NUFC – It’s the thought that counts

Beggars Can't be choosers? Ashley's NUFC choose to be beggars

Beggars Can’t be choosers? Ashley’s NUFC choose to be beggars

With a weekend filled with no Newcastle or Premier League matches due to International fixtures, the void must be filled with something to deliberate on. The papers switch tactics to the usual London biased bollocks surrounding England and poor old Royston Hodgson – the National teams very own rock and roll manager (wock n woll?) and indeed closet Rolling Stone.

Due to the lack of focus on Roy (no Svenis and his Swedish swinging antics to delve into anymore!) and relative non interest in the games these days, the focus turns to the impending silly season…

Ho-ho-ho! Bloody Ha-ha-ha more like.

For those who have the 7 second memory span of a goldfish, suffered recent head injuries or were born within the last 6 months – may I remind all you good folk not to believe a sliver of what you read!

The torturous and daily never ending guff served up surrounding the summer transfer window just did everyone’s heads in.

This winter and through the next few weeks, the finest tripe will currently being harvested as we speak. Scraped from the bottoms of barrels nationwide, jotted down from the backs of fag packets in boozers and traced from the graffiti on the back of public latrines – they will be hitting your newspaper soon! Hot off the press! Steaming hot turd more like, a Yule-tide log of double bollocks.

But, being the addicts to NUFC we all are, we will read every eggy-stenched word and know in our heads that it’s all probably rubbish – but what if? I think we can pretty much discount the ‘what if’s’ these days.

What I would say is that, bank on anybody being sold at any point – particularly deadline day bids of which the club just couldn’t turn down. Poor old Newcastle just cannot compete anymore with the big boys like Spurs, Southampton, Everton. That’s right aye?

What you can also rule out is any big-money transfers. By any, I do mean none. And by big money, I mean everything over one English pence. With the success of Warwick Remy arriving for Buck Shee (I know there is a loan fee involved), then this is now going to be the route of choice for Fat man Scoop and the JFK clan.

Why pay when you can get players for nowt? In fact, if he plays his cards right the parent club might even pay a portion of the wages. Genius. Now if he can only get the machine patented which filters the urine from the gigantic holding tank under the stadium from the millions of match-day pisses and brews it into Ale, to be sold as match-day fayre – he’s laughing. Some might say the prototype to that machine is already up and running!

So when you read exclusive stories of Newcastle interested in 30 year old Yugolsav players arriving for 10m Euros, bids of 5m here for Internationals, if the Gomis story rears his head again (free in the summer) then put the paper down, finish your ablutions and wipe your backside on it and flush hard. Check the pan to make sure it’s gone, then repeat if necessary. The selling club are far more likely to receive a fax of JFK’s wrinkly rump than receive a written bid.

The headlines are being filled with reports of loans for Zaha from Man Utd. The transfer only makes sense for one team – Man Utd. We will become one of the clubs like West Brom (with Lukaku last season), Bolton (with Wilshere a couple of years back) happy to be a nursery club for the big hitters. That is if we have not already assumed this mantle. The best of a bunch of desperados clamouring at the Champions League clubs table for a few crumbs.

Having said that, if it doesn’t make sense for NUFC to go the loan route, then bet your bottom dollar we will be conker’s deep into it.

Worst thing is, if clubs are willing to continue the Premier to Premier loan system – the rich teams will continue to collect players and build squads like I did with Pannini stickers in Primary school – and that really is the main problem.

Personally I don’t believe you should allow loans to teams in the same league. The bairn’s can go out on loan to Championship and below for experience – fine. The rest, if they are good enough to get in the team they will get in. If not, the bench, if not the bench – the squad etc. If the player is not happy, then they put in a transfer request and leave. That’s the way it used to work.

Last winter the panic button was pressed as we were looking like relegation candidates, which released the codes for the Ashley Vault aboard his nuclear submarine. Now that we are fair to middling and on the back of a couple of hard fought victories the chances of that sanction happening again are slim.

If by some Miracle of Miracles that Ashley is visited by three Ghosts – who persuade him to change the errors of his miserly ways – then I will be the first to applaud any signings. But for the sake of my own and indeed my families Christmas – I won’t hold my breath!

To be fair to the playing staff the lads are doing well, but if anything that is the perfect time to make additions. Let us see how it pans out, but the signs are there for all to see.

Keep smiling.

Tainted love – NUFC

I'm Mike Ashley, yes I'm the real Ashley. All you other Mike Ashley's are just imitating.

I’m Mike Ashley, yes I’m the real Ashley. All you other Mike Ashley’s are just imitating.

There have been a lot of comparisons drawn between ourselves and our next opponents Tottenham Hotspur over the past few days. Bloody depressing stuff, we all know that the place is being pillaged by Fat Arse the Pirate – but when you see the evidence in Black and White it has left me shaking my head so hard I am putting a claim in for whip-lash.

We have no divine right to be bigger or better than any club, and most definitely do not have delusions of grandeur – but we have the right to be the best we possibly can be. Thanks to Moby Dick, we are now cheap skates, also-rans, bargain bin sniffers, Premier League paupers. Grateful for whatever scraps we are thrown from the Captains table. Whilst our opponents shop at Harrods, we are picking up out of date stock from Lidl.

Spurs have a Chairman who has had his knockers over the years, keeping a tight rein on spending – but he has transformed the club into major players. Making them the best they possibly can be. Spot the difference?

They too have lost their best players when bigger clubs have come knocking, but they haven’t just banked the loot and fished for cheap replacements, they have looked to strengthen and build with quality. Fair play to them, they have got a really good squad now. But it’s not just on the pitch, commercially they have rocketed past us. The obvious fact is that you have to speculate to accumulate. Spurs by their actions and ambition have made them a partner that people want to be associated with. Business, corporate and fans are willing to pay a Premium to see their team. Newcastle on the other hand are tainted by cheapness, dirtied by Sports Direct and Wonga. You get what you pay for.

If we shared the same ambition, the sky would be the limit. But we don’t have the same ambition, nor ever will as long as Butterbean is at the helm. We have zero ambition. Christ on a bike, the club admitted as such in the Fans’ Forum – no cups for us please! Unbelievable! Why does 1969 even get mentioned, 40 odd years of hurt quite obviously means nowt to the clubs owner and bean counters. If we are not interested in competing in two of the three competitions we enter and say so publicly – then by the power of Greyskull, why bother? If truth be told we are not interested in competing in the three competitions we enter. Ashley is quite happy to merely participate whilst the sound of the turnstiles click and the zero’s on his account swell.

Things will not change under this man. People will point to actions on the pitch, the Chelsea performance was the best we have played all season – I say that performances and results are in spite of the regime and not as a consequence. No victory should give them any validity.

He knows how he is running the club, but obviously doesn’t want any criticism of it. His pathetic banning of the local scribes is akin to a spoiled brat sulking with fingers in ears, shouting “la-la-la-la” when being told off. The abolition of the Fans Forum after one meeting is just unreal. The brat wanted to play football, but has taken the ball home after conceding a goal. Ah diddums little boy.

People have the right to protest, demonstrate, dare I say it – have an opinion?! The papers have a right to print accurate reports covering these things. After all it is a free country, but not in the Republic of Ashley, which has its own rule of censorship that would have the Taliban twisting their tits in complaint.

Honestly our Non-Glorious leader is ensuring that behind the walls of his palace, that he endures no negative criticism whilst he lounges on his thrown like Jabba the Hutt. In all honesty I thought that the local papers have been incredibly soft on the goings on at NUFC over the last few years. For obvious reasons they wanted their relationship intact. Maybe this will now sharpen their focus? But will their efforts and indeed the efforts of fans’ demonstrations fall on deaf ears? You bet. And thus the problem of the ever decreasing circle that is Newcastle United under Ashley.

If this seems to you like an unjust tirade, then we are never going to agree. Can he turn this around? Absolutely, but it would mean him having to do a complete about turn when it comes to the day to day running of the club. The chances of that are about as likely as us winning a cup! Ouch!

Back to the game. I am actually looking forward to this – which normally means one thing… disappointment! Spurs are doing well, if not ripping up trees. They are very tight at the back, which is very un-Spurs like and shy in front of goal – even more un-Spurs like. The fear is should we concede first we will do well to get anything from the game, such has been the strength of their defence. I have lost count as to how many clean sheets they have kept. Should we score first though, who knows? In fact the way we have played this season we are as likely to lose 3 nil as win 3 nil. The bookies must hate our lot.

Last week as previously mentioned was a great performance, well second half anyway. If we play like that we will do alright, if not then we won’t. Simples.

Here is hoping that in spite of it all, the team do us proud two weeks on the bounce. After all they have still got a lot of making up to do after the SMB’s.

Keep smiling.
HTL.

NUFC V SMB’s – wake me up on Sunday night!

Flipping Norah, here we go again. The inevitable meeting with the neighbours you don’t get on with at the party you didn’t organise!

Even though you know this party could go pear shaped, there could well be kick offs outside, the deluded neighbours from down the road will no doubt be mortal and gobbing off, you still find yourself drawn straight in to this sordid and tempestuous do. Like a moth to a buzzing light bulb, or a gambler to a slot machine.

Aye, ding-ding round – 149! That’s right, we have been dancing with the devil next door since 1898!

No sooner has one been, another one is around the corner. Like a bad penny or an atomic boomerang, it keeps coming back. Some people love these meetings, live for them. Adrenaline junkies no doubt. The type of people who think nowt of hoying themselves out of an aeroplane strapped to a ruck-sack, filled with some string and a table cloth. Lunatics!

I love the Toon, but I hate derby days. The whole thing makes me feel uneasy, unholy, dirty…
I know what is coming, things on average will probably turn out just fine, but that’s not the point. This week, the build up to the game and Sunday for 90 minutes will be one huge big heart attack on a plate.

The only way I can get through this is with copious amounts of weak lager, and surrounding myself with like minded gluttons as myself, all lining up for more punishment.

Even though I know in my heart and my head that we are better than them player for player, the threat is there. The fear of failure to the crowing balloons cripples me.

For Centuries they have lived in our shadow in a weird and alternate universe, only with a shallower gene pool!

NUFC is not just football, yes it’s the team, but more importantly it’s the city, the people, the fans – the Geordie Nation!

Our proud reputation cannot be toppled by defeat to the goons, but they can tarnish it. They did so last year, who saw that coming? In fact for me they blacken us by merely coming into contact with the grubby blighters!
Personally I find the stress so uncomfortable that I would be happy never to play the SMBs ever again!

Happiness in the 80’s was a Cigar called Hamlet – happiness for me would be to see them sliding out the league and never to darken our doorsteps again! Cigars all round in the Swan house!

But this will never happen. Splits have happened over the years, but always temporary. Like I said earlier, we have still managed 148 previous encounters!

For all the pain, stress, piss and vinegar – I obviously love it really. The perversity of being a Newcastle fan brings us few pleasures, but one of those is stuffing the Mackems. For the sheer unparalleled ecstacy that you feel when we stick one past them, the joyous rapture when we take three points, the laughing at their misfortune. Priceless. It far out-weighs the fear of failure.

If any of our first team squad by chance decides to read this page, listen up…

Go out and settle a score, go out and make a city proud, go out and not only avoid defeat – go out and do what we know you can do, no what you MUST DO…

WIN AT ALL COSTS! COME ON UNITED!

Always live in hope! Time now to hibernate till Sunday night, wake me on the other side!

For all the lads and lasses going – come back to the homeland fit and well, with a smile and 3 points please! God be with you brave souls. Bring it on.

Joy of Joys!

Joy of Joys!


Keep smiling.

NUFC – Pride restored

Pats on the backs all round lads

Pats on the backs all round lads

Well done Newcastle United. The lads showed something yesterday that I really did not think they had – guts. Apart from a pretty brainless decision by Yanga to pull down a guy in the box (who doesn’t need too much persuasion to hit the deck) it was a real gutsy performance filled with passion and quality.

A lot of criticism has flown the way of the team when it comes to mentality, backbone, balls – or lack of them. I know I certainly have doubted the character after watching performances like Man City, Everton and Hull. I am as equally surprised as I am delighted with what we got served yesterday – more please! You don’t always get that feeling after a home draw, but the fact that it was against a Liverpool team who embarrassed us last season, added to the fact that we were down to ten men for more than half the match, pride is the word. Not often we have been able to say that, hopefully it sets us up nicely for the trek down the road to the cultural utopia that is S*nderland.

I still think that when we go a goal down that we struggle to get a grip and heads go down, the proof will be in the pudding if we can turn a game round. But I digress.

People will always want to knit-pick, the pundits scrutinising, replaying and analysing every key moment, telling is all how it should and shouldn’t be done – with the beauty of hindsight and super slow motion. But it’s a game played on split second decisions that happen in real time and in the blink of an eye. Sure we probably could have done a little better for their second equaliser, but sometimes you just have to accept a decent goal.

Everybody played their part in the game, in which we hit the ground running from the first whistle. No doubt the memory of the last meeting spurred them on. No team talk would have been necessary prior to the game.
Did all the simple things right, defended as a team from the front and didn’t give Liverpool time on the ball. Great stuff man. Until Yanga Boumsong-Bramble Mbiwa blew his beans, Liverpool had not had a whiff. Had we gone in at half time one nil up with eleven on the pitch – who knows? However, you never really fancy that one goal for this Newcastle team is enough. And so it was proved.

When we took the lead through that worldy from Cabaye my head nearly burst with Friday night’s ale still sloshing around my skull! What a strike lad. He must have been 35-40 yards out, like all good tales the distance will probably get further each time it’s recalled!

It had given us something to fight for and protect. We did that proudly through some fierce and stubborn defending, until the clanger. Did anyone doubt that Gerrard would slot past Krul? I mean howay he always bloody scores against us! He is a bit of a mardy faced git, but what a player he has been. God I would love it if we had one of our own come through the ranks like him. One of those few special players who could in his day win games on his own.

I must admit that I feared the worst for the second half, it was going to be tough. But I was wrong again, spurred on by the brilliant Dummett’s sneaky-eye left foot volley, we had something to fight for again. Aye it was inevitable that as the game wore on, the legs would naturally tire and that the bin dippers would get chances – Gouffran seemed to be breathing out his backside at one point. But he had grafted his socks off. To be fair everybody did. We still looked dangerous on the break, Remy really offers a great out ball on that left side.

The equaliser came, but we held out for what in the end was a morale boosting point. So hey-ho it ended all square. Probably a fair result, in a game that had everything. Congratulations to the lads and indeed Pardew, we are quick to slate them when they are poor, let’s give them praise when its due. Pardew gambled with his team selection and it paid off. Fair play mate.

With the game played on the back of the Anti-Ashley protest, it just goes to show that it can be done and not be detrimental to the team performance. In fact if anything, it made them play better! Coincidence? Can a protest march be carried out before every match!?

Upwards and onwards to the badlands…

Keep smiling.

NUFC – Red peril prior to a dance with the Devil

Can we make it up-to and beyond Halloween in one piece?

Can we make it up-to and beyond Halloween in one piece?

What’s that coming over the hill? Is it a monster, it’s a monster…

Halloween, gore, blood-curdling screams and of course the M*ckems.

That tingling in the spine increases as we draw nearer yet another duel with the dark side. The unavoidable stress of a trip to visit the monsters of the black lagoon is upon us once more.

But before we reach that gruesome encounter, we have to deal with the lingering nightmare that lurks only one week before – the marauding red peril of Merseyside.

SJP had never witnessed such a one sided blood bath in 80 odd years. A cricket score was dished out on a day that could have come straight from a horror movie. It was such an horrific massacre that it’s black shadow has never left the club, or indeed Alan Pardew’s side.

Like Edgar Allen Poe’s Raven tapping at the door – it won’t go away. With our trousers taken down and backsides well and truly spanked, the result and performance shrieked from the roof tops that trouble was brewing at the Cathedral on the hill.

The fact that this home result had been preceded by being toppled by the unwashed, just added to the growing fear that all was not well and the stench of relegation choked the throats.
As we all know, we escaped the relegation trap door by the skin of our teeth – but the form of last season has left us all haunted.

Since then our resident ghoul JFK, managed to drag one player over the magic line in the transfer window. A case of “we know what you did last summer” – f&ck all. But Joe tried his hardest bless him, and his hectic schedule of Hotel and Airport Bar lounge rendezvous left him very tired and emotional.

Don’t get me wrong, Remy has turned out to be a revelation so far, but for how long like? We will all be happy whilst he keeps banging them in (just as well somebody is by the way) but we will all be pretty hacked off if, or indeed when, he toddles off into the heat of the Brazilian sunshine for a World Cup (shop window) bonanza, without having any agreement in place. Who is to bet against that happening and us being taken to the wire again in yet another summer of striker-angst.

United have been described as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, referring to the schizophrenic nature of their performances. The Toon have swung so much so from disaster to glory with no in-between that it has left all and sundry scratching their scalp to the skull in bewilderment. Most frighteningly for us, at the top of the baffled list includes the bloody team manager. If he can’t put his finger on it, God help us all.

The conundrum for me is that we are even more extreme than Jekyll and Hyde. At least there was a reason for that. He took a potion, flipped his pot and ran amok. Victorian Jager bombs no doubt! Depending on which way the wind is blowing, we don’t know whether they can be arsed to put a shift in or not.

It’s up to the gaffer to have them focused and firing from the first whistle, but once they cross the white line, it is up to them to react to the game as it unfolds. If we concede first, we cannot just pick the ball up and gan home to Mammy saying that we don’t want to play anymore. Captain Coloccini needs to step up.

After Hull and especially Everton, the words you will have read – clueless, gutless, spineless, useless, no backbone among a few expletives. Mentality is a huge concern with the team, motivation another. When the going gets tough, the tough get going? When the going gets tough, this lot’s heed just goes. But when they are at it, they really do look like they could give anybody problems.

We are told over and over again that we have a good first team. Agreed, we have some excellent first team players, but team I am not sure. One thing about us that we are certain is that we are the most ‘consistently inconsistent’ team in the league! Like the famous line from Forest Gump – “Newcastle United are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are gonna get”. Or necessarily like it…

The fixture ball-bag has spewed these two fixtures together and we can only pray to God, Allah, Vishnu, Buddha, Colonel Sanders, Elvis or even the God of Hell fire that we don’t end up on the wrong end of nine against and nil for. My very soul could be lost forever.

Liverpool are in very good nick, Sturridge has been exceptional. Last season he tore us to bits – warning heeded? They are led by a pretty big Cheese ball -fortune cookie logic – soundbite of a manager who makes David Brent seem like the greatest philosopher of the modern era – but that aside he has them playing good stuff and they are going to represent a massive challenge.

What can we expect from the SMB’s? The timing of our meeting probably couldn’t be worse. New manager at the helm, who in his previous incarnations as Brighton manager and Chelsea player was our very own Grim Reaper.
Aye, Gus Poyet has seemingly enjoyed sticking the knife into Geordie hopes over the years. Wembley under Sir Bobby in the FA cup semi’s was the biggest sickener for me. Weeping with joy when Bobby Lee netted, weeping again after those jammy cockney toads smashed and grabbed a cup final spot from us via the boot and noggin of old Gustavo. The twat.

The early exits in consecutive FA cups was not so much down to his managerial brilliance, more to our own deficiencies.

I truly hope that we can ram the reality home to him and that deluded mob, that the last encounter was a blip. Victory for us would be sweet however it arrives, more importantly it could see him off to a bad start and keep them rooted to the bottom of the pile.

But the stark reality is that we stride heed first into the unknown, like a blindfolded mine detector. We might get to the other side unscathed, we might not. Heads or tails? Just hope that come bonfire night that I’ll not be volunteering myself as the Guy following a double dip on the United roller-coaster!

Keep the faith, and a spare pair of kegs handy!

NUFC – Villa offer some light ‘relief’

Happy days for The Gouff at Villa Park

Happy days for The Gouff at Villa Park

Get in man. What a difference a couple of weeks make. Two wins on the bounce have Newcastle breathing the clean and heady air above the mire at the right end of the table.

Take a big gulp and lap it up whilst you can, it’s been a bloody long time in coming!

Instead of the weekend being ruined, drink being taken as a medicinal cure for post-match blues, cats being kicked and slippers thrown at Match of the Day – the flip side was true. This is something to be savoured and a sense of real unbridled joy.

No longer the grumpy ogre grunting one word answers at the family, no longer avoiding all media coverage of the Footy, no more burying your head in a bottle of JD and waking up on the sofa in the wee hours with a crooked neck. Well two of three anyway!

Newcastle win = full blown TV and social media assault. This amid sheer giddiness.

No more waiting for the Pink (Got rest its soul), straight onto the mobile, The Mag, Twitter, Facebook, Teletext, set Sky to record Football first, watch Match of the day, then back to Football first, then back on the mobile. We all know the drill.

What a mental addiction! Not forgetting Sunday either, Match of the Day (again), Sunday Sun, Sunday supplement (yes, even those pompous gets), Goals on Sunday, then an actual interest in the Sunday games. All of which would be avoided during the self-enforced media black-out, following let’s say, ‘less favourable’ results.

Indulging in so much black and white that one day, I will probably OD to be rushed to a drying out clinic, full of other twitching Geordies – high on 2 wins on the bounce.

Like a kid who has just eaten his own weight in Skittles, I am currently high as a kite floating around the house, the family will soon have to coax me down with a pinata stick and a lasso.

For that’s the beauty and the irony of loving Newcastle United. The schizophrenic existence of a Mag.

Don’t get me wrong, I am full of hell as to the whole Ashley and Kinnear fiasco, and I think I have suffered depressive states about the whole situation. But for now, however brief let me bask in the warmth of enjoyment.

Nowt is forgiven, nor forgotten. But I am not going to feel guilty for buzzing for the lads.

Winning away at Villa and playing well brings a huge sense of (temporary) relief to the clubs persistent itching and burning problem. It doesn’t vindicate anything that has or hasn’t occurred behind the scenes far from it. What it does is make us feel bloody good for a change.

Some managers try to act calm on the touchline, and say that they don’t get too high when they win and likewise not too low when they lose. Suppose when it’s a job you can emotionally detach yourself. When it is your life, your passion, your religion the highs send you into orbit and the lows well and truly boot you in the nuts.

Forget Ashley and JFK for the week. The cards have been dealt, albeit we knew their hands long ago. Enjoy the moment and look forward to Hull. Ashley and JFK will get theirs. Oh aye, their time will come. You cannot keep beating a good dog and expect it not to bite. The opportunity for them to influence the first team has waddled into the sunset, for now the playing staff and manager have to take the mantle. Nee choice have we!?

I think the general belief is that our first eleven starters are of good quality (though not shown enough last season). Good enough to keep well clear of the bottom pack. But, we are only a couple of injuries to key players away from a crisis.

As written on here, the team is going to pretty much pick itself. It could be a positive if all playing top of their game, gelling more and more with each passing week. Or it could mean players bang out of form guaranteed a game. Ridiculous!

Typical Newcastle, if we had strengthened – you never know we could have been in for a terrific season. Should we have a nice steady start and we do a bit of January sale shopping again, we could still end up having a strong finish and a decent placing. This despite the regime and the lack of ambition it has shown.

On the reverse, we could have three or four injuries to key first teamer’s early doors and end up shopping in the bargain bins to save our bacon come January.

That’s how fine the balance is.

So its fingers crossed that HBA, Cisse, Colo or Krul don’t get injured and see where the hell we are come January.

Keep smiling, at least until Saturday anyway.
HTL.

NUFC – a 20 year “Glove affair” ends

Cheers Stevie old boy

Cheers Stevie old boy

Last night saw SJP crammed to the hilt to give our recently departed stalwart Steve Harper a fitting send off.
Even the wife wanted to come to this one, (probably something to do with stalking Rob Lee!) but I think that’s how most people felt – they had to be there.

There is something really special about the Ground for the night game’s under the lights. It just looks fantastic.

Seeing the lads even warming up pre match was great, I was grinning like the Joker on medication watching – but I am a bit of a soft touch for nights like this.

Aye, the lads may be a bit greyer, balder, wider and slower, but they too felt the need to be there. They were loving it, the familiar grins were apparent. As were the warm ups, seeing the lads in their groups, you could have been transported back a decade or two.

The squads were both really strong and were going hopefully to showcase their talent and bag a hatful of goals at either end, sending the stadium wild. Well that was supposedly the script, aye?

The two squads were slowly introduced to the field – firstly AC Milan – one by one, politely applauded to the field amidst nuclear Bunsen burners belching fire into the night sky!

Hopefully they too would have been impressed by their welcome I thought, until it dawned on me that Paolo Di Canio was going to get the same personal introduction! Oh dear.

Enter the pantomime villain for the night, and on cue he was roundly booed. From a personal point of view I think it was really big of him to turn out, and he took his booing in good humour.

Then like entering Noah’s arc, the NUFC players entered the field two-by-two, to thunderous applause. With obvious fans favourite’s getting some big cheers – Shearer, Tino and funnily enough Barton and Nolan getting just as much love from the stands. Stevie Harper getting the biggest, after all it was his night. Well it was at that point.

It then took the teams nearly 15 minutes to shake hands, Christ I thought if it’s taking the lads that long to walk the line – how are they going to run around the field?!

AC Milan started the game well, and were using the width of the pitch extremely well raiding down the flanks and pushing Bez and Nobby back.

Newcastle unfortunately were not showing any of the old entertainer swagger, and were struggling to get around the pitch. Ginola hit an extravagant shot which flew into level 7 of the Leazes!

The best player on the pitch? Probably Di Canio, he was popping up all over and with every touch it was greeted with a boo – which frankly really started to grind my gears as he was having so many touches!

They created a few chances and one scorcher was palmed out by Harps to great applause.

After 20 mins, the running was finished for the night from the starting Toon XI and the changes began in earnest. I will not even begin to start writing who came on, who came off as I lost the plot with all the subs.

Tino came on and tried an acrobatic side on volley, which only Tino would attempt with his geet rubber legs. This temporarily woke a few from their slumbers, for cries of TINO, TINO, TINO.

The atmosphere became muted, due to a lack of any real goal action – hampered by an overly keen linesman. Flagging for offside’s here there and everywhere – like seriously man, what was he playing at?

I joked with a lad in front that it should be no offside’s, fog man back (rush goalie) and playing in skins. As much goal mooching as you like.

This was meant to be fun, but sadly it was a bit of a turgid affair. Brilliant seeing everyone, scratch that – amazing seeing everyone, but like I say the script had seemed to have been forgotten.

Half time whistle went, undoubtedly to the delight to some of the aching frames zimmering about the pitch!

Weirdly, dotted around the crowd fans began shining their mobiles and waving them around their heads like they were at some sort of concert. I didn’t dig that, I am obviously not down with the kids!

Half time saw a mini NUFC team of youngsters take on a much older looking AC Team in a penalty shoot out versus Monty Magpie in nets. I said to the Mrs. “If they cannot beat Monty Magpie from 12 yards, they need to retire now!”. A returned scowl suggested I take these things too seriously!!

Steve Harpers son was the final taker in what was a nice thing for the bairn’s. I was actually pretty bloody jealous! If only the senior’s had been on the pitch, they could have taken some tips for later!

Second half saw more intent from Newcastle and a few fresh legs, Gillespie came on and looked very lively. Credit where credit is due, the player who had excelled all night for the Toon was our very own long lost Greek – Nicos Dabizas. The lantern jawed Centre half had been solid, blocking shots, passing well and bringing the ball out from the back. The Mediterranean diet had looked after him, he didn’t look a day older.

It also saw the introduction of Gary Speeds two sons, a truly heart warming gesture for a sadly absent United great.

Newcastle had started with some concerted pressure, Gillespie whipped a ball to the near post and Tino nodded in, the Barcelona connection all over again! Did I mention the linesman earlier?

Up popped the flag like a toaster on steroids, howay man! It’s a bloody testimonial!

This Stadium is built for the sound of fans celebrating goals, and the home fans were out in abundance to soak some of that much needed celebration up. After all it’s been on bleeding short supply! But the lino was not for turning.

Beardsley and Cole teamed up (what a pair they were) and looked sharp. Beardo was picking some good (and bad passes). Coley looked sharp, culminating in a strike against the post.

Even the posts didn’t know the script.

Then in steps Massimo Taibi, the man everyone will remember for letting the ball through his legs for Man Utd, tipping over a stunning save which was destined for the top corner.

Everyone could see the stalemate coming, and to the relief of all the game ended.

Penalties would decide the outcome.

Up steps Pedro. Remember Chelsea at home in the League cup I said… On cue, saved.

Milan score.

Up steps Tino, walking to the spot like one of those dancing flower pot toys from the 80’s.

Saved. Ref decides he feels sorry for us. Saved again from Tino.

Milan score again.

Up steps Harper for his big moment of keeping NUFC in the shootout. The Milan keeper stands with his hands behind his back! Harper hits an exorcet missile straight at the keepers knees which then balloons away to safety. Oh dear.

Milan pen saved.

Thommo slots with his trusty left boot at the Leazes to give everyone small reason to cheer.

Pav saves again, can it swing?

Up steps the night’s darling for the Crowd, one Joseph Barton – has to score. After all he gave Di Canio a booting after coming on, which possibly earned the biggest cheer of the night.

Saved and onto the post. Oh dear, oh dear. Oh well, the script was well and truly ripped to pieces. Ripped to pieces, then set on fire, then urinated on to quell the flames.

Harps then said a quick few words to thank everyone for coming. It was his night, and he was roundly applauded.
The turn out showed sheer class from our fans again. Everyone stayed until the bitter end. It would have been nice to have some goals and excitement, but hey – that’s NUFC for you!

Anyway, Steve being part of the Goalkeepers Union, he might have had a little grin that it ended with two clean sheets and a goal keeper being the hero!

Thanks again Stevie. You did us proud, hopefully we did you proud mate.