From Bob Moncur in Budapest to Tim Krul in Palermo - the Toon are back in Europe

By Lee Ryder on Apr 26, 12 09:43 PM

After six years, European football will make a welcome return to Tyneside and the Toon Army will make a welcome return to the continent.

We're yet to see if it will be via the Europa League or the Champions League, but hey it's back and Geordie fans are ready to make the most of it.

After all no matter what happens now - this is more than most fans bargained for at the start of the campaign.

Even if Newcastle were to miss out on the Champions League now with four games to go, and even if Chelsea were the ones to deny them by winning the whole damn thing - the fact that United will have their name on a ball in Nyon at the UEFA HQ is progress to say the least.

Who would have thought that on the night of May 19, it could yet be Bayern blinking Munich who fire the Toon back to Europe's top table?

It's more than just a wild dream, it's well beyond that.

But then so is the Europa League in many ways.

For the new generation they will get to see their side play on foreign shores, for the more experienced Geordies it brings back fond memories.

With 120 games played in Europe, Newcastle's record in continental competition is one to be proud of.

Whether it has been watching Bob Moncur lift the Fairs Cup in Budapest, being there the night that Rob Lee scored a hat-trick of headers in Antwerp, seeing John Beresford get credited with two whopping deflections to scrape a draw in Kiev or watching Nobby Solano weave through the 1860 Munich defence in the Olympic Stadium.

Or whether it was going mental after Shola scored in the Nou Camp or losing the plot when Craig Bellamy hit the jackpot in Rotterdam, or seeing Tim Krul keep out Palermo in Sicily with save after save, they are memories to treasure.

My first memories of Europe are the anticipation on Barrack Road as the buses pulled up to head for Metz in 1996.

At a cost of £89 Toon fans travelled through the night to northern France to see Newcastle run out at Stade Saint-Symphorien.

It was all about the journey, it was all about the atmosphere on the ferry as bemused onlookers watched Newcastle fans more or less take over the place.

Then on into Metz itself as Geordie fans mixed with locals before watching a 1-1 draw that saw Peter Beardsley net a penalty to keep the tie alive for Kevin Keegan's side.

It was the start of a love affair with watching Newcastle in Europe.

Years later in a different capacity, the chance to travel to UEFA Cup games with the legend that is Bob Moncur provided memories that will never be forgotten with games like Palermo, Frankfurt, Zulte-Waregem and finally AZ Alkmaar extending that impressive tally of fixtures abroad for the Magpies.

This week Nobby Solano spoke of his regret of losing in Alkmaar and how United have never been back since.

Until now that is.

What awaits for Newcastle fans young and old are more treks to the weird and wonderful sights of Europe.

Happy travelling lads and lasses.

The Toon are back in Europe.


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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