That photo summed up the togetherness at Newcastle United these days
I thought Dave Coulson’s article on The Mag concerning the Sunderland 0 Newcastle 3 post-match photo in front of the massed ranks at the Stadium of Light, absolutely nailed it.
I’m not necessarily saying I agree entirely with Dave, who argued that this wasn’t about rubbing Mackems’ noses in it, because that is how the photo has been widely interpreted.
However, where I thought Dave made an extremely valid point, is that this Sunderland 0 Newcastle 3 photo represents a togetherness that has long been missing at our football club. The inclusion in the photo, of 6,000 travelling fans looking resplendent in their black and white scarves, courtesy of the club itself, meant there was an unusual departure from the more familiar backdrop of a dressing room wall.
As many commentators pointed out, those of a red and white persuasion have short memories if they were offended, given previous unsavoury antics precipitated by their own that accompanied recent wins over Newcastle United, whether pitch invasions, impudent tannoy announcements or an Italian upstart of dubious political persuasion knee sliding across our hallowed turf. And you can add to that list, the plane that circled over St James’ Park the day the curtain fell on our Premier League status in 2016 when we hammered Tottenham Hotspur by five goals to one.
I suspect a framed version or similar will already adorn the walls of some Newcastle United supporters and why not?
The point is, Eddie Howe commissioned twenty five such works of art last season (all competitions), and since that win over Man United at the beginning of December, only one more had been commissioned prior to the derby, despite us having played seven games in a crazy twenty five day spell up to and including our trip to Anfield on New Year’s Day.
Put simply, December had been very difficult and deeply unpleasant in equal measure. We were dumped out of the Champions League and Carabao Cup, when progression to the next round in both looked entirely possible until late on and the reason why exiting them was as painful as it was.
In addition, our league form faltered as we lost heavily at Everton and Spurs, before succumbing to Luton and Nottingham Forest, where for both of those games, if measured against our progression over the past couple of years, we were the ones who should have been winning.
The short trip to Wearside last Saturday therefore brought about an extra significance. If what was at stake in our first derby since 2016 wasn’t enough, virtually overnight the FA Challenge Cup became our only realistic prospect of silverware in a season that has been as frustrating as it has been disappointing, if only because of the ridiculous amount of injuries we’ve had to contend with, that being the principal reason for our uncharacteristic collapse in the month of December.
Whether the Sunderland 0 Newcastle 3 photo was taken to mock or celebrate (or both) is irrelevant as far as I’m concerned. As Dave Coulson acknowledged, it represented a real togetherness, extended to include our fans who Jason Tindall presumably felt would provide an impressive backdrop, a welcome departure from the ubiquitous dressing room wall.
Hopefully another one another of these photo classics that includes our fans as the backdrop, will need to be commissioned at Wembley Stadium in May.
Having successfully negotiated what some saw as a potential banana skin at the Stadium of Light, our attention now turns to Craven Cottage on the weekend of Saturday 27 January for our fourth round tie.
Fulham are no pushovers but have a pair of tricky games before we meet them, a West London derby this Saturday against the once mighty Chelsea, before another high octane encounter with Liverpool in the Carabao Cup semi final, just three days before we are expected to meet in the FA Cup.
Thankfully, Fulham are still in the tie, having lost narrowly at Anfield last night and tiredness and fatigue could well be our friend for a change when we visit SW6 at the end of the month. Win that and we’re only another two victories from another trip to Wembley, hopefully the first of two this season.
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