Following Newcastle Away – Best Days Of Our Lives
Looking at the ticket stubs blue-tacked to my wall, got me thinking about the amount of away games I’ve been to and how my infamous jinx has followed me round the country with the lads.
As a superstitious man I refuse to even apply for the away derby matches for fear that Mr Fate may get tempted and the entire Geordie nation will suffer for my behaviour!
People often touch upon how much time, effort and money they spend on the Toon with very little in return but has anyone really broken down their experiences to check just how ‘lucky’ they’ve been over the years.
Having a season ticket for 6 years makes it an arduous task to pick through all the matches I’ve ever been to but what about just the aways, they’re the ones that hit the pocket the hardest and take up most of your day (or weekend!).
I love away games, the craic, the mates, the excitement of being in a new city and watching the team in a new stadium…but it’s safe to say my personal away record is sketchy at best!
It all started fairly well, at least there was a superb performance on my first trip to see Newcastle away from St James’. Wembley provided the venue and the famous old stadium saw a Bobby Robson inspired United take the 2000 FA cup semi-final to Chelsea in a game we dominated and were desperately unlucky not to win. Of all the regrets over the years perhaps that remains the biggest, our name was on the cup that year!
I had to wait 18 months for my next away game which was at Elland road, a superb day saw Newcastle win 4-3 in the last minute, United on top of the league and I bumped into Peter Beardsley in Mcdonalds. Happy memories of a great time to be alive!
At this point, it started to go downhill and dramatically the wheels came spinning off my away day results (although the experiences remained fantastic). I saw goals galore in my 3 games south of Tyneside in 2002/2003, unfortunately 13 of them were conceded as we lost 5-2 at Ewood Park, 5-3 at Old Trafford and 3-2 in the cup at Wolves! Not what I was hoping to see.
The following season I thought I’d broken the jinx at Goodison Park but Everton scored a last minute penalty in a 2-2 draw, I also took in a woeful 1-0 defeat at the Reebok as well as a final day draw at Anfield to make it 6 on the bounce without a win, things were about to get a whole load worse…
Having turned 18 and moved to Lancaster for the next season, I managed to get to 5 away games, this spelt bad news for the lads however as we came away from Villa (Robson’s last game) Charlton, Arsenal, Cardiff (FA cup semi final) and Everton without a win, our only point coming at the Valley courtesy of Craig Bellamy.
A more unsettled year for me (and the Toon it has to be said) saw me only make one appearance away the next season. Miracles do happen sometimes though and I managed to see Shola and N’Zogbia score in a 2-1 win at Villa Park. I was living and working in Torquay for the final 3 months of the season so managed to miss almost all of the Roeder revolution (perhaps I should just stay as far away from Newcastle as possible come to think of it, there was a dramatic upturn in our fortunes!). Back in the North East come September and living in Gateshead for 2006/2007. I managed 3 more away games but not a single win, losing to Villa and Charlton in the league and drawing 2-2 at Birmingham in a cup match we really should have won, this had disastrous consequences in the replay.
I managed to get to 6 away matches the season after and still didn’t see a single victory, this statistic is even worse when you take into account I was at Carlisle in pre-season. The one that stands out was the dreadful 6-0 at Old Trafford, it was 0-0 at half-time and I was telling anyone daft enough to listen that the game was there for the taking!
I did see us beat Hartlepool that summer but I’ve been told by mates that this doesn’t excuse the abysmal away record for some reason! We also lost at Doncaster before I got to 6 competitive away matches (living back in Lancaster) without a win in our atrocious relegation season (saw canny draws at Old Trafford and Goodison mind).
I got to 2 away games in our championship season and thank God they were both victories, Preston was a good laugh as Kevin Nolan scored the decisive goal while Peterborough seemed like a long way to travel considering the away end was so packed I could barely see the pitch! Atmosphere was quality as we beat the relegated side 3-2 to confirm their demotion.
I was obviously on a bit of a roll now and trips to Everton and Blackburn saw us win 1-0 and draw 0-0 respectively, with the highlight of the entire campaign for me being Hatem Ben Arfa blasting in a 25 yarder on his debut.
My roll kind of continued the season before last as well, I managed to see victories over Blackburn and West Brom as well as a draw with Villa (I’ll just try and gloss over a league cup defeat and a 5-0 hammering from spurs).
Unfortunately my run of good form has been brought to a shuddering halt this season; 5 away games, no wins, two 0-0 draws (plus a 1-1 with West Brom) and two defeats do not make happy reading.
Despite the couple of wins, a few draws and the many many many defeats I’ve had the dubious pleasure of seeing live, I wouldn’t swap any of my away days for the world. I’ve seen Newcastle United in the flesh in countless stadiums all over the country and represented the travelling Toon Army with pride, whilst meeting people who have gone on to become some of my closest friends. one day I’d love to see the lads away in Europe.
Roll on next season!
For the record I’ve just worked out that my personal away record (including friendlies) currently looks like this: P 45 W 8 D 13 L 24.
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