November 2011 Archives
There won't be a dry eye in the house when Newcastle United take on Chelsea at St James' Park when Newcastle United step out to take on Chelsea on Saturday lunchtime.
Thoughts will still be with Gary Speed on the day and no matter what ideas the club go with to remember the Welsh legend, the Geordie public's response on the day will be the greatest show of appreciation.
At Swansea the spontaneous mass round of applause summed up the feelings towards Speed in his home country before a rousing rendition of "There's only one Gary Speed."
And for certain, the "Gary, Gary, Gary Speed" chant will ring around St James' Park on Saturday when the Blues come to Toon.
It has been said many times before by ex-Newcastle players and managers that if the Magpies could produce a team as good as the Toon Army, they'd win everything in sight.
Alan Shearer said after the 1999 FA Cup final: "If we'd have been as good as the fans at Wembley - we'd have won 10-0."
However, Sir Alex Ferguson - who once reverted to under hand mind games in the 95/96 season as his side went head to head with Newcastle - sees things in his own unique way.
Astonishingly, rather than focus on the game ahead the Man United boss opted to hit out at the Tyneside media - and claimed Newcastle fans are "hard to please" in his pre-match programme notes.
I have to say when it comes to going to Eastlands, my greatest experience so far was seeing Oasis back in 2006 with Newcastle United yet to record a win at the City of Manchester Stadium.
There have been some painful experiences at Eastlands down the years.
The sight of Lee Clark and Scott Parker running into each other while chasing the same ball just hours before Graeme Souness was sacked, Joey Barton getting injured in another miserable defeat in the 2009, Joe Kinnear losing the plot in a Press conference and calling Charles N'Zogbia, Charles Insomina and of course Hatem Ben Arfa's chilling injury following a tackle with Nigel De Jong.
The news that Sammy Ameobi has agreed a new deal with Newcastle United can only be classed as one of the more positive pieces of reportage coming out of the four walls of St James' Park in recent days.
But for Sammy, it is rich reward for a player that has worked his socks off to become a firm favourite with Toon fans.
Don't forget it was only SIX months ago that Ameobi was strutting his stuff in the reserves against Blyth Spartans, only for him to go from strength to strength.
I hear that a local sculptor is currently in talks with both Newcastle City Council and Nexus to get an Alan Shearer statue in place on St James' Boulevard.
The life-size figure is understood to be crafted by Tom Maley, who is also working on a Jackie Milburn statue, and the dream is for the statues to be in place in time for when the Olympics come to St James' Park next summer.
To Geordies, Shearer will always be classed as a black and white god on Tyneside and as top scorer in the club's history, his efforts in a black and white shirt were second to none.
His 206 goals were merely the tip of the iceberg for me, and had more players during his 10 years at St James' Park got anywhere near his efforts then we would all have enjoyed more nights in the Champions League.
Attempting to change the name of St James' Park was always going to go down like a lead balloon on Tyneside, and inevitably the idea has been met with universal disapproval in the city.
Even the Newcastle City Council have got involved on this one with Henri Murison commenting: "While the council values its relationship with the club it has no plans to change any existing way-finding signs which bear the name St James' Park."
And from what we know the Metro station will also be staying as St James'.
It will also still be known as St James' Park on the pages of the Chronicle.
It was a balmy night in August, Newcastle United were 3-0 up against Coventry after 34 minutes through Rob Lee (then in his prime) and the brand new Gallowgate End stand chanted "Easy, easy, easy" with the pristine new plastic seats hardly even used in a first half in which the Sky Blues had been torn apart.
The rout of Coventry was game two of United's first of 11 games unbeaten in the top flight under Kevin Keegan.
It was 1994, there was no Strawberry Corner with the old Gallowgate bulldozed, people still used telephone boxes, most people only had four channels, talking about blogging would have made people think you meant an outside toilet and extended highlights were the blond streaks in Barry Venison's hair!
And and if you had honestly said then that the Magpies were going to win the Premier League title, then thousands of season ticket holders would probably have believed you!
Newcastle could not keep up the goal rush and the game ended 4-0, with Lee's brace and strikes from Andy Cole and Steve Watson (playing as a striker due to a facial injury for Peter Beardsley), polishing off Coventry.
It was a great time to be a Newcastle fan, but ultimately after making an unbeaten start, the next 14 matches would result in just two wins - all but ended hope of even putting together a title challenge.
Measured, cool, calm, confident and very much in the zone when it comes to managing Newcastle United.
That is my own personal assement of Alan Pardew and the job he has carried out at Newcastle United so far.
On Pardew's first day at the club's Benton base, the manager invited me to the training ground for lunch and was as cool and calm as he is now with the team flying high at the right end of the Premier League.
Pardew was polite and straight to the point, he knew he had a big task ahead of him but wasn't daunted - indeed just 2% of Chronicle readers wanted the ex-West Ham boss in charge back in December.