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My first match reader recollections VI

A further selection of your tales, these ones with photos:

Rolf Corneliusson:

August 31st 1974 Newcastle 2 West Ham 0

From one of our long-standing/suffering Swedish correspondents:

Tim Murphy:

April 9th 1977 Newcastle 0 Leicester City 0

I was born in Toon in 1964 but moved to Ireland in 1966. My father gave me football guidance when I showed signs of following Tottenham Hotspur because of the funny name.

I starting following Newcastle in January 1974 and my first match was against Hendon in FA Cup (at Vicarage Road).

The first visit to St James' Park was three years later. Me and my Dad sat in the West Stand and there was a huge buzz as Toon had come back from 0-2 down to draw with unwashed a day or two earlier.

It was a drab game, but long-remembered by one boy. The closest to a goal was when Aidan McCaffrey smacked a header off the crossbar from a Leazes End corner.



Noel Grundy:

January 19th 2019 Newcastle 3 Cardiff City 0

Stephen Broughton:

November 23rd 1996 Newcastle 1 Chelsea 1

I was 11 years old and a member of what used to be called the “Junior Magpies Club”. One of the perks of that £12 per year club was the chance of being randomly selected to be a mascot at an away game. Listening in on Mum’s phone call I was excited to hear that I was chosen to be mascot at Spurs. She said no, saying it was too far away, despite living in Kent at the time. She thought it was going to be a home game. After much pleading, she phoned back and I was allowed to be a mascot at the Chelsea game instead.

At that time, Alan Shearer was the most expensive footballer in the world, Kevin Keegan was manager and Newcastle United were the best they have ever been in my lifetime.

And here I was, knocking the ball about in the warm-up with Steve Watson (who complimented me on my “dummy” pass), Tino, Terry McDermott and David Ginola, among others. Pavel Srnicek very kindly allowed me to score past him.

The match itself wasn’t very notable in the grand scheme of things, but it was Gianfranco Zola’s home debut and he scored (dubiously claimed by and awarded to Vialli, I thought), whose stature was — shall we say — remarked upon in song form by the away crowd.

My heroes walked away with a point, Alan Shearer equalising to complete all the scoring in the first half. Mark Hughes contrived to get David Batty sent off and was roundly booed thereafter.

Although we didn’t win, leading the team out with Peter Beardsley was an enduring highlight of my childhood, though shaking hands with the opposing team’s captain transpired to be a regrettable part of that day…


Andrey Avramov:

September 16th 1999 CSKA Sofia 0 Newcastle 2

Living in Sofia, I couldn’t believe it when I heard on the radio that Newcastle were paired with CSKA in the UEFA Cup draw.

I was hoping all day for this (both Levski Sofia and CSKA Sofia were in the draw), but never believed it will happen.

I was in the “B” stand, behind the goal, where Solano and Ketsbaia scored, next to the Newcastle fans. The day before I waited 3 hours in front of the team hotel for a photo with a certain Bobby Robson.


Luke Sandle:

February 24th 2001 Newcastle 0 Manchester City 1

I attended my first NUFC match aged 10. To my disappointment, we lost courtesy of Shaun Goater's strike on the 61st minute (the timing is crucial as I will explain).

My uncle was doing business in Newcastle and got me, my Dad, and my Grandad seats. We sat one row above the journalists and were treated to hospitality before and after the game. (given what we now know about the legitimacy of my uncle’s business dealings, the less we know about how he acquired those tickets the better…)

Prior to kick off we sat in one of the hospitality rooms and enjoyed a three course meal. If I’d known the word ‘bourgeois’ back then that is certainly how I would have described the experience.

One of two highlights of that day, however, came just after we’d finished eating. Some bloke grabbed a microphone and announced to the room that we would be greeted by a couple of special guests.

Sir Bobby Robson and Gary Speed entered the room to rapturous applause. I was just about old enough to appreciate who they were — though too young to be paying enough attention to what they said! I was able, however, to meet them and get their signatures — and given the tragic circumstances of Gary’s passing to have met them both now means that much more.

The second highlight came after the match when we were back in the hospitality suite. Feeling pretty glum having driven 6 hours up from Coventry to witness a drab affair, I was reminded that I had entered a sweepstake along with the other patrons to guess the time of the first goal. Sure enough, out of the 100 or so in that room, I was the only one in the room to have chosen the 61st minute!

Imagine the surprise/awkwardness of the MC, when after calling ‘Luke Sandle’ he was forced to award a glass wine decanter to a 10 year old. It’s fair to say I was also rather disappointed with the prize…. But between winning that award and meeting some Toon legends earlier, it had been a memorable day.


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Page last updated 25 March, 2020