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Newcastle United Ged Clarke

PROMOTION – May 1993

…another victory over the Mackems, 1-0 at home, saw us tantalisingly close to promotion. In our next match we did it and it was another fantastic night, this time at Grimsby and once again I got lucky due to my job (at the BBC) with “Standing Room Only”. A few weeks earlier we’d been filming an interview with the Grimsby chairman, Peter Furneaux. I joked with him that we’d probably beat them to win promotion and he immediately offered me a pair of tickets. I had a hunch that that really might be the night so I’m glad I took up his offer.

Sime and me drove over from Manchester and had a brilliant night. Cole and Kelly got the goals which not only guaranteed promotion but also won the title. Sime and me had passes for the sponsors lounge where we drank the last bottles of Newcastle Brown Ale. As we passed the boardroom I asked the commissionaire to thank the chairman on our behalf. Instead he brought him out and Mr Furneaux insisted we join him and his guests for a glass of promotion champagne. So there we were supping bubbly with Sir John and Lady Hall when it got even better. Lady Mae said: “You must come into our boardroom at the weekend.”

On Sunday May the 9th we were in dreamland. Newcastle proceeded to score six goals in the first half against Leicester - a team that was pushing for the play-offs! Wave after wave of that great song: “He gets the ball he scores a goal, Andy, Andy Cole” rippled across the terraces. We eventually ran out 7-1 winners with both Andy Cole and David Kelly scoring hat-tricks. After the final whistle, Newcastle were presented with a piece of glinting silverware before our very eyes – the old Football League division one trophy which Newcastle hadn’t won since 1927. Of course it was somewhat devalued now as it was now really the Second Division trophy, but we weren’t going to let that little fact spoil a perfect day.

Lady Hall was as good as her word, and we were soon in the St James’s Park boardroom enjoying promotion cake and more champagne. Kevin Keegan also dropped in and poured us both a beer. “The highest paid barman in Newcastle!” joked Sir John. Kevin then made Sime’s day even more perfect when he looked up at my 6ft 3in mate and said: “Crikey! Do you want to come and play centre-half?” To this day Sime tells everyone that Kevin Keegan once asked him if he’d like to play for Newcastle.

I drifted off into town to meet up with Steve O’Brien and a few of the lads from Wallsend. I found them in the Monkey Bar on Pilgrim Street and we sang Toon songs long and hard into the night. I remember a young fan coming up and saying: “This day is for the likes of you lads, who’ve had to suffer all these years.” It made me feel old but it also made me feel good – because he was bloody right.

Ged Clarke

Extract from ‘Newcastle United – Fifty Years of Hurt’ by Ged Clarke (Mainstream Publishing, 2006)

 

 

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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