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Newcastle United Tom Lynch

My most memorable match happened when I was 13. It was the final game of the 1991/92 season and Newcastle were away to Leicester City.

It had been a pretty tumultuous season, which had left Newcastle in danger of slipping from the old Division Two (that’s the Championship these days for you younger readers!) and into the Third Division. That February though, things changed with the arrival of Kevin Keegan had revitalised the club and although we went into the final game with relegation a serious risk, Keegan had instilled confidence into the young players and strengthened the squad with the addition of valuable experienced players such as Brian Kilcline and Kevin Sheedy.

To make matters worse, Leicester were flying, chasing automatic promotion and a home win would see them promoted.

We arrived at Leicester’s cramped and dingy old ground, Filbert Street an hour and a half before kickoff. The stand in which we were housed was situated directly behind a row of terraced houses, so we entered the ground through narrow passages in between the houses themselves. Inside, it felt like we were hemmed in. The low roof and angle of the terrace restricted our view, and we had fences from floor to roof separating us on both sides from the Leicester fans. While in front of us, a six foot fence had been hastily erected to keep us off the pitch. The noise was deafening, with our fans in good voice as soon as we were in the ground. The first half passed by goalless, but with us singing throughout. We needed a win to guarantee our safety, so as the second half went on, the tension grew amongst both sets of supporters with Leicester themselves chasing victory to secure their promotion. Then a Leicester pass went awry. Gavin Peacock chased and chased and chased it with such determination. He latched onto it, with the Leicester defence floundering. The keeper panicked, Peacock rounded him and slotted the ball home. Pandemonium! The air seemed to be sucked away and everything went red hot. Furious Leicester fans briefly spilled onto the pitch, but were soon cleared off and the game continued. The tension between the two sets of fans though spilled over with insults and missiles hurtling through the fences into our section. The game seemed to slow to an eternity and everything dragged. Leicester pressed, we couldn’t clear and Steve Walsh equalised with only several minutes left. Again we kicked off. Two minutes left. The ball was sent back to Tommy Wright in goal for us. He walloped the ball forward. Peacock threatened and again panicked their defence. Steve Walsh attempted to knock it out, but miss hit it and sent the ball past his own keeper. 2-1. Leicester fans were furious with hundreds spilling onto the pitch. The referee took the players off for safety reasons, but our ex Leicester striker David Kelly was trapped with hoards of Leicester fans between him and the tunnel. He had only one choice. He turned and ran, with Leicester fans in hot pursuit, towards our section. Fans at the front up at the fence climbing on, hands stretched out to him as he was bundled into the relative safety of our support.

The stewards and police started clearing the ground. Officially, there was two minutes left. Was the game over? There was much confusion, but then it was confirmed, yes, the game had ended 2-1 to Newcastle. We were safe! Outside was utter chaos with Leicester fans trying to attack our support. As the convoy of our coaches snaked through Leicester towards the M1, we were subjected to Leicester fans screaming insults, and gesturing at us. Stones and other missiles were hurled in our direction, but we came through relatively unscathed. We were safe and Leicester were consigned to the playoffs, losing the final to Blackburn.

As it turned out, it had been our last minute win at home to Portsmouth the week earlier that saw us safe, but we didn’t know that at the time!

Tom Lynch

 

 

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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