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Newcastle United Alex Hannah

The Prime Minister's Challenge on Dementia

 

For better or for worse there is rarely a dull moment supporting Newcastle United and indeed it takes a great deal of patience and faith to avoid giving up on them all together, however every so often that faith is repaid in the form of something quite special. Even as a relatively young supporter, I feel it's fair to say I must of seen it all in ten years of following the club! From Bobby Robson's team that made their mark on Europe, to dreary Tuesday nights away to Scunthorpe in the Championship.

For me the reward of several years of torment came during the 2011/12 season, one that began with the smallest expectations ended in an audacious push for Champions League qualification, with several memorable scalps along the way, the most impressive of which being the 3-0 dismantling of Manchester United.

Whilst there are many more noteworthy moments and results that will stay in the memories of fans long after this one; embarrassing the Mackems, victories in Europe, even the 5-0 drubbing of Manchester United in 1996 all come to mind. To me however, this epitomizes exactly what makes Newcastle United one of the enigmatic clubs in the country, what other club could dash hopes so routinely and yet somehow go on to defy expectations in such a way?

Before the match there may have been a quite confidence that a result against the Premier League champions might just be possible. Nevertheless Sir Alex Ferguson's men hadn't lost on Tyneside in nearly a decade and when Demba Ba fired a tremendous effort to give Newcastle the lead, my thoughts immediately turned to all those previous encounters where Newcastle had led, only to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Then shortly after the break, as Yohan Cabaye doubled the lead, I reluctantly let myself carried away that this might actually be our night. As the clock ticked on and I awaited the inevitable capitulation, I realized that for once it was my team leading comfortably, but what’s more outplaying their illustrious opposition! Finally a ridiculous Phil Jones own goal provided the coup de grace and with it a 52,000 strong sigh of relief. 3-0 and with a few minutes left to savour the occasion. Manchester United, the team that had for the best part of my lifetime piled on a series of humiliating defeats, had come to St James Park and themselves left humbled.

The fact that games like these and the manner of such performances are sparse, so often hoped for and so elusive, means that some will always maintain that a club with such potential perennially seems to come up short as a result of fans unrealistic levels of expectations, misguided notions of being a 'big' club. But when they do come along, it coaxes us all into believing that such expectations are not unfounded, restores some faith that has been slowly eroded from years of disappointment and reassure us that football may be fair after all.

 

Alex Hannah

 

 

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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