“Tradition dies hard in football. That’s why everyone always expects Newcastle United to do well in the FA Cup” – Jackie Milburn
Even though I wasn’t even born at the time(s), the names Ronnie Radford and Denis Tueart make my blood boil. Their goals, replayed a hundred times or more, knocked us out of the FA Cup and League Cups, Tueart’s in the final no less.
By the same token my heart fills with pride at the sight of Joe Harvey and Jackie Milburn walking down the steps of Wembley with the Cup.
I have been to a FA Cup final, the 2-0 defeat to Man Utd (1).
Contrasting fortunes in Semi Finals being at the victory over Spurs (2) at Old Trafford and the defeats v Chelsea (3) at Wembley and Man Utd (4) at Cardiff.
I have different reasons for remembering them as explained below.
1 – Walking away from Wembley after the full time whistle with ‘Maric 10’ emblazoned on the back of my black & white shirt (swiftly replaced when I got home – an expensive mistake) I felt the eyes of disgruntled Geordies in the back of my head. I couldn’t get down Wembley Way quick enough. That was the last time I got a player’s name printed on my back.
2 – My pin badge obsession began in earnest with £2 invested in a bonny new SMB badge in a pub in Manchester, Oddfellows I think. I must have bought and lost a hundred different badges since but I still own that one. The match itself remembered for the stand I was in, physically bouncing, and Shearer’s thunderbolt. Incidentally Maric was involved in the build up to that goal.
3 – Although we got beat, we certainly weren’t defeated after this one. A certain Gus Poyet made company with Tueart and Radford on the ‘sickener list’. Bobby Lee’s header from a Shearer cross remains the best feeling I’ve experienced at a football match. The scenes around me were something else, I get a rush just thinking about it now.
4 – Awful, awful, it hoyed it down all day but it was briefly brightened by the sight of Sir Bobby Robson walking amongst the fans before the game. Terrible performance on the pitch, 10 hour coach journey hyem in soggy jeans only to find a parking ticket on my Da’s car when we got back to town. A real life last nail in the coffin moment.
It’s not just the big occasions though, the earlier rounds bring back fond memories too.
I’ve been to Blackburn what feels like at least 10 times. The Cup game when Shearer scored, knelt down, and pointed to the home fans with one finger, and the NUFC crest on his chest with his other. I was also there to witness Didi Hamann’s raking crossfield ball for Louis Saha’s deadly left foot finish.
Where were you for Peter Lovenkrands’ perfect hat trick v Plymouth or Paul Kitson kissing the ground at the Gallowgate End after his hat trick v Swansea?
The early stages of the UEFA Cup also have had their moments too.
Ginola’s gravity defying goal v Ferencváros.
Tino waving his shirt on the corner flag after scoring against Metz, then getting himself booked, meaning he’d miss the next tie in which we exited the competition.
Anita’s equalising volley away at Bruges and that whole day around the place are things I’ll never forget, despite the Belgian beer.
All are stick-out memories in my mind when I think about the Cups.
If it wasn’t for my Dad and Uncle taking me along in my formative years I would have missed the majority of them. For this I am eternally grateful. As I’ve got older I’ve gone to these games with pals.
Our recent Cup record has left nothing to hang your hat on, but promises have been made that we’re going to exert our energies in the Cups this season. I can’t see us winning/buying the league or breaking into to the ‘Sky Sports Top 4’ (which extends to 5 depending on who’s up there) anytime soon, so why not go for it in the Cups?
Traditions roll on and like Wor Jackie said, traditions die hard in football.
I would say the Cups are where NUFC’s traditions lie, in the FA Cup particular. My nephew is old enough so I take him along to the Cup games and I’ll do the same with my son when he finally arrives.
Young Kippa (nephew) has racked up a canny number of games now; European, FA Cup and League Cup ties, including a Europa League Quarter Final v Benfica, a testimonial and a fair few Reserve/Junior ties under his belt, pretty decent for an 8 year old.
Get yersel along tonight, see the match from a different end of the ground, take the young ‘un you never know what you might witness, or more importantly what he or she might experience, because what is a club in any case…
Howay me bonny lads!!!
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