game, he notched a 'hat-trick' in a 4-2 victory over Stenhousemuir. "I remember it well" he grinned "Jarrod Suddick laid on all three goals for me--in fact I still have the match ball at home".

His goal-scoring soon attracted the attention of Premier League sides from both sides of the Border (including his beloved Newcastle) but unfortunately for Peter no serious offer materialised. "Were you aware of the scouts in the stand watching you and did it affect you in any way" we asked. "Not really" he replied. "But I must admit it was on my mind at times".

Peter scored 20 goals in 37 games in that first season and scooped the pool at the Doonhamer Travel Club's annual presentations winning all three major awards--'Player of the Year', 'Young Player of the Year' and 'Away Day Player of the Year'. "Ever since I arrived at Palmerston the fans have been great and have given me tremendous encouragement" he confessed. "To me they're just brilliant, particularly all those who travel to the away games at places like Peterhead and Ross County. That's dedication for you"

To date he has netted 44 times for Queens and his most memorable strike was the second of his two goals in the recent match at Alloa. This goal incidentally won the 'Scotsport Goal of the Month' award for January. Another he vividly remembers was at Hampden against Queens Park. "We were 1-0 down but I rammed home a cracker and we went on to win the match 2-1".

And his most memorable games? "Three immediately spring to mind-- the Challenge Cup final at Broadwood; the match up at Forfar when we clinched the Championship and, of course, the following Saturday at Palmerston when we were presented with the trophy".

And how do you compare first division football to last season? "The pace is a lot quicker; the quality of football is much better and you get punished more for any mistakes" he confessed.And what about playing in the deeper role you've been allocated of late. "Obviously I prefer being an out-and-out striker, but we've such an accomplished squad now I'm just glad to get a game. I'd play in goal if I was asked" he joked.

Born and bred on Tyneside, Peter has supported Newcastle United since childhood. "It runs in the family" he explains. "My father and grandfather attended all their games and I used to hear them argue and compare all the great players from the past like Jackie Milburn, Bobby Mitchell, Peter Withe and Malcolm Macdonald. So it must be in the blood so to speak".

His own boyhood stars were Peter Beardsley and the irrepressible 'Gazza', both of whom he describes as 'Magpie Heroes'. In more recent times it was the legend himself, Alan Shearer that Peter hero worshipped. Last season it was strongly rumoured that he would be turning out for Newcastle against Queens in a pre-season friendly match. "But he wasn't there and he may regret losing out on his one and only chance to play against Peter Weatherson" he laughed.

"I used to work in a flooring factory which was quite close to St James Park. I've actually played at the 'shrine of football' once" he said with pride in his voice. "I was only 14 and turned out for my school team, Kenton Comprehensive. Sadly, we lost 2-0, but it was an exciting day for me".

At the beginning of this season Peter re-located to Dumfries but it didn't quite work out as planned, so he has now moved back to Newcastle. "I had hoped to get in a lot of extra training by using the facilities available at Palmerston and also improve my fitness at the Barracuda Leisure Club. However, being more-or less on my own it wasn't so easy" he explained. "I really like Dumfries, but being a small town and me playing for Queens I felt I was always being 'watched'. I'd to be very careful what I said and what I did--it was like living in a goldfish bowl at times".

"Did you have any trouble with the usual Scotland/England issue when in Dumfries" we questioned." "No, not at all" he confessed "But I think the Scots and the Geordies have always got along famously. If I'm ever going to a nightclub with a bad reputation I always take my 'minder' Kenny Crichton with me. Let's face it, yobs would just take one look at Kenny and run a mile" said Peter, chuckling to himself.

Away from football he relaxes by playing snooker and golf, working out at the gym and we believe he's a very polished performer at karaoke.

Peter openly admits he owes an awful lot to the 'gaffer', John Connolly and also 'Scottie' (the assistant manager); Warren Pearson (First team coach) and physio, Kenny Crichton. "They gave me a chance to prove myself" he says "And have always watched over me and guided me in the right direction".

As for characters in the game, he puts Andy Goram right up there at the top of the list and describes him as a 'great guy'. "He's a laugh-a-minute--great fun when out socially; great with the young players and I feel he's been a great asset to the club".

And what about Peter's hopes for the future. "I'd love to go full-time and, with no disrespect to Queen of the South, play at the highest level possible. I'm only 22 and all I want to do at present is play professional football" he concluded.

This concludes our series of Player Chat for this season however, next month we feature a Manager Chat as John Connolly relates his story.

Bill Goldie

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