It was one of those JFK, Princess Diana or 9/11 moments for me and probably thousands of other Newcastle United fans. However, on this occasion the circumstances were far from tragic.
It’s late July in Benidorm 1996, I’m 25 years old and sitting round the pool with a couple of mates on our annual lads holiday. We’d lost a couple to marriage that summer, one who got married the day Gazza scored that raker against the Jocks, which I’ve never let him forget – tucking into our chicken dinner at the time Dunston’s finest was putting it in the net. Another had become besotted and also missed that Gazza goal, as he was sitting in the airport waiting to fly off on a romantic holiday for 2, you know who you are!! Four of us remained, not quite musketeers.
Anyway, back in Spain this bloke who we’d said ‘Alreet’ to a few times but hadn’t really spoken to (he had the biggest half-finished Man Utd emblem/Cantona tattoo covering his entire back) shouts over:-
“You lads must be happy this morning”.
Me – “Why’s that like?”
Him – “Have you not heard?”
Me – “Heard what?”
Him – “You’ve signed Shearer”
Me – “Aye, whatever mate”.
His friend – “Honestly lads, you have”.
So after a few moments of thinking we’re being taken advantage of again by the lovely people of Manchester, we seem to get the consensus that it might be true. No mobile phones then to check instantly with those in the know back home. No SKY sports in the apartments but a pay TV in the room.
So we quickly leg it to the room, via the lifts as we were on the 18th floor. 50 pesetas (Old School Euros) in the meter and Eurosports News confirms it. Shearer has indeed signed for the Toon. We sit and watch the looped news until the 50 shekels runs out, while I get a photo taken with SHEARER 9 in suncream on my back (I still claim I was first to have that honour). Then straight back to the pool bar for a celebratory round of beer, despite the hangover from the previous night we were trying to get rid of. Best hangover cure ever.
I have a more vague recollection of when Keegan signed as a player, although started taking a bit more notice once the first season ticket arrived courtesy of my old man. I was too young to appreciate that signing fully but this was Shearer, surely the final piece in the jigsaw to clinching some silverware. Hindsight is a wonderful thing as it turned out but those remaining days in Benidorm in ’96 were spent with the chest puffed out a bit further, the smile a bit wider and loads of people wanting to talk to us about our new signing.
How times have changed in the transfer market for NUFC. Will we ever see a signing like that again, or will the frugal policy currently employed prove to be more successful?
I’ll tell you with the benefit of hindsight again in another 16 years’ time. Bloody Hell, I’ll be a kick in the arse off 60 by then!!
Surely a League Cup win at least in that time isn’t too much to ask for, is it?
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