Apart from one nearly magic season under Keegan, I’ve never ‘expected’ Newcastle United to win the League. Being brought up to follow the Mags as a young lad in the 70’s and spending plenty of time in the second division or mid-table first division at best, League winning status was as far away as the proverbial ‘man on the moon’.

The cups were a different kettle of fish. My dad followed the lads when they won the FA Cup three times in the fifties and never stopped going on about it…’we’re a cup team’…he would tell me. A Fairs cup win in ’69 and FA Cup finalists in ’74, followed by the League Cup in ’76 (my first ever trip to Wembley), seemed to confirm this. I still remember during my school days being excited at the thought of listening around a crowded radio on a Monday lunchtime for the FA Cup draw, hoping for a decent home draw or an away game against a ‘big team’ where we could grab a bit of cup glory. At every victory you could sense a visit to Wembley….it was always going to be ‘our year’. Of course it never was and indeed hasn’t been, domestically, since 1955.

In reality, the cups always brought about their fair share of embarrassing defeats. Hereford was my own personal nightmare, I suspect that I’m not alone picking that game, but there are plenty of others to choose from. Exeter away (0-4!) is still my most humiliating away defeat. However, the cups were always your one hope of winning something. At any point in time Newcastle would only be a maximum of say six games away from winning something and that seemed something tangible and gave us some hope. That hope still remains today. I was gutted at last season’s defeat at Brighton, the low point in an otherwise magic season. The previous year’s defeat at Stevenage had been bad enough…but a repeat dose!

For all the respect I have for the current management and team, and the magnificent season we had last year, I can’t see us winning the League at any time in the future. Unfortunately, the rich are getting richer and there is no chance, unless you are owned by a rich Sheik, of kicking the door down and breaking into the elite. For goodness sake, even Arsenal, with due respect to them, are talking about not being able to compete with the elite. I’ll accept our year on year progress and hope that one day football gets its house in order and there is more of a level playing field.  That leaves the cups as our chance of glory.

It was with some ‘concern’ that I read Alan Pardew’s comments in The Journal last weekend, which reading between the lines means ‘we are giving up on the cups and concentrating on the league’. I make no criticism of the manager. It’s his decision and he has to balance the resources he has available,  the current state of football has finishing as high up in the league as a greater priority. Qualification for the Champions league is more important than a trophy. For those of us with hopes, however, it’s a bit of a kick in the teeth. Dreaming of a respectable league placing just isn’t the same.

If we haven’t got hope what is there left? It appears dreams of a trophy may be a thing of the past on a more permanent basis.

  • Griff

    I find it very frustrating how the cups, the FA cup especially is just not as highly regarded as it was even just a few years ago. It was the most exciting and eagerly awaited competition in club football arguably in the world. A lack of respect of it by the larger clubs and the financial draw of the champions league have deemed it not so attractive. The FA aren’t helping with their lack of support for it – the final was played before the end of the league season last year – it’s very frustrating!

  • Whitters

    In my opinion, a respectable league position is preferable for a couple of reasons: 

    We already struggle compared to the big clubs and the difference between finishing 12th and finishing 6th (just for an example) is a massive £5.6 million (based on £800k per place, although this could increase even further with the new Premier League T.V. deals that have been announced). Compare this to winning the FA Cup at just £1.8 million, and just £100k for the Carling Cup!!

    To be honest, winning either cup is still highly unlikely, even if we played our best team, and to risk finishing down in the bottom half of the table, in an attempt to win cup, is just not worth it. Lack of being in the mix for European PL places would almost certainly see all our big names go, which would undoubtedly lead to a further slide down the table, and a downward circle for the club.

    Yes the importance of the cups has changed, but nothing stays the same forever. We are – correctly – focusing on the league, and long may it, and our success in it, continue.

  • Lintonlad

    Like you Colin, I grew up believing that “this year might be our year” and, although it never was our year, it was a happier time for that.  It is so sad that the FA cup is seen as a distraction these days.  It used to be a much loved and respected institution.  I dread the thought that I may never see an FA Cup win; surely a concerted go at the cups is worthwhile?  It brings Europa Cup qualification and the bigger clubs have recently made a habit of fielding weaker teams. 
    Howay the Lads!

  • Keith Gilroy

    The simple solution which has been bandied abouit various times is to just give the fourth champion s league spot to the cup winners. instantly as well as making the FA cup relevant again for clubs(I still believe most fans would swap a few league places for a cup) as well as potentially spreading the champions league wealth around as clubs that have no chance of finishing top 4 will always have a chance in a knockout competion which could also result in a slightly more balance playing field in the premier league and who knows maybe even spread a bit more mo.ey outside the top flight on the odd ocassion. The main reasons I can see for this not happening is the power the top clubs hold and it not being in there best interests, and the fear of having teams which cannot compete at that level qualify bringing the danger of losing that fourth place.

  • Tone Army

    The answer would be to turn yourself into a force in the league and then cup success will follow, but the focus must remain on being a consistent league side.

    European success is a bigger priority europa league or not, the financial benefits are too small in comparison.

    Most of the consistent Prem finishers stumble upon a cup or two, lets hope this is the plan.

  • griff

    Bring back the Cup-winners cup!

    • glasshalfempty

      I agree, Old Skool Rools are the best.  straight forward two-legs, winner takes all!!!

  • We get a disproportionate amount of embarrassing defeats in the cups WAY too many far FAR more than any other.
    What makes it all the worse is how the national media wallow in our misery, and even try to make it worse as that a***hole on ESPN last year did in making a song and dance about Cabaye, enough to ghet him banned (but ignored our blatant penalty-that-wasn’t). Its hardly the first time that dick Ray Stubbs has done this though. He comes from the BBC who have a history of it.