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The first night in front of the "new" Gallowgate End

By Lee Ryder on Nov 6, 11 06:29 PM


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.

Let's be honest, if many of us had the choice, they would pay money to watch the team of 1994.

But statistics now show, the current team are on par in terms of games unbeaten and they could even go one better against Man City, albeit against all odds.

There may be no Peter Beardsley, Andy Cole, Rob Lee or even Phillipe Albert, but you could argue that Alan Pardew's achievement of starting the new campaign is BIGGER.

I say that because, unlike Keegan's Class Of 94, Pardew has had to do the job without being backed by mega money like the days of Sir John Hall.

Pardew has also had to win over the Geordie public, something that Keegan never had to do as he was already a hero when he arrived.

I'm not playing down the 1994 team, it was an awesome time to follow Newcastle, it was exciting and there was nothing really to fear because at that time, the Premiership was in its infancy and nobody really knew what was to come in terms of teams like Nottingham Forest, Manchester City and Leeds United spending big before sliding down the leagues - not least our own recent bitter experiences.

Back then people probably expected Newcastle to be up at the top of the Premier League.

Now, it is a pleasant surprise, almost a fairytale when you look at how things were just a few short weeks ago after a summer of woe.

For different reasons, I hope in years to come that people are still talking about this group of players.

Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba, Ryan Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini and Tim Krul to name but a few have emerged as new heroes.

It's been a dreamlike start to the season so far and long may it continue.

And after the current crop of players have worked so hard to level that record, it's great for them that people are paying them the respect they deserve for a great start to the season.

2 Comments

Geoff said:

Lee,

This has undoubtedly been a stunning start to the season and way beyond any reasonable expectations. Pardew has evidently worked tirelessly to introduce structure and solidity and it is paying dividends.

However, we must be realists. We are only 11 games in and it is a 38 game season. We are now experiencing our first glut of injuries and heading in to a tough run of games. This is where the true test begins and whilst I hope and pray that we replicate our form to date agsint City, United and Chelsea, it is way too early to be singing from the rooftops and waxing lyrical. Praise where it is due certainly and I join everyone else in doing that but as we have always been told, this is a long term project and should be judged as such.
Let's see where we are at the end of this season and then the next - those are reasonable and fair indicators of progress - not 11 games into a new season.

That said, it's brilliant to see where we are right now and top marks to everyone at the club, including Mr. Ashley.

Chris Gray said:

Geoff says “top marks to everyone … including Mr Ashley”. I never thought I’d see that kind of thing on this blog, Lee. Well said, Geoff, whoever you are. The daft Ashley-haters have all gone very quiet and I suspect some of them will be attempting a Private Fraser-like about turn – “I never doubted you for a minute Captain Mainwaring.” The truth is we are in a healthier state now than we have been for years and although the sheer magic of the 1993-1996 teams will never come back there is now a chance – no more than that – that any success we do get will be sustainable. The Keegan period was based on Keegan’s temperament and the Board’s tendency to spend money they didn’t always have – not exactly a firm foundation. Love him or hate him, Ashley is a business genius of a kind and that’s what football is now: a business. I am not very comfortable with that and I don’t suppose many are but it is a reality. Pardew is the right man, the strategy is right and the owner and his mate – ruthless, unsavoury and allegedly untruthful characters though they may be – are taking us in the right direction. And as you know, Lee, I am no Private Fraser – I have said this all along.

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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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