“This is a f*****’ disgrace, I’m off me like, I’m not sitting through another 45 minutes of that shite!” One supporter screamed, while others simply just got up and left with their faces red and fists clenched.
The day was no different from any other match day, I still went through the same routine. Getting up early to go into town with the old man for a ‘spoons breakfast accompanied by an ale or two or three, wait a second, maybe it was four? We then staggered up the hill to the Strawberry. “Two N’castle Broon’s, please” and so it continued.
“Why do we do this to ourselves? We’re on for a hiding today aren’t we?” My father says, while getting every last drop of Broon out of the bottle. The mood around the city wasn’t a good one, Newcastle had sold Andy Carroll to Liverpool just a few short days before. “This bloody well helps when supporting the Toon though” I slurred while signalling for another bottle.
After the perfect amount of alcohol to numb the pain of watching Newcastle United had been consumed, we took to our seats in the Gallowgate, with no positive thoughts coming from either of us. No sooner had the game kicked off, Newcastle were 0-1 down. “For god sake man, have we even played a minute?” My father shouts, as Theo Walcott wheels away in celebration. It didn’t get any better from there either. “Who’s marking him? We’ve had it now!” I screamed, as Johan Djourou doubled Arsenal’s lead with a header inside the first five minutes.
Arsenal continued to run riot, 2-0 quickly became 3-0 and then it was 4 and they hadn’t even played 30 minutes. “Ah well, that’s a miracle isn’t it, we managed to get in at half time just the 4 down.” My father said sarcastically as Newcastle managed to go the final 20 minutes of the first half without conceding. We gathered on the concourse for some much needed refreshments. “Just order 4 pints, son, I think we’ll need it”. So there we were, two pints in our hands, shocked at what we had witnessed in the first half. Even by Newcastle’s standards it was beyond awful.
As we finished the last of our pints, we saw a few supporters run for their sanity - Not wanting to witness another 45 minutes. Little did they or we know what was to unfold in the second half. We took to our seats once again, wondering why we had even bothered to do so.
We watched through our beer soaked glasses as Abou Diaby saw red for grabbing and pushing Joey Barton’s neck. Suddenly there was a belief that the impossible could in fact be possible. It may well have been the alcohol talking but the belief was there all the same. “Come on lads, get your heads on this!” One man shouted from the row behind, as Barton prepared to take a corner. “That’s got to be a pen, got to be!” A sense of calm washed over the Gallowgate as Barton took a deep breath before..... “YEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSS! GET IN, COME ON!” It’s a funny thing, belief.
Newcastle looked a completely different side in the second half. Seven minutes after Barton slotted home from the spot, Leon Best cooly finished to make it 2-4, we couldn’t could we? fifteen minutes to play, anything is possible in football. “Well at least they’ve showed a bit of fight and a bit of spirit” my father says. “Oh, Jesus, he’s given it! Come on Joey lad, slot this home n’all!” There’s something so special about seeing that ball hit the back of the net. The release of pure emotion. “YEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSS! GET IN, COME ON!” Roared once more, this time it was so much louder.
My heart was beating out of my chest, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. My father grabbed my hand....”This is it bonny lad, this is it! This is why we do it!” He was giddy with excitement, nerves and shock. St James’ Park was rocking, to a man we cheered and we sang and we drove those eleven men forward.
Barton stood over the ball as prepared to take a free-kick. The tension, nerves and excitement were all too much to bare. Prayers of “Please, please, please” and “come on, come on, come on” were heard all around me. The ball cannoned off a defenders head “YAHHHHHHHHHHHHH, OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD, GET IN, COME ON!” As me and my father appeared from the sea of bodies, no longer in our own seats - Newcastle had done it, Cheick Tiote’s screamer levelled the game at 4-4. The celebrations on the pitch and in the stands were incredible.
“Two N’castle Broon’s please, pet” my father croaked. “I can’t believe it” I repeated to myself over and over again. My father’s words still ring in my ears now, “This is why we do it”. It’s for those special moments in the stands, witnessing your team pull off the impossible and achieve something truly special.