Newcastle United match now called off – I’ve heard that somewhere before…
Newcastle United match now called off, the game on Sunday at West Ham not now happening.
A crazy decision this, with every other major sport set to go ahead this weekend, but this is not yet another article about how shameful the Premier League and The FA are, in their reaction to the Queen’s death (deny football fans the chance to pay tribute AND for zero good reason refusing to allow us to go about our normal business, whilst Cricket, Golf and Rugby fans do).
Enough of that anyway.
Instead, I want to take a trip back in time to Newcastle United matches in the past that have been called off.
I know there are loads more that I have missed out and simply don’t recall, you can remind me in the comments section below.
Actually back in my early days going to games, late 70s and into the 80s, it was common place for games to be called off when there was any amount of snow or frozen pitches, even rain at times, pitches and clubs not really able to cope in many instances. Whilst transport and roads / cars weren’t exactly great as well back in the day.
Anyway, here are a few random stand out memories, Newcastle United games called off in the past:
Appropriately, I will kick off with West Ham.
West Ham v Newcastle – Sunday 31 December 1995
Called off due to a frozen pitch.
If only it had went ahead then who knows…
The match was eventually played Wednesday 21 February 1996 and Newcastle United lost 2-0.
An absolutely woeful referee and amongst his shocking decisions, denying NUFC a penalty for this absolutely crystal clear pulling of Tino’s shirt in the box when the game was goalless…
This game set in motion a run of eight Premier League games where Newcastle lost five and won only two. To put it into perspective, Kevin Keegan’s team only lost three other games that season, as NUFC only just missed out on the title.
West Ham v Newcastle – Wednesday 1 February 1997
This was a classic.
Drove all the way down from Newcastle, parked up near Upton Park.
It was raining pretty hard as we got into the ground not that long before kick-off. About two minutes later, announcement called off due to waterlogged pitch!
The rearranged match eventually took place just before end of the season, returning to Upton Park on Tuesday 6 May 1997 to watch a goalless draw…
It was a happy ending though as that point made a difference, the final day of the season five days later seeing that sensational end to the campaign, Newcastle United sneaking into second place and Champions League football, whilst both the Mackems and Smoggies were relegated.
Which brings me on to…
Middlesbrough v Newcastle – Saturday 1 February 2003
This was outrageous.
It became clear that Middlesbrough were determined to get this game called off, from what I remember they had players out injured and wanted to delay when it was played.
There had been snow in the region but nothing really bad, yet on the Friday it was announced it was off. Even the normally very restrained Sir Bobby was apoplectic with the Smoggies cheating.
The Guardian reporting – 31 January 2003:
Sir Bobby Robson was furious last night with Newcastle’s neighbours Middlesbrough after the Teesside club called off today’s encounter at the Riverside Stadium, writes Michael Walker.
The Newcastle manager said his club would make a formal complaint to the Premier League over the cancellation.
The Riverside pitch was deemed playable yesterday morning but Middlesbrough were concerned about the safety of spectators in the stands, where there was ice and snow.
Boro had consulted with safety officers, police and the Stockton-based referee Jeff Winter, but Robson said: “It’s a very bad thing for us and in all honesty I am really angry about it.
“I don’t think there was much will on Middlesbrough’s part to play the game.”
Yes, Middlesbrough in consultation with Middlesbrough supporting referee Jeff Winter…
The game eventually played on Wednesday 5 March 2003 and Boro winning 1-0 with a Geremi goal, the cheats had triumphed.
In the end thankfully it probably didn’t matter, Newcastle United ending up third in the Premier League, nine points behind Arsenal and fourteen adrift of champions Man Utd.
Newcastle v Wrexham – Wednesday 28 January 1979
Officially, the wettest I had ever been at a match.
A cloudburst in the lead up to kick-off saw extreme amounts of rain fall.
We were just over two thirds of the way through the season, below halfway in the second tier, absolutely nothing to play for.
This was back in the day when pretty much nobody had a season ticket, so everybody just paid match by match.
The smallest ever post-war / modern day crowd for a Newcastle United league match in attendance, all 7,152 of us. I remember those few of us in the Gallowgate End huddled together like those images you see of Penguins grouped on some rocky frozen outcrop. In our case huddled together for some kind of minimal protection from the driving rain that continued throughout the first half.
The amount of water on the pitch was extraordinary, passes going about two yards on average unless the ball played in the air. I remember Alan Shoulder sliding for this ball / tackle, must have aqua planed some 20 yards on his back.
Back then I am pretty sure that matches had to get to half-time, or else fans had to be refunded. We got to half-time and game abandoned.
Moving on to Tuesday 8 May and the rearranged game played after the final round of scheduled matches, Newcastle United actually somehow ending up an almost respectable eighth in Division Two. A new post-war record crowd achieved, exactly 18 less turned up than the 7,152 who had paid to watch the 45 minutes of the abandoned one. A crowd of 7,134 seeing Jim Pearson and Alan Shoulder score in a 2-0 win over Wrexham. I was young and stupid and would do anything to watch Newcastle United back then, not much has changed, apart from older and even more stupid.
Newcastle v Sunderland – Sunday 25 April 1993
Now we conclude with a match which should have been called off…but wasn’t!
Another game where we saw absolute torrential rain ahead of kick-off.
Inside St James’ Park, serious amounts of water on pitch and still chucking it down.
This was of course the original over the wall, Scott Sellars scoring a brilliant tenth minute free-kick to etch his name in mackem slaying history.
Somehow they played this game out to the end, a very close second to that Wrexham match 14 years earlier, in terms of how wet I was. Two days later we went to Grimsby and goals from Cole and Kelly(!!!) confirmed promotion as champions.
It later emerged that the Police had dictated the match had to go ahead, despite the conditions. Basically, pretty much any other opposition and it would have been abandoned before kick-off, or certainly during the game. However, the coppers worried about the mayhem that could ensue if calling off the match and what could kick off with the mackems outside, especially with two angry groups of fans denied their game.
As I said, interested to hear your tales of Newcastle United matches called off in the past.
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to email@example.com