By Andy Hudson
I was born in 1978. Before my birth my parents went to Newcastle games and I grew up listening to their stories such as the FA Cup Final loss in 1974. My grandfather used to balance myself and my older brother on his knee and sing about ‘Hughie Gallacher, the wee Scots lad, the finest centre forward, Newcastle ever had’. The stories of Hughie, Wor Jackie Milburn and The Mighty Wyn Davies were the foundations of my childhood.
My father used to take me and my brother along to St James’ Park when he could. There was no other team that I could support. Before I knew about football I knew about Newcastle United; before I knew about any football teams I knew about Newcastle United. By the time I was able to kick a football around the street I was already Kenny Wharton, Peter Beardsley and Chris Waddle in my head. Other teams didn’t exist – during the 1980s there was the existence of the black and white stripes and that was it.
Of the current squad it has to be Jose Enrique. The guy is a legend! I’m not sure when he gets the chance to train as he’s always on Facebook talking to fans (before Facebook he was on Twitter all day talking to everyone). The way he has embraced the region and the Newcastle fans is amazing – he seems to be the most loved of all of our current players.
My all-time favourite player is Pavel Srnicek. We’ve had Shearer, Ferdinand, Beardsley, Gazza and many others but growing up it was Pav who I loved. We signed Pav in 1991 and he stayed for seven years before returning as an emergency signing in 2006. Despite signing several ‘keepers to take his place he always regained the number one shirt. Pavel was, and still is a Geordie.
There are so many candidates for this one. The 5-0 victory away to Antwerp in September 1995 was special as was the 3-2 win over Barcelona at home in 1997 and beating Man United 5-0 in 1996. Closing the 1992/93 promotion season with a party as we beat Leicester 7-1 was amazing as was beating the Mackems 4-1 at their place (even Chopra scored!) but the one game that stands above all of these is Sunderland 1 Newcastle United 2 on 18 October 1993. This was the first time I had seen us beat the Mackems and being a school kid on their birthday weekend made it even sweeter. For a number of fans this was the game where we knew we were going to witness a great season.
We were packed into the Roker End and for the first twenty minutes there were Geordies streaming out of the Clock Stand paddocks and being pushed into the official away end. We took the lead through a scrappy Gary Owers own goal before they equalised with twenty minutes remaining through Gordon Armstrong. Six minutes later and Lennie Lawrence fancied Liam O’Brien over the wall. He duly delivered with a stunning free kick to send the Roker End berserk.
In 2001 Andy O’Brien scored the equaliser in a 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light and the following song was born:
“Liam O’Brien, Andy O’Brien, Any, Any O’Brien, Who put the ball in the Mackem’s net, O’Brien. O’Brien”
Despite us wearing as we were relegated in the late 80s, the home top we wore at the time is my favourite Toon strip. It was copied during our Championship winning season in 2009/10 but the original was the bomb. It was simple, had bold black and white stripes and had the smiley badge; it was perfect.
Worst Thing About Being A Newcastle Fan?
Constantly being told what I believe in as a Newcastle fan by clueless fools is the worst thing for me. To clear one such thing up – we don’t want a Messiah; it’s the Media from outside of Newcastle who want us to have one. Other fans pick up on rubbish being spouted by inadequate writers and fail to engage their own brains to form a reasoned opinion of their own. I know that on occasions this has been fuelled by a very small element of Newcastle fans but they are no different to that small, idiotic element of the fanbase that every club has.
The last day of the 1996/97 season. The final whistle has been blown on Newcastle’s season as we finish with a 5-0 win over Nottingham Forest. Very few people leave the ground at the end as we celebrate qualification for the following season’s Champions League courtesy of a second place finish. The humour comes a few minutes later – Middlesbrough are confirmed as relegated and then the laughter drifts out from the Gallowgate end as the final whistle goes at Selhurst Park; Wimbledon had beat Sunderland and the Mackems were relegated. Laugh? We didn’t stop for days.
Notable mentions for the moment when Olly Bernard blocked a thumping Laurent Robert clearance – from point-blank range and the lad who used to go to away games with us who had repaired his torn jacket with strips of cellotape.
Of all the moments over the past 25 years of following Newcastle there is one that edges all others. It’s 1992, the season is almost over and Newcastle are heading for the old third division. We’ve never dropped that low before. We’re playing Portsmouth at home. There is only a few minutes of play left on the scoreboard. The ball drops to David Kelly on the left side of the Leazes End box. He steadies himself and then smashes the ball into the net.
That one moment sums up life as a Newcastle fan. While other teams have the silverware and complain when they don’t win anything for a few years, we celebrate moments where we survived; when other teams celebrate title winning campaigns we’ll celebrate losing our Premier League lead and finishing second but knowing that no other team will ever entertain in such a way as Newcastle did in the 1996/97 season. Trophies…. no thanks. I don’t need glory; I have the beating heart that is Newcastle United and that’s enough for me.
Posted on January 20th, 2011 by scott
Filed under: My Team & I