Reborn at the Hawthorns

By Lee Ryder on Dec 2, 10 08:56 AM

Take your mind back to August 8 2009 on a pleasant summer day at the Hawthorns.

Newcastle United had been freshly relegated and the whole of Tyneside were up in arms at just where the much maligned Mags would be come the end of the season.

United's first game of the new season had been especially selected for BBC broadcast live to the nation with the public undressing of a once great football club about to unfold on the box to the blood thirsty non-Tyneside audience.

Or at least that was how many expected it to go the last time Newcastle travelled to the Hawthorns for a league clash.

I have to admit, I was pretty down in the dumps about the whole thing.

A caretaker manager, a team that had been stripped of several of the so called big names and a club up for sale with an owner who was keeping his counsel over any potential news.

To cap it all off Sir Bobby Robson had recently passed away and the mood was black on Tyneside.

On entry in the Press room, my stomach churned again - not at the sight of the chicken balti pies on offer - but looking over at Adrian Chiles and Frank Skinner looking all joyful and probably rubbing their hands at the prospect of our downfall.

Or at least that's how it felt.

Newcastle were also kitted out in a bright yellow kit that had attracted further negativity just when the club were already getting kicked while they were down.

After a plucky first half display, the script looked to be unfolding when former Darlington "ace" Shelton Martis put the Baggies ahead six minutes before the break, "get in there" cried a national journalist sat near me as a fist punched the balmy summer evening air in th Black Country.

To add insult to injury, Steve Harper had emerged from the goal looking like he'd been smashed in the face by Mike Tyson.

On came the reserve team keeper Tim Krul.

Newcastle battled on, and on, and on.

This wasn't on the script for some as Krul pulled off a couple of key saves.

And then came a breakthrough.

Ironically from the man who had effectively sent United down via an own goal at Villa Park.

But as Newcastle's Championship campaign became 55 minutes old, Damien Duff.

Yes Damien bloody Duff was the toast of the terraces in the away end as he equalised.

West Brom fans looked disgusted.

Some heads went down in the Press box.

Skinner and Chiles had lost their chirpy expressions.

Roberto Di Matteo suddenly didn't look so smug.

The Toon Army exploded in the Smethick End.

Oh yes, it was "get in", it was "get in" now all right.

Newcastle fought on like troupers and picked up a point against the Baggies.

For anybody who sometimes fails to understand the true meaning of how it is for away fans coming to games on a crap bus, visiting crap service stations, eating crap sandwiches and paying a fortune for the privilege, being held up in a layby when all you really want is a pre-match pint and being rained on for eight months a year - this was an example of why the Toon Army do it.

Yes, the emotion that day from the Toon faithful was significant because the message from the 11 players sent out to battle at the Hawthorns that day which was relayed back to the fans was simple: "We may have been relegated - but we're not going to be pushed around in this division by anybody."

That message was also loud and clear enough in front of the live TV audience to send out the same warning shot to the rest of the Championship sides.

There would be no easy scalps on offer this season when it came to Newcastle United.

Not this season folks.

That was the catalyst for a season that included no defeats at home and just four in the league on the road.

For many - as the song goes - it was the beginning of "the best trip" they've ever been on.

And while there are many things you'd like to forget about following Newcastle United - the incredible journey of the 2009/10 season in the Championship from West Brom to Doncaster and from Bristol City to Plymouth is something I certainly will never forget.

Remember, it all started at the Hawthorns.


spence said:

A fantastic rabble rousing blog Mr Ryder... reminding us that we still have many a score to settle. I salute you sir!

AdCodga said:

Lee, are we still on for a blog on Sunday, or has my world come to an end?

Lee Ryder Author Profile Pagesaid:

AdCodga, yes if the game is on there will be a live blog but there was for Chelsea too, usual links for the game will be restored.
Thanks for your support

Lew said:

Nice blog Lee.
I dont get to away games, but did manage every home game last season with my son. Great atmosphere up in the gods level 7 nw corner. Better than the previous two seasons in the gallowgate morgue! Hoots and the lads did us proud in the end, even tho some of the games were utter dross.
The away fans tho are just awesome and do us all proud. Always out singing/chanting the home team fans, win, lose or draw. Just a shame SJP has lost its atmosphere.

Mike Hunt said:

he had to go, the club needs a big name. Pardew got the West ham to a cup final.


Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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