I wrote this back in June 2015 about David Kelly and Jonas Gutierrez. In light of recent events, I thought it was relevant again…
There will never be a statue of David Kelly at St James Park. Perhaps there should be.
You can’t sit in the David Kelly stand, watch a game from the Kelly suite, or enjoy a pre match pint in Ned’s Bar. I wonder if there’s even a picture of David Kelly in the corridors of our great stadium.
You never know. Should he decide to leave his current coaching post at Scunthorpe and lead the Magpies to a Champions League, FA Cup, League Cup and Premiership quadruple, we may see a Nelson’s Column size effigy outside the Strawberry.
At the end of the 1991/1992 football season, Newcastle United were on the brink of relegation to the third tier of English football.
We needed a hero, a fairy tale moment, a new Messiah. We needed someone who could flick on to a desperate hoof from Ray Ranson.
We needed someone who could find an extra yard of pace as the ball was deftly touched on by Micky Quinn to the edge of the 18 yard box.
We needed someone would could maintain their composure to slot home the ball in front of a Gallowgate end full of anxiety, frustration and desperation, rather than hope and excitement.
Step forward David Kelly.
It’s frightening to think how different our lives would be were it not for David Kelly. Had Newcastle United been relegated during 91/92 we would not have secured promotion to the Premier League the following season. Forget Arsenal and Manchester United, think Exeter City and Leyton Orient. Keegan would spend the early part of his career and perhaps more, scrapping against lower league teams in a desperate bid to get out of the doldrums of the then league 2 (third tier) rather than getting his passport stamped across Europe.
Would we be in the Premier League now?
Would we have experienced Wembley?
Would we have danced drunkenly in the streets of Milan, Monaco and Eindhoven?
Would the wives of Tyneside have swooned over David Ginola’s locks, would their husbands have swooned as he danced past the East Stand with Gallic flair turning defenders into French toast?
Would Tino have played Matador, testing and teasing a visiting Barcelona team?
Would Shearer be a Geordie idol, or just the bloke from Newcastle who joined Man United instead?
Were it not for David Kelly, I’m not sure we would have experienced any of the above.
The trophy cabinet may still be bare but these memories will stick with us forever. If Sir John Hall and Kevin Keegan were the lead characters in the historical manuscript documenting this period of Geordie folklore, then David Kelly should write the preface.
It’s now 2015 and we’ve endured an emotionally draining, frustrating, tedious season. I’m not going to document the reasons for this as they’ve been written a hundred times before, but on the final day of the season, after sinking from 5th to 17th in a matter of only five months we were again facing relegation. It was difficult to find an ounce of optimism amongst the folk of Newcastle on 24th May 2015, our final game against West Ham.
The Newcastle squad lacked experience, heart and in some cases footballing ability.
So lads, who wants to be the next David Kelly?
Step forward Jonas Gutierrez.
The scenes as Jonas wheeled away from the Gallowgate end, windmilling his shirt, were straight out of Roy of the Rovers.
How many of us predicted the monumental, man of the match, goal assisting, goal scoring epic that Jonas played out in front of us. Not me. That his goal took a wicked deflection mattered little, it could have bounced off his backside for all I care.
Forget Ashley, Charnley, Sports Direct, Joe Kinnear, Dennis Wise, Wonga, Carver and the Mackems. For a brief moment let’s put our vexations aside, embrace this moment and rejoice. Gutierrez has demonstrated loyalty to our club despite relegation, despite shoddy treatment during a potentially life threatening illness and despite awful mismanagement at his club from the top down. He then plays out a fairytale in front of us all. Only the hands of time will prove how significant this moment will be to Newcastle United.
The ice in the champagne bucket barely had a chance to melt before the club, sensing an uprising of happiness and optimism, gatecrashed our party….
“Ryan…….. pass the phone to Jonas.”
Welcome back to the sh*t storm that is life as a Newcastle fan. Jonas is gone, rejected via Ryan Taylor’s iphone. This is like the day your mother tells you Santa Claus isn’t real, or the tooth fairy is actually your Dad. Newcastle United, you’ve gone and done it again!
Jonas, may I extend my personal thanks to you. You have been accepted into our folklore and will remain, in our eyes, a gentleman, a true professional and an honorary Geordie. You will always have a place in our hearts alongside our aged cup winners, league winners who’ve long since departed, our loyal servants and of course, David ‘Ned’ Kelly.
Give this man the keys to the City, give him the keys to my house. Pop round whenever you want Jonas, although give me an hour’s notice so I can run the hoover round and polish you a schooner for your Brown Ale.
There will never be a statue of Jonas Gutierrez at St James Park, perhaps there should be.