My first experience of following Newcastle United around the country was at Stamford Bridge in the 1991-92 season. It was an evening kick off in the League Cup, I was 14 and scared sh*tless. Fans threw bottles at the bus, a pretty angry bloke in a long Mack labelled all us Geordies “maggots” and, of course, we lost the game too. Since that evening, Chelsea away has gotten progressively worse for me. Until last night.
In Papiss Cissé we have a striker who genuinely looks like he’ll score every time he plays. His 13 goals in 12 games (just 11 starts) make him the Premier League’s most prolific marksman in terms of goals per minutes on the pitch. His two last night were so ridiculous that there are no original words to describe them, believe me, I’ve looked. They were like comic strip goals. His second in particular had the bend and swerve only Melchester Rovers’ Roy Race could muster, which is ironic as the only keeper in history I can think of who could have stopped it is Fulchester Rovers’ Billy the Fish from Viz. Before presumably being bundled into the back of a van after the match and held to ransom.
In a season of surprising results – both home and away, Newcastle were worth the points too. I genuinely fear the worse when we go to places like Chelsea. My initial aim is always not to get battered. We could barely win at the place when they were rubbish, so it’s been doubly difficult since Abramovich stuck his oar in.
If you’re looking for a game to sum up our season though, last night was it. Hard working, attack minded, brave. Colocinni combined typically solid defensive work with the occasional Beckenbauer-esque sortie out from the back four, Tiote prowled around the midfield with shark-like menace (a proper p*ssed off one), whilst Ben Arfa linked up play with a jink and a drop of a shoulder. You watch and you believe that we can get a result.
Tiote prowled around the midfield with shark-like menace (a proper p*ssed off one)
Being a fan is all about belief. My 24 years supporting Newcastle have taught me, in the main, that when the game really means something in terms of becoming a successful club, as opposed to one that simply talks about big attendances, we choke. Cup finals, semi-finals, title deciders, recent history tells you that we usually come up short, whoever’s playing. I have to say – and it scares me writing this down – my mindset is starting to shift. Alan Pardew has me believing.
To be honest, I don’t think we’re going to finish fourth, I never really have done, and with two tough games against Manchester City and Everton remaining, there’s every chance we might not pick up another point. It would be a shame but would still have been an unbelievable season, Champions League or not.
There again, I didn’t expect to beat Chelsea 2-0 last night either, so what if we can win… what if? See that’s the thing about belief. It comes with dire consequences should things not turn out to plan. I just hope Pardew doesn’t end up breaking my heart like all the others.
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