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Season 2004-05
Aston Villa (h) Premiership


Date: Saturday 2nd April 2005, 3pm

Venue: St. James' Park



Newcastle United

Aston Villa

0 - 3



5 mins A throw-in down the right flank ended up with a cross into the box. There didn't seem much danger but Jermaine Jenas' attempted clearance fell straight to Angel who hit a half-volley past Shay Given into the far corner of the Gallowgate goal. 0-1

Half time:  Newcastle 0 Villa 1

73 mins Nicky Butt got caught badly in possession ten yards inside our half and barely bothered to chase back, leaving Vassell to run clean through on goal. He rounded Given and with only Steven Taylor on the line Vassell lifted the ball towards the corner which hit Taylor's arm.

The defender attempted in vain to make out the ball hit him in the ribs with a laughable piece of amateur dramatics. Barry stepped up and hit a powerful penalty to Shay's left, wrong-footing the 'keeper. 0-2

80 mins Vassell ran towards the goal and just before he entered the box Stephen Carr made contact with his shoulder. The Villa player tumbled and the ref pointed to the spot. Barry hit his penalty into Given's top left corner with the keeper diving right again.  0-3

Full time: Newcastle 0 Villa 3

We Said

After it had been "suggested" of them, the two pugilists faced the press after the game.

Lee Bowyer

"We would like to apologise to the fans, the chairman, the management staff, all the players, to everyone connected with Newcastle, my family and everybody who witnessed what happened today.

"We are sincerely sorry."

Kieron Dyer then added:

"We are team mates, we have disagreements but we should not be fighting in front of 50,000 people. We are deeply sorry.

Graeme Souness then said:

"It's a first for me. I've never witnessed that before. I have been told by Dyer that he did not throw any punches, he was on the receiving end.

"Bowyer was indefensible. He was guilty of throwing more than one punch and has to accept any punishment coming his way. I can envisage both of them playing again, but if it ever happened again that would be it for the pair of them, they've hurt the customers today.

"Anyone who sees those pictures will find it hard to understand how team mates act like that."

"I'm not condoning what they did in any way but the referee had a very disappointing game today and the frustration our players felt going down 3-0 has shown itself with someone wanting to go boxing."

"It's been a very traumatic day for everyone."

A seething Alan Shearer said in the Sun on Monday:

"Once again the good name of Newcastle United is being dragged through the dirt. 

"What happened was a disgrace, there is no defence for it and I made my feelings known in the dressing room.

"I'm very angry still and very frustrated by it all, especially when things had been going so well and the spirit within the camp has been so good over the last few months."

"Our dirty linen has been hung out for the country to witness yet again.

"It was my idea as soon as I got back into the dressing room to get the two players themselves to answer to the media." 

"I said 'You two had better get out there because neither me nor the gaffer are going to do your talking'. To be fair to them, they agreed because they knew they had to do it."

They Said

Aston Villa boss David O'Leary said:

About the punch-up:

"I have never seen anything like that, but that is all I am going to say about it. I do not wish it on Graeme Souness and I do not wish it on this football club.

"I have a great deal of respect for the people that are here and a great deal of respect for the fans. They are a fantastic bunch of people and that is all I am saying on that.

"Now we will talk about the game - my belief is that the best team won the game by a mile here today. We might have a disputed penalty at one end or a handball that was not or was, but let's not get kidded.

"I am delighted, from my own personal view, to shut a few of the plonkers up that criticise me or the club and the team.

"We have a basic squad - in that we've lost Martin Laursen, the two forwards in Darius Vassell and Juan Pablo Angel and Gavin McCann, who is still out.

"And we had three of those people back at Newcastle."

"It is lovely, on behalf of the players, to shut a few people up and I am delighted for them.

"It was the first time maybe this season for our limited, small squad that we have probably had our best team out, although I would have to include McCann in that."


Not a great way to bring up our 3000th top flight game.

First defeat in 12 matches (all competitions) and the first time we've lost by three clear goals since the visit of Fulham in November 2004.

Villa in Toon -  Premiership Years:

2004/05: Lost 0-3 No scorer
2003/04: Drew 1-1 Robert
2002/03: Drew 1-1 Solano
2001/02: Won 3-0 Bellamy 2, Shearer
2000/01: Won 3-1 Glass, Cort, og
2000/01: Drew 1-1 Solanao (FAC)
Lost 0-1
1998/99: Won 2-1 Shearer, Ketsbaia
Won 1-0 Beresford
1996/97: Won 4-3 Ferdinand 2, Shearer, Howey
1995/96: Won 1-0 Ferdinand
1994/95: Won 3-1 Venison, Beardsley 2
1993/94: Won 5-1 Bracewell, Beardsley 2, Cole, Sellars.

It was the first time that a Newcastle team has had three players dismissed in a game since April 1992 when lunatic referee, Brian Coddington dismissed Kevin Brock, Kevin Scott and Liam O'Brien at the Baseball Ground.

United lost 4-1 that day to Derby as relegation to Division Three became a real possibility. Terry McDermott was also banished from the dugout to make it a staggering four dismissals on the day.

We also recall Mirandinha and Gazza trading blows at St. James', in a 'friendly' against Monaco in February 1988.

And for those old enough to remember, it brought back memories of Charlton pair Mike Flanagan and Derek Hales who threw punches at each other in a FA Cup tie against Maidstone back in January 1979.

The two were dismissed in the 86th minute with the score at 1-1. Three days after the game Charlton sacked Hales and fined Flanagan £250 but retained Hales' contract, an action that was condemned by PFA Chairman Gordon Taylor.

Hales was later reinstated and fined two weeks wages while Flanagan left the club a month later.

Former Magpie David Batty was also involved in fisticuffs with Blackburn and England team mate Graeme Le Saux in a Champions League game against Spartak Moscow in 1995. Neither were spoken to by the referee but both were suspended by UEFA after the game.


He's probably avoiding the newspapers, but had Graeme Souness seen the story about the Tyneside holidaymakers stranded in Dubai, he'd probably have been jealous of their plight.

Having found inspiration amid apparent indifference among parts of his squad and supporters in the desert state earlier this year, the manager had returned to lead his side to eight straight victories.

Along the way we'd picked up momentum and positive headlines, as well as a place in the last four of the FA Cup and a UEFA quarter final spot.  

And the feelgood factor seemed to have extended to a second break out in the Emirates.

After that, Alan Shearer felt so upbeat about the future that he announced his intention to play on, amid soundbites from him in praise of the "fantastic spirit in the camp."

So come Friday, the usual pre-match press conference had became something of a jamboree - with the high priest of the PLC himself presiding over proceedings.  

In amongst all this, there was still a game to be played though, against a side that had inflicted the early season defeat that triggered the panic button and saw Bobby pushed overboard. 

Aston Villa were very much cast as the supporting attraction to Al's bash - turn up, garner polite applause for their Peruvian and abuse for their ex-mackems, lose and go home.

The reality of course was that O'Bleary turned up with his side and deservedly claimed three points against a listless and careless United side who were left reeling on the ropes by the end, as were 50,000 punch-drunk punters.

Their victory - and the shortcomings of our lot that contributed to our demise and raised massive question marks against the rest of our season - were soon forgotten though, as once again we paraded our inadequacies in public for the planet's amusement and derision.

But while Norman Mailer is probably penning a blow by blow account of the bout and a screenplay of is doubtless in preparation (may we suggest "When we were Pricks") we find ourselves with not much else to add to the "debate", except our continuing disgust at what went on in front of us. 

The only thing that ordinary, normal toon fans (ie those not dragging their knuckles around the ground waiting to be interviewed on Sky) seem to differ on is whether we have some bad apples in the black and white barrel - or the whole thing is rotten to the core.

Given what he was confronted with today, instead of waiting pitchside until the final whistle and then enduring the insincerities of the press conference, Souness could have forgiven if he'd emulated Kevin Keegan and zoomed off with Terry Mac, muttering about it not being like it was in the brochure.

Putting aside the red cards, the manager has also to reckon with:

Two men about toon (Kluivert and Babayaro), neither of whom could shake themselves sufficiently to play in this game as they continue their recovery from injuries that have defied medical science.

One alleged international (Butt) who moaned about his number of starts, saw Faye dropped and then proceeded to give a performance so woeful that he ought to have worn a sandwich board emblazoned with the words "I just don't want to be here". 

If Bowyer's actions were unprofessional, then Butt's inaction was no different - and both contributed directly to getting a team mate sent off,

Another so-called jewel in Sven's crown (Jenas), too clever to play in his allotted position, contributing nothing to the cause except confusion and demonstrating a need to spend his afternoons learning how to shoot properly - not forgetting to improve on his passing, tackling and heading. Turn off your MP3 player and go and beg Beardsley to show you the way. Please.

And although it's easy to, let's not forget a non-performance from a player (Robert) who was meant to be after a new contract, but dropped back into his old ways with alarming ease. Inspirational, mon derriere.

A pair of central defenders who both dropped ricks, but in the case of O'Brien seemed traumatised by what went on and had to be withdrawn to prevent further (harsh) punishment from the crowd, who were understandably frustrated but gave him both barrels, which just doesn't help anyone.

That said though, OB was wretched, even if he is a nice bloke - football isn't a nice game.

Of course that our two best performers on the day ended up knocking lumps out of each rather than the opposition is frustrating, but entirely in keeping with our self-destructive tendencies.      

We're all allowed an off day - and nothing went right in this one apart from the turnstile operator turning up. 

But instead of being allowed to put it down to experience and shrug it off, the ramifications of what went on today threaten to overshadow and undermine all the good work we've done this year.  

We've somehow managed to find yet another new way to f*ck things up again and turn something looking vaguely positive and promising into another disaster area.

How the guilty players, the innocent players and the fans react to all this is anyone's guess, but there's doing things the hard way, the very hard way and the Newcastle United way. And the paying public are entitled to ask why and not be treated like morons all the time.  

Returning to the non-footballing situation, we retain a vain hope that this is all just a desperate attempt at closing ranks and trying not to run aground before the end of the season - at which point these jerks will be jettisoned, along with the Taffy charver and the other freeloaders who alternate between ridiculing and humiliating us with their actions. 

And if that doesn't happen, then the credibility of Souness will be as tattered as the shirt Lee Bowyer was wearing as he left the field, hopefully never to be seen again. 



Page last updated 08 February, 2005