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Opinion

Kevin Keegan – I will never ever forget ‘Black Wednesday’

1 month ago
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I remember screaming “Dad, Dad! Keegan’s gone, he’s left!” There were some who called it ‘Black Wednesday’ on Tyneside.

Fans left in stunned silence on the streets, others crying in disbelief.

Fourth in the league and five points behind leaders Liverpool, the news that Kevin Keegan had resigned left a city in complete shock.

My head was buried in my father’s chest as I tried to make sense of it all. It was as if a loved one had passed away. Keegan took Newcastle from the brink of relegation from the second division to the dizzy heights of the Premier League with such style. The city had lost its buzz, we had lost a man of the people.

Children booed teachers as they gathered everyone together in assembly halls across the North East to break the news. The majority booed while those few glory hunting Manchester United supporters cheered with joy. This was more than a football manager resigning. Kevin Keegan was already a hero in our hearts before he came back to manage this football club. He rejuvenated the club, fans and city. Keegan brought the good times to Newcastle.

I was five years old at the time and Keegan managing Newcastle was all I had known. I understood the reaction to his resignation, what I couldn’t understand was how quickly people seemed to move on. There was excitement building when news started to filter through that Newcastle wanted to bring in Sir Bobby Robson from Barcelona. However, Robson wanted to honour his contract with the Catalan giants, so Kenny Dalglish’s name was thrown into the hat. More excitement built, as fans began to believe reuniting Alan Shearer with Dalglish would be the final piece in the quest to win a trophy. In everyone’s excitement of Dalglish being announced as Newcastle’s new manager, I was still struggling to come to terms with Keegan’s departure.

I sat on top of my Father’s shoulders as we read The Chronicle’s piece on Keegan’s resignation. Shocked, confused and utterly speechless. In terms of pure emotion, nothing comes close to that in terms of Newcastle United. It didn’t matter who or what age you were, people were in floods of tears at the news. From the most experienced of supporters to the children who had just begun supporting the club, everyone was completely devastated.

My father, a strong man who showed very little emotion away from the Gallowgate end, was reduced to tears. He attended Keegan’s final game as a Newcastle player and continues to tell the story of Kevin Keegan leaving St James’ Park via helicopter until he’s blue in the face. For Keegan’s departure to reduce a tough man like my father to tears shows the impact he had.

My father felt let down and thought that Keegan would’ve won the league had he remained on Tyneside. My father felt that Newcastle weren’t far away from finishing the season as champions. What he, or anyone else, did not realise was just how hard Keegan took throwing away a 12 point lead to Manchester United. Perhaps, Keegan felt the hurt more than the fans. Les Ferdinand believed that Newcastle’s failure to win the league changed Keegan, describing it as “Almost as though a light had gone out in his head.”

I felt numb and there was a feeling of emptiness that I have rarely experienced since. To me, at such a young age, it felt like the end of Newcastle United.

I had only just started on my journey of being a supporter, attending games with my father and being completely brainwashed. I couldn’t understand why Keegan left, I just couldn’t get my head around it. As a five-year-old, I genuinely thought Keegan would be at Newcastle forever. I had posters of him plastered on my bedroom walls. I remember taking them down three months after his resignation, I put them away safely in a box in the hope that one day he would return.

Had Newcastle gone on to win the league in the 95/96 campaign, Keegan would undoubtedly have remained as manager for years to come. That season destroyed Keegan and he couldn’t let go of that disappointment. I will never ever forget ‘Black Wednesday’ and looking up at my Father in tears, heartbroken by the news of Keegan’s resignation. We’ve been through FA Cup Final heartbreak (Twice), Sir Bobby Robson’s sacking and two relegations but nothing comes close to the emotion of Black Wednesday. It was a turning point for the club, the good times came back fleetingly under Sir Bobby Robson but the heart was ripped out of Newcastle the day Kevin Keegan left.

(This article originally appeared on the excellent NE1’s Game website, you can also follow them on Twitter @game_ne1)

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