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Opinion

The greatest ever Newcastle United final day of the season

4 months ago
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What is your greatest ever final day of a Newcastle United season?

Obviously I am talking about games you were at, or at least alive when it / they happened.

Otherwise we could all say Hughie Gallacher leading Newcastle to the league title back in the 20s. Naturally the 1920s not 2020s, remember, this is NUFC.

For me, there is one that stands out well above the rest.

Exactly 23 years ago, the 11 May 1997.

The Premier League table after 37 of the 38 Premier League matches showed Man Utd already champions on 72 points.

However, for the first time the club that ended up second, would go into the final qualifying round of the next season’s Champions League.

Ahead of the final round of matches, Liverpool were second on 67 points and had a +25 goal difference, then Newcastle third on 65 points and a +28 goal difference, Arsenal fourth with exact same points and GD but had scored nine goals less than NUFC.

So Kenny Dalglish’s (Kevin Keegan had resigned in January 1997) had an outside chance of that second place as they took the pitch at St James Park against already relegated Nottingham Forest.

The sun shone and we watched on as…

The final scoreline: Newcastle 5 Nottingham Forest 0,  with goals from Asprill 20, Ferdinand 23 and 26, Shearer 36, Elliott 77.

Bear in mind that this was back in the days before you could follow everything on a phone, the mobile phones that did exist back then were for phoning people, not connecting to the internet.

So with pretty much every Newcastle fan still inside St James Park, we waited for the stadium announcer after the final whistle…

Derby 1 Arsenal 3, so the Gunners hadn’t overtaken us as they would have needed a six goal win.

Next up, Sheffield Wednesday 1 Liverpool 1, yes! That confirmed Newcastle ended the season as runners up, level on points with the scousers but an eight goal better GD.

What a day, surely it couldn’t get even better…

As well as the fight for Champions League qualification there was also a tight battle for relegation, Forest already down and two from Southampton, Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Coventry to join them.

The final scores read out were Villa 1 Southampton 0, Tottenham 1 Coventry 2, Leeds 1 Middlesbrough 1 and Wimbledon 1 Sunderland 0.

Sunderland and Middlesbrough both relegated!! Obviously we aren’t really bothered about Middlesbrough but it simply added to the fun.

If either Sunderland or Middlesbrough had won their final game, they would have survived. Likewise, even if Coventry had only drawn at Spurs, the Mackems would have survived.

There was some serious drinking done in Newcastle city centre that night, hopefully we will all be doing similar in the not so distant future after this takeover and Newcastle United on their way back to fulfilling the potential that will always be there.

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