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Opinion

When this Newcastle United season finally kicked off…in 1986/87

1 month ago
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Back to the 30th of November 1986 and Newcastle United were looking for a result to help turn their season around.

Like this current one, we had a woeful start and had been entrenched in the bottom three.

The week before there had been a surprising and very rare win at Chelsea, Andy Thomas with two goals and Peter Beardsley with the other, but was that going to prove just a one-off freak result? Newcastle United desperately needed to follow that up, if they were going to stand a chance of getting out of trouble.

Everywhere we played, the song on the lips of opposing fans was a catchy little terrace ditty called “Your going down with the Villa”…..and even they had beaten us.

Before the game I was supping in the North Terrace pub with my mates and we basically all knew, it was now or never for Willie McFaul’s men to turn things around.

Next up at St James’ was West Ham United and their lethal front two of Tony Cottee and Frank McAvennie.

West Ham were playing some great stuff, and the previous season had finished third in the old First Division.

To add to the occasion, Newcastle United had recently signed Paul Goddard from the Hammers for a club record fee.

One of the main reasons West Ham had let Goddard join us was because of the prowess of Cottee and McAvennie.

The game was also being televised live on terrestrial TV…..so not much pressure on the Toon eh?

It was a dark and freezing afternoon but refreshingly it was Newcastle who began to play with adventure and abandonment, and a Neil McDonald goal put us ahead after half an hour.

Three minutes later and another recent signing, Andy Thomas, sent the Gallowgate into raptures with our second,
2-0 at half-time and the crowd was buzzing.

The second half began much like the first, the Newcastle players playing with a swagger and confidence not previously seen that season.

Paul Goddard was tremendous and it was glaringly obvious that we had found a new talisman in our hour of need.

It became 3-0 when Darren Jackson got his reward for another gutsy display, then near the end Andy Thomas rounded it all off with his second of the game.

Before we left, me and the lads had one more look at the scoreboard……Aye it really did say Newcastle 4 West Ham 0. (We had also gained some revenge on the Hammers for an 8-1 mauling at Upton Park the previous season, where we unbelievably had three different goalkeepers during the 90 minutes).

This is where the fightback really started in our successful battle with relegation in 1986/87, giving the team and supporters hope for the rest of the campaign.

Later on the Sunday evening I learned that Europe had got to Number 1 in the UK charts with the “Final Countdown”….and I swear it was an omen.

I then got my fixture list out and started looking where we could pick up enough points.

And we did in the end, but at least the terrace p.sstakers and choir boys got one thing right….Aston Villa were relegated.

Lets all hope that somehow Newcastle United can find a similar spark of ignition very soon and emulate the boys of 35 years ago.

HTL.

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