What are the Greatest Comebacks ever. Not just in the history of Newcastle United. Not just in the history of football, or sport. The Greatest Comebacks Ever.
To be properly scientific, one must define one’s terms – nobody can expect their conclusions to be taken seriously unless they are precise about their terms of reference. So, I put it to you that there are 3 types of ‘comeback’.
One type of ‘comeback’ occurs when a person is in one place, goes away, and then comes back. The greatest example of this species of comeback is Kevin Keegan. In 1984 he went off in a helicopter. Then, in 1992, he came back.
That’s not what I’m talking about.
Another type of ‘comeback’ happens, in football, when a team is behind, and then comes back. So, for example in 2011 Newcastle came back from 4-0 down against Arsenal.
That’s not what I’m talking about either.
I’m talking about the type of ‘comeback’ when somebody is down and out, his reputation is in the gutter, it seems like he is all washed-up – finished – and then he comes storming back. Like a phoenix from the ashes.
That’s what I’m talking about. The 5 greatest Phoenix-from-the-ashes comebacks.
Rising from obscure beginnings, became the Emperor of France and the Most Powerful Man in the World. In 1814, after virtually everyone else ganged up against him, he was defeated, deposed, and sent into exile on the little island of Elba. In 1815 he slipped his guards, hopped back on a boat, landed in France, unannounced, with no army. And within a few weeks he had swept back to power.
He did meet his Waterloo a few months afterwards – but what a comeback! How do you better that?
As First Lord of the Admiralty during the First World War, Churchill devised and vigorously promoted the idea of opening up a second front by a landing on the Dardanelles in Turkey. The Gallipoli landings turned out to be a calamitous bloodbath. Whether the failure was Churchill’s fault, or the fault of Generals and Admirals who took a good plan and buggered it up, is a moot point. But the upshot was that Churchill was the man at the top, and he carried the can. In ignominy, he resigned his post and went off to serve on the Western Front.
After the war he continued to be viewed as a bit of a nutter, who wouldn’t stop banging on about the Germans. He just went on and on and on about it – like some mad conspiracy theorist, telling everyone that would listen that Terrible Things were about to happen.
Until of course he was proven right. Appointed as Prime Minister in 1940 at the country’s lowest point, he went on to save the Nation, and probably the Civilised World. Result.
In the course of just a couple of years in the late 50s, Elvis changed the world. Then, in 1958 he was drafted into the US military. After his military service, he spent the 1960s tied up in deals done by his Manager – the infamous ‘Colonel’ Tom Parker – a man so unscrupulous he makes Mike Ashley look like an absolute beginner. Appearing in a string of generally dreadful movies, probably the greatest live performer of all time made not a single live musical appearance throughout the 60s. While the modern musical movement which he had invented blossomed all around him, the King was become little more than a joke.
Then in 1968 he suddenly re-appeared in a live TV broadcast – the Comeback Special. Arguably the best musical performance ever (If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favour, go on youtube and search Elvis If I Can Dream).
Thank you very much!
At number 2 – Jesus Christ almighty! – it’s Jesus Christ Almighty.
The son of God – he died a criminal’s death, and was buried.
And then on the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven, and took up his seat at God’s right hand.
As comebacks go, how can you possibly beat that?
On this occasion Jesus is beaten by Mohamed.
Bought to help lift us back out of the Championship, for a season-and-a-half there appeared to have been a case of mistaken identity. Surely this great lump shuffling about the pitch couldn’t be someone that Rafa thought was worth millions-of-pounds? Surely the real Mo Diame was locked up in a trunk somewhere, and the great lummox in front of us was an imposter?
I do recall during the early part of last season taking issue with someone-or-other who had written that Diame was “the worst player ever to play for Newcastle.” And the best that I could come up with in Mo’s support was that the writer obviously hadn’t been watching NUFC very long. Those of us who have put in the years have seen many and many a worse player than him clunking about in the black-and-white stripes. But that’s about the best that could be said for him – that he probably wasn’t absolutely the worst we’d seen. Talk about being damned with faint praise!
He was terrible. Week after week you would look at the Mag’s match ratings, and there he would be – rock bottom. The highlight of that first season-and-a-half was him scoring off his heel against Brighton. I’ve just reminded myself by watching it on youtube – “Extraordinary goal by Diame — who seemed to know so little about it!”, says the commentator. The groans when he appeared on the teamsheet, or on the touchline.
And then something happened. As far as I recall, it started away at West Ham. Out of nowhere, he played a blinder. A fluke surely? No – it carried on week after week. It took some of us a while to catch up. His match ratings at first remained a bit lower than he deserved – perhaps we were still a bit suspicious. But as the season rolled on, and Big Mo continued to roll over the opposition, we could see that some metamorphosis had taken place.
What a joy – week after week, to see this massive big unit, thundering about in black-and-white stripes and being suddenly, miraculously, wonderful.
There is a legend about the blues singer Robert Johnson. An unknown street-musician, who one day walked into a studio out of nowhere, recorded some of the most famous blues songs of all time, then disappeared back in to obscurity and an early death. How had he suddenly become so good? The legend is that he had taken his guitar down to the crossroads, where he met the devil. In return for his soul, the devil made him, briefly, the king of the blues.
I begin to wonder if Mo has done something similar. Sometime last December, did Mo take a trip down to the crossroads? If he did, lets hope that under the terms of his Agreement, his supernatural-super-powers continue into the coming season.