‘I punched the air when Callum Wilson scored that goal…and I loved it’
Callum Wilson had a pretty thankless task on Saturday.
Graeme Jones thrown in at the deep end and asked to stop the rot on a very temporary basis, only three days to prepare for the Crystal Palace match and massive pressures resting on his shoulders.
The match was shocking to watch for any neutral from an NUFC attacking perspective, as Jones rightly or wrongly went all out to scrape a vital point with a very defensive team selection and negative tactics.
Callum Wilson very much isolated and not helped by the fact that Newcastle’s only other players encouraged to support the centre-forward, Allan Saint-Maximin, was woeful. One of those days when he just didn’t really get going and from very early on you could see he wasn’t up for it, theatrically waving his arms around when challenged and falling to the ground with no foul given.
Anyway, Callum Wilson was starved of supply and support, the first half he had a half chance but from a very tight angle put it into the side netting.
Once Palace at last breached the Graeme Jones defensive black and white wall in the 56th minute, that looked it really from an NUFC perspective. Very difficult to see us getting anything, having not created a clear chance all game.
Then with 25 minutes left, Palace gave away a cheap corner and when it was sent over, chaos ensued and the ball hit Krafth and ballooned up in the air, only to be beautifully met by Callum Wilson, his perfectly executed overhead kick sending the ball precisely into the top corner.
I punched the air when Callum Wilson scored that goal…and I loved it.
So what I hear you shout, everybody was doing that…
Well, I have to put my hands up and admit that I had waited 29 months to do so.
The first twelve years of Mike Ashley rule had been overwhelmingly grim but I had just about held in there.
Employing the likes of Dennis Wise and JFK had really tested me but the Hughton recovery and then flukey 2011/12 fifth place finish and 2013/14 half season (until when competing top six, selling Cabaye mid-season and not buying anybody and the season collapsing) had just about kept me afloat.
Carver and McClaren very nearly finished me off but Rafa Benitez proved to be the driftwood that I could cling to, with his ongoing presence giving some hope of one day the club being ran on a professional ambitious basis, preferably under new owners or even amazingly under Mike Ashley, after he gave the Spaniards all kinds of guarantees of support.
That all proved to not be the case and so, 12 May 2019 was the last time I truly celebrated a Newcastle United goal. A visit to the capital and a very pleasant pre-match trip down the Thames with countless other Newcastle fans, culminating in a 4-0 hammering of Fulham and appropriately player of the season Salomon Rondon scoring with pretty much the last kick of the games and season.
The rest as they say, is history.
Ashley forced Rafa out and whilst this owner had made some truly embarrassing managerial appointments, this was by far the worst of all, Man Utd fan Steve Bruce coming in, something I had always dreaded.
The clueless management was all too predictable, same with the embarrassing behaviour in press conferences and interviews. It pushed me over the edge.
I still watched every single NUFC match where possible and even still travelled away to plenty BUT from that final whistle in May 2019 at Craven Cottage, I never truly properly celebrated another Newcastle United goal.
At best it felt a lot of the time just like going through the motions, at worst it felt like an NUFC goal was a negative as it just seemingly helped prolong the presence of Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce.
Of course it has now been all change and the takeover removed Ashley some three weeks ago, what a day!
Something stopped me getting tickets for Tottenham and some time after they had swiftly sold out maybe it explained why my subconscious had done so. Steve Bruce would still be in charge for that first game under new owners.
I did celebrate when Callum Wilson scored in that second minute and gave us brief hope, however, it was still just a maybe 80%/90% celebration as some part of me probably was thinking that somehow this could help lead to the new owners foolishly giving Bruce a bit more time, maybe even until the end of 2021, which could / would have been disastrous.
On Saturday though, any fog still hanging over the Tyne had truly cleared, so when Callum Wilson scored that brilliant goal, there was certainly nothing less there than 100% as I punched the air.
The game was a shocker but I loved it all, it was the first match in 29 months where I so so desperately wanted Newcastle United to win, or at least get a point, because it has meaning. Each result now is so important because it is a baby step leading to what could hopefully be far better times ahead.
Under Mike Ashley any result never led to anything. The plan was just to try and crawl from season to season and survive, nothing at all about building for the future on or off the pitch.
It was apt that now myself and other Newcastle fans can come blinking back into the light, this new era of post-Ashley AND Bruce was marked by such a spectacular first goal, thank you Callum Wilson.
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