From 16,000 empty seats to 100,000 Newcastle fans in 4 days
Seven years ago, it was a very different August as Newcastle fans faced life in the Championship.
No players bought in, no permanent manager appointed as Chris Hughton was given a caretaker role, whilst Mike Ashley was (allegedly) trying to sell the club.
It is easy at a later date to look back at 2009/10 as a bit of a jolly, a year spent out of the Premier League with Newcastle fans simply enjoying a year out of the top tier circus before the expected stroll back up.
The mood though was very different at the time…Alan Shearer had rallied the fans and capacity crowds in the final two home fixtures of 2008/09, had done their best to help the demotivated layabouts haul themselves over the survival line.
Sadly we all know the rest, relegation and the club in civil war with fans disgusted at the way Mike Ashley had dragged the club into the gutter – and in the process totally alienated Newcastle’s two greatest living icons, Shearer and Keegan.
If you asked the average Newcastle fan, not many would get close to guessing that 36,944 was the first home crowd of that ultimately very successful 2009/10 promotion season.
Newcastle United had lost their Premier League status and in the meantime, a third of the match-going fans had turned their backs.
A Shola hat-trick against Reading got that season properly up and running, the team, manager and fans never really looking back.
The supporters did bond with Chris Hughton and his players, with average crowds of close to forty four thousand over the course of the season. Though despite the impressive 102 points and 90 goals, it took until the very final home match for Newcastle to get a gate of fifty thousand.
Seven years later and Newcastle have managed to keep an iconic person in charge and a capacity crowd of over fifty two thousand will greet the team on Saturday against Huddersfield.
Over a four day stretch St James Park could well see over 100,000 pass through the turnstiles for the home games against Huddersfield and Reading.
You have to be very confident that Rafa Beitez appreciates such madness, now the players in the short-term and Mike Ashley in the longer term have to prove they know how lucky they are and they will never be connected to a better club.
The challenge is on.
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