Wolverhampton Wanderers (h) Premiership
38 mins: A neat finish from Lee Bowyer with a toe poke into the Leazes net, after Darren Ambrose had found Shola Ameobi down our right. He eluded Kennedy to dispatch a low cross, picking out the incoming and unmarked Bowyer six yards from goal. Bowyer's celebration took him over the advertising hoardings and into the embrace of the crowd - not as good as cartwheels but better than smoking fingers. 1-0
Half time: Newcastle 1 Wolves
Full time: Newcastle 1 Wolves 1
Sir Bobby said:
"I can't stop the reaction of the crowd. They are what they are. We thanked the ones who stayed behind.
"But I have to remind one or two people that this club has played 28 times in Europe over the last two seasons. A few seem to have forgotten that. The expectation here is so high."
"Five of our big players did not play. All five would have played and you have to remember that. My policy has not been to talk about the injuries but we've lost first-team regulars."
"We'll need to have resolve and commitment to qualify for the Champions League now. My message to everyone is to get your head up and your chin up.
"There are still two games to play. In football you always have a
chance and you have to believe that.
"We have to win two away matches, not easy, but we have to be ready for it and give it all we've got."
"We missed a penalty. The keeper chose the right way - I never crib about missed chances, we take them or we don't take them. We all depend on people taking chances - and I'm not talking about just the penalty.
"The keeper took a gamble and it paid off. He made a good save and then Alan, in the next five minutes, nearly atoned for it because he hit a dipping 25-yarder over the bar and hit a diagonal across the face of goal, which just screwed outside."
About Dyer and Bellamy's injuries:
"They can't go out full blast because the hamstring isn't quite repaired yet and we won't make a decision about those two until Thursday or Friday,"
"We've come away with a worthy point today.
"It's not the easiest place to come to. I
thought Paul Jones made some fantastic saves during the game and
I felt we kept our discipline.
Bowyer's first Newcastle goal in 23 appearances and his
first goal for anyone since he netted away at Middlesbrough for
Leeds in October 2002 - a 42 match barren spell that included
his mundane spell at West Ham.
That game was Middlesbrough at home back in October, when we'd beaten Breda away on the previous Wednesday. This season we played 14 European games (but two back to back that alters the stat slightly.)
Amazing, incredible, unbelievable.
But when the dust settles on this apparent show of petulance and emotions are checked back enough to allow for a modicum of perspective, then the reasons for this display of social disobedience have been plain to see for months. Since around 4pm on the first day of our season to be exact.
At that juncture, Newcastle fans were filing out of Elland Road after a 2-2 draw from a Sunday afternoon early kickoff, having just seen their side scrape a point from a game they should have won against a piecemeal Leeds side who even at that juncture looked to be in the proverbial - reminiscent of back in August 1988 when losing at Everton......
In our report of Leeds game, we finished by saying, "there's no real evidence of progression from last season at this admittedly very early stage" as well as saying of Bowyer that "this right wing role doesn't seem a good use of his talents." Two statements that have almost been repeated mantra-like ever since.
Can I just say straight away, before
keyboards are abused and poison pens picked up, that booing is not something
that we subscribe to. The arguments for doing it in certain circumstances
are beyond question, whether you choose to throw in the examples of anger
expression ranging from the suffragettes to Solidarity in Poland.
We didn't even have the Northumberland Senior Cup to hide behind this year - the only thing we've won was when Shearer's horse was first past the post....perhaps that should have been on the field, a nice bit of manure might have improved things....
No, something snapped collectively amongst
the crowd on Sunday when Wolves equalised. It had been almost eerily quiet
beforehand, aside from the celebration of the Bowyer goal, people too tense,
depressed or sullen to try and lift the team.
Then, apparent salvation. From the far end
of the ground there was mixed opinion over why we were awarded a spot kick,
but no doubt that the ball was on the spot and that the man placing it there
was en route to his 29th goal of the season.
Under those strained circumstances, the announcement from the "I was only obeying orders" PA man of a post-match tramp round the field just further stirred up the emotions of people who had seen enough.
Seen enough: bad play, boring games,
questionable tactics, unenjoyable wins, players not trying, fellow fans not
getting involved, people walking out, inaccurate newspaper articles,
patronising player interviews.
(Long gone from proceedings, television
footage later confirmed that Robert had taken part in the post-match
cortege, filming his own personal long march with a camcorder - maybe he
just wanted to gather evidence in case someone came out of what remained of the crowd and
smacked him one.)
And here on Sunday it all fell down. Would 50,000 fans cheering themselves hoarse at the end of this game have sent the team off in better shape to win those last two games? It would have been nice to find out, but I doubt it - things like that don't seem to matter to that lot on the field anymore, expect when tossing off bland platitudes in interviews. After all, it didn't work at Wembley did it?
Never mind that we were without certain players. We've been without Bellamy and Woodgate as much as we've seen them and the contributions of Jenas and Dyer overall this season could be recorded on the back of a Bacardi Breezer bottle top.
On Thursday and Sunday, we had a team on
the pitch composed of professional footballers acquired at great expense, cosseted,
well-remunerated and with the potential to be the focus of adulation for
decades to come. Just ask Bob Moncur.
Paying through the nose to sit (and stand)
through a mind-bogglingly mediocre campaign doesn't leave one well-disposed
to sympathising with the people appointed to carry your hopes and dreams,
who week after week do a good impression of rubbing your face in the muck.
And knowing that the rest of the league barring one team are utterly bloody
ordinary just makes it worse.
Thanks for trying Bobby, but it's defeated you, like all the rest. We've cheered you, we've supported you and now we just plain don't believe you anymore. And neither do the players. We got close, we've almost failed. Again.
We'll now trudge off to Hampshire and
Merseyside with whatever the opposite of hope in our hearts is. But not boo.