Well first off, I’m massively happy to see Newcastle United bounce back at the first attempt.
Rafa’s boys did exactly what was required of them and, although it’s become a slog recently, we’ve got what we deserve. Overall, I think the season has been a success. There will need to be some big changes to personnel in the summer but I do think we have a decent core.
The purpose of this article isn’t to debate whether this season has gone to plan. I’m here to discuss the records we’ve failed to break thus far. Has anyone noticed how as soon as a record has been mentioned this season, everything has gone pear shaped in relation to that record?
As the season has progressed various records have presented themselves to be broken. One by one though they’ve fallen by the wayside.
Anyone who thought that the league was going to be a breeze and that we may be the first team to get through it unbeaten, had their parades well and truly rained on by the opening day defeat to Fulham.
Some people whispered that we could go for Reading’s record points haul but after a second consecutive defeat that appeared to be beyond us too.
These were always unrealistic goals though. I’m going to talk about the ones we might have broken.
Wins in a row
The first record that we were chasing was the most wins in a row. The current record of 13 wins on the bounce has stood since 1992 and was set by a fantastic Kevin Keegan side. That side won the last 2 games of the 91/92 season and then stormed into the 92/93 season with another 11 consecutive wins.
As we got to 6, 7, 8 in a row, people began to speculate on whether we could beat this 25 year record. Unfortunately, 8 was as far as we got. In a game against Blackburn where we had 66% possession and 15 shots to 11, we ended up losing 0-1 at home for the streak to end.
We lost the next Championship game in even more frustrating circumstances, two players wrongly being sent off in a 2-1 defeat to Nottingham Forest. We went on to win our next 3 games and if we had won those previous 2, that we maybe should have, we would have equalled the record before playing Sheffield Wednesday at home with the chance of beating it.
We lost that one 0-1 but it may have been different had we had the 13 game winning streak intact. I, for one, felt we looked pretty indomitable whilst that run was going.
Goals in a season
There was a point in the season that people were starting to eye up a couple of goalscoring records for our nifty number nine; Dwight Gayle.
The two records being mentioned were Hughie Gallacher’s 90 year record of 36 league goals in a season and Andy Cole’s 24 year record of 41 goals in all competitions.
When Dwight Gayle steamed onto 20 goals he became the first player to do that for Newcastle since Alan Shearer. It seemed the least he would do is break the Championship record of 30 goals in a single season (since the Championship’s inception in 2004).
The 20 goals in 22 games was a fantastic feat but, as we all know, a succession of hamstring injuries have faltered Gayle’s progress and he’s only added another 2 goals to his tally.
When talking about being cursed by hunting records, this one is the most prominent and baffling of the lot. If it wasn’t for our away form this season we probably wouldn’t have gained this instant return to the Premier League.
We’ve disappointed at home on several occasions but, for so long, we have impressed away from home. In fact, we’ve been doing so well we’re 1 win away from beating our post-war record for the amount of away wins in a season.
It is again Kevin Keegan’s side that hold this record for the 13 away wins they accumulated in 92/93. When we won back to back away games against the teams in 2nd and 3rd at the time, Brighton and Huddersfield, we took our tally to 13 away wins for the season.
This form and these wins looked not only to have set us up to break the record but also to win the title, having demoralised our two nearest contenders. Up next was 4th place Reading and our first chance to break the record. I went down to this game and was so excited at the opportunity to witness history. We drew 0-0. So I didn’t get to see this bit of history first hand but, with 4 away games remaining, we’d surely break the record.
A draw with Birmingham and defeats to Sheffield Midweek and Ipswich Town means that we are now down to our final chance do it. Fortunately, I do have a ticket to Cardiff so get my second opportunity to witness the record breaking moment. It’ll be so disappointing if we don’t break this record. Having won 13 of our first 18 away games it’d be a real shame to not win any of the last 5.
Of course (most) records don’t really count for much. The main goal was to gain promotion and we’ve achieved that but it’d be nice to have something extra to show for it, so fingers crossed we beat Cardiff.
Also, if we win both our last two games we could still win the title but, even if we didn’t, by finishing on 94 points we’d break the record of the highest points tally for a team finishing second since the Championship’s formation.
It would also be a points tally that would have seen us finish top in 9 of the previous 12 Championship campaigns. That would be a good record to wave in the faces of those that say we’ve flopped this season.
You can follow the author on Twitter @billymerlin
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