I’m not one who watches or listens to a lot of football that doesn’t involve Newcastle United. To be honest, It’s been hard enough watching our own lot over the last few seasons.
However, the Liverpool v Man City champions league clash did catch my imagination. Two very good teams that play some pretty superb football, fighting for a semi final place. The trouble was that watching the two games got me reminiscing about our European exploits, which now seem a long time ago.
Sadly for younger readers, there is only Pardew’s 2013 season to reflect on, which is the only season in the past ten, we have got across the channel.
For the older ones amongst us however, it certainly wasn’t always like that. For a wonderful 13 year period between 1994 and 2006, we were involved in Europe on 10 occasions.
Add in our exploits in the 60s and 70s, and this club has played over 130 matches in Europe, which is a pretty impressive total.
When it comes to choosing the greatest game amongst those, then Barcelona will obviously win hands down, and Feyenoord probably coming second,
But there have been many other games which live long in the memory….
Marseille or Lisbon. Munich or Monaco, Rome or Bilbao. These really were heady days.
The Barca game was a truly magical night, although I was probably the only person leaving the ground that night without a smile on my face. That was because I had 5 quid on Asprilla and 3-1, which with a minute left was going to win me £750 quid.
I hate Luis Figo.
How about two other games during that campaign? Juventus at home, when Andy Griffin got the winner, or Inter Milan in the San Siro, when Shearer put us ahead before we eventually drew the game.
I would love to say that I was there for that trip to Italy – but I wasn’t. Looking back , I wonder if I could have found the cash, but with a young family I remember struggling to justify the money I needed to my wife, and eventually didn’t make the trip. For those that did go, I envy you even now.
The home game against Bilbao was an amazing night. Well most of it was. In Keegan’s first season in Europe, we tore into the Spaniards and went three goals up . In hindsight, shutting up shop after Andy Cole’s goal would have been the thing to do, but that just wasn’t what this team did. Sadly, this cost us two goals late on and eventually put us out of the tie, but for the first hour, we were magical.
But for me, a nondescript UEFA cup second round tie against Halmstads from Sweden in 1996 sticks long in the memory, and probably was my happiest game.
Just four years earlier, this club was getting stuffed 4-0 at Southend but here we were, winning in Europe 4-0, with a ridiculous formation of 3-2-5 . The forward line being Ginola, Beardsley, Shearer, Ferdinand and Asprilla.
Keegan invented playstation football way before EA Sports.
As is the way, the recent upturn in our form has got me dreaming of better things again. Just a little bit more and could we be fighting for a UEFA spot ?
Ever the optimist!
But the truth is, I’m not stupid enough to think that we are anywhere near that just yet, however, if we could just add a little more quality to this very hard working, tight knit team, it isn’t inconceivable that we could be going through the channel tunnel, sooner rather than later. After all that’s gone on, what an achievement that would be.
I can then get that Milan monkey off my back and start to dream of trips to Atromitos, Metalist Kharkiv and Anzhi Makhachkala!!