Another NUFC Double Over Manchester United?
It’s probably fair to say that we just don’t do doubles over Manchester United – and I bet that a lot of Mags have the year we last won away at Man U (1972) etched in their memories, including one or two that weren’t even born then – but even that famous triumph wasn’t part of a double! In fact to find the last one of those you have to go all the way back to 1930/31, a season in which we beat them 7-4 away and 4-3 at home in Division One. It was a year in which Newcastle, four seasons on from our last league title, finished seventeenth and Manchester were relegated to Division Two in 22nd place.
Maybe, given such a record, we should just aim for a different kind of double against them – how about consecutive home wins? Even those are hard to find though – although of course we stand on the brink of achieving exactly that this weekend, following on from last season’s late New Year celebration!
The truth is we just haven’t won that many games against them in the last forty or fifty-odd years, which is why the ones we have won – particularly the most recent – are all the more memorable. I expect nearly all of us will remember the 5-0, having either been at St James Park on that remarkable day, or seen it on Sky Sports or the ‘Howay Five-Oh!’ video release. My copy eventually jammed at the place where David Batty lifted Nicky Butt clear of the ground by his throat!
36,000 of us were there again to witness a 3-0 tonking of them three and a half seasons later under Sir Bobby, and another 16,000 on top of that (quite literally) saw us do them 4-3 – and Alan Shearer ‘do’ Roy Keane – little over a year later. We then had to wait ten years for the next time though – last season’s epic 3-0, with Demba Ba and Yohan Cabaye stealing the show.
Ten years is a long time but even the meagre eighteen months that elapsed between wins two and three in that sequence didn’t allow for back-to-back home wins. In fact we have to go right back the 1980s and the managerial reign of Willie McFaul to find the last time Newcastle recorded consecutive wins over Man United at SJP in the league. Just for the record, they were in the old Football League Division One: 2-1 in April 1987, with Glenn Roeder and Paul Goddard the scorers; and 1-0 on Boxing Day of the same year, with Roeder again on the scoresheet.
So here we stand on the brink of achieving something we haven’t done for almost quarter of a century. It might not seem like much in the grand scheme of things but amid the last two decades of near all-conquering Man United sides, it’s something that the likes of Kevin Keegan, Bobby Robson and Alan Shearer have all failed to do. Maybe we should resurrect the old ‘Half Time Hero’ feature this Sunday and ask Glenn and Sarge to do the honours.
Back in December 87, I remember the Sports Report summariser on Radio Two mixing his metaphors, post match, and raving on about ‘the Bedlington Terrier spirit’ of the Newcastle side that day. It was of course a cockney that had scored the winning goal! If on Sunday, when I’m in the club after the game, I hear the Sky Sports anchor concluding their coverage by saying something similar – when in fact one (or both) of our Senegalese strikers have made the difference – I for one won’t be in any hurry to complain.
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