It is Christmas morning in NUFC Twitter world and all is calm, all is bright. Just five more sleeps 'til Ladies Night. The Sir John Halls have been decked with boughs of Tory and The Shepherds count their cash by night. It's been a bleak midwinter for Sports Direct FC but we romantically reminisce about walking in a Keegan Wonderland.
In the Gallowgate Shots house, the team sits among a pile of empty Red Stripe cans, as new LED ring lights from Kris Kringle are unwrapped to an infinite backdrop of hanging retro shirts. Each newly-flawless complexion perfects its Blue Steel gaze into its own soul, while Matty and Emil have a coif-off in the corner. Hair today, gone tomorrow, lads. Trust me.
Meanwhile, in Cowpen, Rich Oliver emerges from behind the sofa after an all-nighter of Ryder and Ritchie script writing. The vodka bottles on the floor jingle as he rises to wipe the leftover Chinese from his baggy Alan Kennedy top. "Has this run its course?", he asks his phone, seemingly fused to his shaky hand. "What was that? Eh? You're not really here? What do you mean, you're not real? I've made dinner for the whole squad! Hello? Lads?!"
Over in YouTube Town, the ironic #BeKind and #ThinkBeforeYouTweet movements awake in shock at living rooms devoid of gifts, as they realise that they were on the naughty list all along. Santa sees beyond hashtags, lads and lasses. A closer look reveals a solitary gift at the base of the tree - a mirror, with a tag attached, reading simply, 'Reflect'. A thousand tweets are instantly sent into their echo chamber, branding Santa a 'trawl'.
Meanwhile, in the Shields Gazette gazebo, the staff are getting hungry as Liam insists that the takeover turkey is 'almost cooked'. "My cranberry sauces have always been reliable!", he cries. Not Cranberry Sauces, Liam! "Well, I never actually said the turkey would be cooked!!", he declares. How's the zebras, did ye say?
A similar story unfolds in the De Marco household, as jolly old St. Nick delays the family dinner while he arranges the sprouts in a 4-2-3-1 and sprinkles bacon on top. 'Riddle me this, Geordies!', he chuckles to himself as he necks his fourth Brown Ale of the day before tweeting a, 'Bird (and Bird) getting cooked!' cryptic message.
In the Edwards chateau, Luke emerges from his wine cellar, lips dyed purple from his midnight Malbec, to find a mysterious gift under the tree. 'Dear Luke, Merry Christmas! Love, Henry xx', reads the tag. Just as the warm glow of justification courses through his veins, he tears open the wrapping paper to find that his wife has simply bought him a Henry hoover, seemingly unaware of the trauma the very name would trigger in her husband. "I'm going to Steve's! At least he understands me!", he cries, grabbing a crate of Pinot Noir on his way out the door.
Over at the NE1's Game cottage, Graeme is busy hanging his death threats from the tree as John describes a play-by-play account of a Newcastle match from 1999 - although nobody asked him to. Andy closes the laptop, having once again successfully juggled his network of fake accounts, and Jess finishes the latest episode of Emmerdale before getting back in the kitchen.
The previous night, Amanda Staveley arrived in Newcastle bringing gold, frankincense and Mehrdad from her travels to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Tired from her journey, she found herself on Newbridge Street but, sadly, there was no room at the Premier Inn. The innkeeper cried, "Top Six floors are full, pet! No room here!" Rejected and desolate, she wandered off through the city. "This is Tottenham and Liverpool's fault!", she screamed into the cold night air before calling a long lost friend from her phone. "Stevie, babes, it's Mandy. Mandy, yeah, from the Liverpool game. Listen, can I crash at your place tonight? What do you mean, Kate Stewart has already bagsied the spare room? This is about me speaking to the NUST, isn't it? Steve? Hello? Hello?!" She was never to be seen again.
After finishing off the pigs in blankets and having a nap on the sofa with Luke, Steve Bruce gives his after-dinner team talk via Zoom for the Manchester City game, the following day. "Well, I've knackered Callum the other night, playing him for the full match on a rugby pitch just to get knocked out anyway. So, Andy, big Andy, won't you guide my play tomorrow night?" Oh how the players mocked him, as they shouted, drunk on peeve, "Brucey, you're canny as owt mate but we'll go down if you don't leave!"
Over in Mike Ashley's mansion, exhausted after a disturbing night of visits from the three ghosts of Christmas, he awakes sobbing and pledging to change his ways. He instantly makes a large donation to the transfer kitty he rejected the previous day and anonymously sends a large pre-cooked turkey to the Shields Gazette for their Christmas dinner, inadvertently proving Liam right all along. The following day, he gives Sports Direct staff an increase in pay and vows never again to vomit in the local pub's fireplace. From then on, Ashley treats everyone with kindness, generosity and compassion, embodying the spirit of Christmas as carols ring out over the city:
On the twelfth day of Christmas
Ashley gave to NUFC
12 direct debits
11 average seasons
10 thousand free tickets
9 Bar, not Shearer's
8 years for Pardew
7 figures for Keegan
6 in a row for the mackems
5 goals by Leeds
4'ck all trophies
3 top tens
And a takeover fantasy!
Merry Christmas, everyone.