match report is brought to you by a
Roaster Bar. When
you're hot, you're hot.
(Click food for details)
Date: Wednesday 18th December 2001, 8.00pm.
Please note: Those lovely people
at the FA sent us yet another snotty letter (we're building up a fair
collection now) threatening us with legal proceedings for linking to MPEG
clips of the goals. Unfortunately, we have had to remove the links but we
spoke to the FA and they are happy for you to shut down your browser, open it again and type the
address. (How ridiculous is that...?)
We would like to fully acknowledge the
part played by PremiumTV and/or Newcastle United Football Club in keeping
the FA fully informed of possible copyright infringements on NUFC.com,
our gratitude knows no bounds. However, can we respectfully suggest that
their time would be better served by attending the
craphole laughingly called the official site, rather than hounding us....
Andy O'Brien, Alan Shearer and
Laurent Robert scored the goals that not only ended the London
hoodoo but that put us top of the Premiership.
It was a crazy night at Highbury
which had no hint of Geordie glory when a rampant Arsenal took the
lead on 20 minutes in a devastating opening half hour.
20 mins: Henry juggled the
ball and crossed to Pires who appeared to handle before the ball
was squared back to him to tap in from close range. 0-1
(An MPEG clip of the goal
may be available at this web address: http://macauslot.hkcix.com/video/1219/56k/1219_4a.mpeg)
But the game turned before
half-time when Ray Parlour was sent off for his second yellow card
as he challenged Shearer from behind. Al pleaded with referee
Graham Poll not to send Parlour off but just when it looked like
we were hanging on, a one-man advantage gave us a chance.
Half time: Arsenal
1 Newcastle 0
60 mins: The sort of goal we
simply never seem to score, a near post corner from LuaLua headed home by
a jubilant Andy O'Brien in front of the toon fans with the home
defence standing motionless. 1-1
Craig Bellamy was then red
carded after catching Ashley Cole in the face as he was turning.
Bellamy was given a straight red despite an earlier yellow card.
TV replays later showed contact to be accidental.
86 mins: Shearer calmly
dispatched his penalty past Taylor with Arsenal still grumbling about a
dubious spot kick award resulting from the legal-looking challenge of
Campbell on Robert. 2-1
90 mins: A LuaLua pass let
in a galloping Robert who cracked the ball in for the third and
confirmed our ascendancy to the summit of the Premiership. 3-1
That goal meant that we climbed
above Liverpool on goals scored to lead the Premiership and
United's fans celebrated by taunting the locals with "We'll
never win in London". Thierry Henry remonstrated with
Poll all the way to the tunnel as numerous peacemakers, Shearer
being one, failed to calm the Frenchman down who now faces
Full time: Arsenal 1 Newcastle 3
"It's an amazing feeling,
we've done it, we've won in London and we've gone top of the league."
"He (Poll) played
his part, but games and even titles are decided on decisions like that and
always have been.
here (at Highbury) do not seem to be able to cope with losing, but
you have to cope with losing. I've had to cope with it and my players have
had to cope without winning in London for 30 games. I thought Arsenal were
mesmeric in the first half and there was a gulf in class between the two
Parlour will regret chasing Alan back and lunging at him as the game
changed then and we came back into it.
"I told my
players not to do anything stupid to get booked at half-time and then
Bellamy gets sent off. He is absolutely distraught in the dressing room,
he swears he did not know the defender was there and we will take a look
at it before deciding whether to appeal."
Alan Shearer, asked if Newcastle could
win the league:
An overjoyed Andy O'Brien told the Chronicle:
"I know my goal
against Sunderland which gave us a draw in last season's derby match at
the Stadium of Light was a big one.
me, this one was even bigger and it made up in no small way for those
couple of misses in the Worthington Cup at Chelsea last week.
"To tell the
truth I couldn't really miss this one as Lomana Lua Lua got a great ball
to me from his corner kick at the near post
"They tell me
Nicos Dabizas has been getting into this position for three years and not
scoring and he was cheesed off when I did. But really if anyone is as
delighted as me to get the equaliser it was Nicos.
"I didn't used
to go for corners when I was at Bradford because I was the one who was
told to stay back so I have not had that many chances to score in my
career and this one is rather special."
Arsenal and Henry were superb in the first half. He's tall and strong and
he has got so much pace and I've got to say he was a real handful."
difficult to beat 10 men but we made the extra man count. The
substitutions changed the game in our favour because it gave us some added
pace up front.Throughout my career all I have ever wanted to do is to get
40 points at Bradford City to avoid relegation.
"Now I'm with a
team which is top of the Premiership and it is absolutely brilliant!"
Arsene Wenger said:
"I'm not here for people to
conduct a trial of Thierry Henry. And I've made up my mind not to talk
about the referee. Every word I would say would not be very nice."
Wenger, who saw Parlour given the 39th
red card of the manager's five-year Highbury reign, added: "I cannot
believe we lost like that. There was a mage (sorcerer) at work out there.
"My players were frustrated and I
can understand that, but why do you want to speak about what happened
after the game? You should just say what happened in it. If Thierry Henry
is charged with anything I will stand up for him
Graham Poll defended
"It was a fair challenge
initially on Shearer, but then the second one for me - and I am only five
yards at maximum away from it - he has slid in and taken the player
instead of the ball.
"Thats a mandatory yellow card
and therefore it is one yellow and then a red."
"I felt that Bellamy, from where
I was, deliberately slung his arm back and stopped the opponent and that
is violent conduct - a straight red card."
When asked about the decision to award
Newcastle a penalty, Mr Poll said:
"I see things once. I have not
had the benefit of a replay," he added.
"From where I was, I saw Sol
Campbell make a genuine attempt to play the ball, but for me he clipped
Robert from behind."
Of an incident involving Thierry Henry
after the game had finished, Mr Poll commented:
"We had a very unseemly incident
as we came off the field of play, which I have reported to the Football
"I thought it was a very, very
difficult game to referee. I didnt think the attitude of the players
helped me a great deal and I felt that I did what I had to.
"When you see things, you have to
act on them and thats what I did.
"I am not here to cast judgment
on myself or players. I do my best to get the decisions right."
30 games of hurt, never stopped
believing, to misquote the Lightning Seeds - as the world and his
goldfish know, we've ended our run of 29 winless games in London
stretching back to 1997.
Al's penalty was his 1st away goal against the Arsenal for Newcastle and
only his 3rd in London for us - Chelsea (a) in Nov 1996, Wimbledon (a) in
Apr 1999. Of the current top league teams, only West Ham and Fulham have
kept him out at home or away...so far (if you include an FA Cup strike against Charlton).
Nobby Solano celebrated his century of league starts for
Two consecutive games that we've turned round a half-time single goal deficit
into a victory, meaning that all the goals in the game were again scored
in the same end. This was also the 7th time that we've scored 3
goals in one half this season (including the Worthington Cup Bellamy
treble in one half of extra time against Brentford).
Now a fantastic 5 away wins and 2 draws in the Premiership
from 9 attempts, which compares well to our recent
1993/94: 31 points from 21 matches (9 wins, 4 draws, 8
1994/95: 24 points from 21 matches (6 wins, 6 draws, 9
1995/96: 26 points from 19 matches (7 wins, 5 draws, 7
1996/97: 26 points from 19 matches (6 wins, 8 draws, 5
1997/98: 15 points from 19 matches (3 wins, 6 draws, 10
1998/99: 19 points from 19 matches (4 wins, 7 draws, 8
1999/00: 17 points from 19 matches (4 wins, 5 draws, 10
2000/01: 17 points from 19 matches (4 wins, 5 draws, 10
2001/02: 17 points from 9 matches (5 wins, 2 draws, 2
*** current season - in progress.
A quick reckoning up makes our Premiership away record:
P=165 W=48 D=48 L=69
With away games at Leeds, Man U, Leicester, Spurs, the mackems, Liverpool,
Blackburn, Villa, Derby and Southampton still to come.
Now just the hoodoos of: cup finals, the
mackems at home and Man U / Southampton away to sort out....
Farewell to four years of inquests, drink-fuelled argument and oblivion,
long contemplative journeys home and that empty feeling in the pit of the
Regardless of ones' persuasion and loyalty to the cause, a watcher from
another world, never mind another club would no doubt have concluded that
something very special had gone on in the vicinity of the South end of
Highbury Stadium last night.
The expressions of sheer relief and outpourings of emotion that greeted
the final whistle were probably something close to the sort of scenes that
would accompany the presentation of some silverware (not that we'd know
much about that...)
Of course there were numerous interlopers on hand, some filling in for
regulars corralled into festive obligations and others dragged into
Highbury simply because they'd been at Palace in '97. That they were as
enraptured by the events on and off the field as the terminally afflicted
among us speaks volumes for the colossal hold that our club has on people.
Did Premier Passions awaken a deep love of the mackems in Surrey? I
While we may have been christened "the entertainers" and enjoyed
cult status as the favourite "other" team of the nation in the
90's, by 2001 we seemed more to be recipients of the sympathy "teddy
bear with one arm" type vote. Non-believers have empathised and in
many cases suffered with us, as on visit after visit we've had the
proverbial kick in the Douggie Hall's from one end of the metropolis to
Thankfully it's now at an end, at least until we lose at Spurs next month,
As that scrawny legal lassie Allie McBeal would no doubt say, like the
coal industry we've achieved closure. For that much thanks, but now we've
knocked the cockney monkey off our back, where does it leave
At the halfway stage in this season, we can perhaps dare to suggest that
this win in London moved us up a level - regardless of whether we went top
or not. Most other things have gone our way with the exception of the
Fulham and West Ham disasters, so for once we'll adopt the glass half
full mentality. We really should prosper from the kick this gives fans
and players alike.
It's easy to get as carried away by events as the press, and forget that
some stinking games lie ahead of us, but nobody said this would ever be
easy. The football purist would purr with delight at some of the first
half play from the Gunners in this match , while the statto's will no
doubt have fawned over the awesome shots for advantage that the home side
Bottom line is though that like Leeds last weekend against the ragamuffins
of Leicester, showboating has it's price. Just as O'Leary's boys threaten
to be blown off course by self-inflicted off-field misadventures, so
Manchester United show heartening signs of unravelling in Fergie's final
Then when acknowledged feet-of-clay
merchants Chelsea and Liverpool go all wobbly, and Arsenal trudge off
their own field with a variety of hang-dog and mad-dog expressions having
got nowt for their interpretation of the beautiful game against us, you
know anything can happen (and already has in a variety of cases.)
Bobby Robson is right to set no targets, as like us he just doesn't know
what this team are capable of and this league for once is utterly
unpredictable. It's arguable that he's never yet started a game with his
preferred XI, but for once it's heartening to see a Newcastle side who can
incorporate different talents into it on a match-by-match basis.
That we have players who can reposition themselves on demand also helps,
with Bernard useful down the whole of the left and LuaLua the threat many
thought he would be from the wing. The over-riding word to sum up our team
though is still potential. Whether that will be realised will only start
to become apparent over the coming months. One or two crucial injuries and
all hopes and dreams could crumble. Put Barton, Quinn or Bassedas into
this team and it's thank you and au revoir to table-climbing.
Looking further into the season, it would be a brave man to suggest that
being toppled by Palace in the FA Cup would be a stroke of fortune, but
after the trials and tribulations of recent years, I can't say i'd be
overly bothered by missing out on a traffic jam across half of South Wales
come May. No doubt the ailing funds of Newcastle City Council would also
benefit from another year when forced reconstruction of parts of the city
centre wasn't a drain on the civic purse.....
While other clubs at our end of the table have commitments in Europe and
domestically, we could find ourselves unencumbered by those sideshows
(what would you rather have had, an Arsenal victory for top spot or a win
at Chelsea for a two-legged League Cup semi ?) Within these very pages in
pre-season we ventured the opinion that an adequate team could flourish
given a chronologically-favourable set of fixtures.
So far that adequate team is us, as we've matched teams for graft more
often than skill, relied on little nuggets of good fortune and crucially
been able to call on a keeper consistently doing his job in a team where
goal scoring is a habit not a rarity. After a sticky set of new year
matches, we have what looks at this stage an eminently winnable final
clutch of fixtures to end the season with. No cup distractions would
certainly help us to maximise our points tally.
However, If by the time we go to
Southampton we're scrabbling around with the likes of Peytar's rabble for
an intertoto cup place, something will have gone spectacularly and perhaps
terminally wrong. All our good work so far will be undone if we're not to
add consistency to our package of attributes.
Winning at Highbury should mean that a buoyant team can play without fear
and as Robson says, play a major role in the chase for the league crown
and the Euro-money printing licences. To slip back to the mind-numbing
averageness of previous seasons would be catastrophic.
Quite simply, if we don't continue to move forward, we don't stay where we
are, we go backwards. The bottomless pit of money is no more at this club
and to a certain extent we now go with what we've got and Robson stands or
falls by this squad and their young academy pretenders.
Elland Road this ain't.
Nights like these (and victories like the 4:3 one over Man Utd) are to be
enjoyed, but not as one-offs with no more long-term significance than the
infamous victory over us by Hereford had in their history. Unless they
form the basis for advancement on the field, they're nowt more than
Putting aside logic and theorising though...
We did it, we finally did it
I felt like the football fan out of Ripping Yarns as I marched down
the Holloway Road. 3-1, 3 bloody 1. Marvellous. Thank
PS - is there really anything better than reading and listening to those
media apologists and biased blather merchants bellyaching about those
northern monkeys who came down to the big city and robbed their treasures?
That we were abetted by one of their own from the republic of
Hertfordshire only adds further delicious depth to their deranged
The funniest thing is that the very people who their propaganda is aimed
at are in reality now a mix of nationalities, regions and cultures. For
every man on the "Clapham omnibus" with his geezer/ boozer
mentality there's another on the tube who knows what the toon is like, has
geordie mates and is capable of seeing through the one-dimensional
rantings of allegedly professional journalists who really should know
better. Urban life has moved on, people travel and it's the minority who
still think we live in caves. However for many in cockney media land it's
still When the Boat comes in, whippets and wifebeating.
Four long years we've waited to shut these pricks up - so savour it while
you may. Anyone remotely familiar with the workings of Newcastle United
knows that tragedy and misfortune lies but a footstep away....
For Alex. RIP.
Back to Main