Newcastle United Change
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Newcastle United Margaret M Nesbitt

Newcastle United v Everton FC 2003

It is cold, I am tired, I am thirsty, I am lost in my thoughts, and then, suddenly.

 

GOAL!!!

I leap out of my seat, I fling myself into the air, I scream, I am in union with 52,000, rhapsodic fellow fanatics. There is an almighty power rising through the damp, evening air as the shared exaltation raises hearts, minds and bodies into a state of euphoric bliss. It is half time; I sit down in my coveted seat and retreat into my thoughts. This is football. Football arousing the same passion as the most fervent religion. This isn’t just football, this is tribal warfare. This sheer joyousness I experience only happens when United score. The feeling of elation achieved through a United win makes me sleep more easily, rise more cheerfully and smile more readily. There are times when I wish that my emotions weren’t so dominated by a situation the outcome of which I have no control.

My first visit to the hallowed home of my favourite team took place in 1950. I was eight years old. The crowd was 63,000 all standing. My father built me a box to sit on before and stand on during the game. The sight of the one-man mountain that was Jackie Millburn, picking up a ball, running half the length of the pitch and firing an unstoppable shot into the net captured me forever.

All goals are special but some stay etched in the mind. The 1955 F. A. Cup Final. United’s third Wembley appearance in five years and ‘Wor Jackie Milburn’ scoring with a rare header after 45 seconds. The debut of Malcolm MacDonald in 1971, a hat trick against Liverpool. The goal that King Kevin Keegan scored on his playing debut in 1982, he reckoned “was sucked into the goalmouth” by the Gallowgate crowd. And the unforgettable achievement of Andy Cole when he brought his season’s tally to an insurmountable forty in April 1994. And of course when talking of goals the player whose record is unequalled in Premiership history our very own, best ever striker, best ever winger, strongest defender and most creative mid fielder. Alan Shearer.

The whistle blows for the start of the second half. Everton unbeaten in eleven games are leading 1-0. We’ve not lost at home for three months. They bring on their wonder kid, a lad called Rooney. The game drags on. They are using spoiling, time wasting tactics. The clock is running down. Only five minutes left. I begin to prepare myself for the despair, deflation and dejection that accompany defeat. Our Lord and master SBR (Sir Bobby Robson) brings on a young warrior. Shola Ameobi came to United from Nigeria via Walker. Three strikers on now. The crowd increase the volume. The ‘Gallowgate Roar’ can be heard for miles. We are going for the kill. Shola suspends his 6’. 3” frame high above the opposing defenders to head a ball onto Shearer’s left boot. A magnificent, irrepressible volley beats the keeper and the crowd go wild.

I can cope with a draw. Time is up on my watch. It’s not a bad result. It’s the very least we deserve.

‘O ye of little faith,’ my match companion responded to my compromise.

‘There’s two minutes stoppage time yet!’

‘Hang on lads.’

I can barely watch as every black and white shirt surges forward. Even the keeper is on the half way line! It’s the only way we know to play the game. And then, with the referee looking at his watch, our mercurial, Welsh whippersnapper has the ball on the bye-line. He shoots from a seemingly impossible angle and the ball ends up in the net!!!

Blithesome joy…Ecstasy…Stupefied triumphant celebration…

This is football…my mind is blown.

Margaret M Nesbitt

 

Newcastle United Foundation have a heritage project for fans of all ages called Toon Times.

Toon Times will culminate with a major Newcastle United exhibition at the Discovery Museum, Newcastle, although in the lead up to this event Toon Times wishes to reach out to all Newcastle United fans across the North East and further afield to get involved and share their memories, experiences, photos and memorabilia what people have collected over the years.

We are supporting the project by helping to collect NUFC memories online - fans can share their memories on the Replay Football website, simply select the Toon Times tag when submitting yours.

For more info contact the Toon Times Heritage Project Coordinator, Newcastle United Foundation, gavin.ferry@nufc.co.uk

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