Sunday, 27 April 2008

Unbeaten and unbowed

West Ham 2 Toon 2

The unbeaten run continues. Yesterday was just the type of game three months ago that Newcastle would have given up on and lost by at least three and maybe four goals. Allardyce never seemed to have a plan B, so if we lost an early goal that was it... Beaten. Keegan has got a level of belief into the team, which means that if an early goal is conceded then its a case of rolling up metaphorical sleeves and getting back into the game.

Didn't see the game live - at thanks to MOTD they only showed a fleeting glimpse of the game - but pleased to see Oba back scoring as well as terrorising defences with his pace. The second goal should have been his as well. Beye just seems to get better and better with each game. His signing has been on of the highlights of the season.

Disappointment of the weekend was the mackems beating the Smoggies.. That now makes them safe from relegation for this season at least. Still, I suppose that will at least let us put right the wrong of this season and claim a full six points from them next year.

Next week the run may well come to a juddering halt - Chelsea at home. I've managed to get tickets (my first trip to SJP in two years) and I'm taking a very excitable nephew to his first ever Toon game live... Just hope its a good 'un.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

St Jordi's Day

Apparently today is St Jordi's day... So, to all of us Geordies, happy days to us - well it was after Sunday anyway. And I suspect that St Jordi may have been smiling on the Catalans as that's about the only explanation I can give for Ronaldo's penalty miss.

It must have been a slowish news day today - as it looks as though the end of season rumours are starting early...

Rumour 1

That notable Champions League Semi final goal scorer is on his way to us - nope not Dirk Kuyt, but John Arne Riise. Fresh from putting through his own net at Anfield, he's supposed to be our next left-back. Humm, we'll see. Whilst the Toon do need a decent left back - I'm not sure that Riise fits that description...

Rumour 2

Titus has been gobbing off, according to the BBC he's said...

"Former Newcastle defender Titus Bramble has criticised Newcastle fans, blaming the Magpies faithful for the sacking of manager Sam Allardyce. "The Newcastle fans aren't as good as everybody says," said the Wigan centre-back."

Well guess what Titus? You aren't as good a defender as everybody says either... Oh, hang on, no-one has said that you are a good defender for a long time..

Perhaps the poor lad has been confused - when the Liverpool fans chanted "Titus for England" it was irony... Do you think that Titus understands the concept of irony???

Monday, 21 April 2008


Toon 2 mackems 0

Ohhhh - that was sooooo good. The complete contentment that I felt on Sunday after the game more than made up for the anxiety that I felt on the preceding three days. The match was killed off after the first goal - EMO sneaking around the back of that mackem lump and smacking a header into the corner... So they managed to last out for a whole 3 1/2 minutes until succumbing - then it really was over. They huffed and puffed for a bit, but never really looked like scoring.

In fact the tone for the day was set after those four minutes, and the over-riding theme was... hilarity. I know that Sunderland are made up entirely of Manure Irish-U21 rejects... but where did they get Paul McShane from? To call him a professional footballer is a gross exaggeration, to call him a footballer is stretching the truth. He was the worst player that I've seen this season (and that includes both Barton and Jose Enrique at their awfulest... )

He had the tactical awareness of a tortoise, the speed of a overweight jelly fish (on land) and the attacking prowess of a stuffed goat. He missed tackle after tackle, was caught out of position numerous times and even managed to put through his own net. I think the referee only disallowed it out of pity... You know the way that you do with small children when they've made a simple mistake - for the umpteenth time.

The second goal had a comedy moment about it as well - the wonderfully named Danny Higginbottam (wonder which team he started out at? Yup, another Manure reject) fell at EMO's feet and the ball hit his hand. Quite funny in itself. But then Little Mickey scuffs the penalty, it squeaks under Gordon (hang-on, must be a mistake here; I can't track down any mention of Manure in his CV) and still ends up in the back of the net. Queue half time whistle, and general hilarity from all watching with me.

The second half was a non-event. mackems were poor and so where we... But it didn't matter - the points where safe, relegation is now mathematically impossible and the only decent ex-manure player on the pitch was in a black & white shirt. Nicky Butt take a bow, you ran most of the game and all of the midfield.

Ahhhhhh - it was a good day.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Derby Daze

Sunday.... 1.30pm..... On the telly...... Its gonna get ugly (insert your own obvious joke here) Its derby time. No, not having to face the worst team in the Premiership since....erm... the mackems - but actually having to face the mackems. The 139th Tyne/Wear derby. Looks so innocuous when its written down. But the passion, fervor, and general madness make it so important. So of the feeling is gloriously captured by the pre-match summary on

A victory for common sense would see us register our 51st success, while a stalemate would be the 46th such result.

43 travesties of justice have taken place so far, while we've bulged their net 208 times and been the victim of atrocious refereeing decisions etc. on 205 occasions.

I hate it when we play the great unwashed - their is simply too much riding on the result. Its wonderful if we win, but its so dismal if we loose. I can still recall the abject horror of the 2000 rain soaked suicide note from Guillt , with Rat Boy (aka Philips) and Disco Pants (aka Quinn) tightening the noose around his neck. Equally I have affectionate (if slightly fuzzy due to celebrating with far too much alcohol) memories of the 2-0 win in 2002 when Bellamy scored after 2 mins and we controlled the whole of the game until Shearer put the icing on the cake.

There always feels like there is too much at stake. I confess I've never been to a live derby game... Watched loads of poor ones on the telly, but I've never had the courage to go to one. Its not concern over any likely violence (although that would have been the case a decade or so ago) but its just that I care too much. I have PMT* for this game to the extreme... Dreadful beforehand and if we loose I'll feel like sticking my head in the oven afterwards (slight problem with that plan - electric oven)

Another thing that is a problem about the unwashed - I can no longer seek the comfort of the local hostelry to watch the game. Ever since that dog-loving ex- manure player became their manager, all the locals have 'adopted' them as their second team. So, I end up being unable to swear quite as vigorously at the TV as I'd like to without getting disapproving looks from the locals.

Still - I was there when he took a swing at Shearer and got sent off... Wonderful memories. So, roll on Sunday tea-time when it will all be over.

*PMT - Pre Match Tension

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Sunny Days

Portsmouth 0 Toon 0

This was one of those mildly disappointing games. Toon played wellish, had a level of confidence that a month ago was starkly lacking, the midfield was creative and largely dominant. But no real end threat - apart from EMO managing to find David James' barnet instead of the back of the net, it was fairly sterile. I was impressed with Geremi and Butt, who for different reasons contributed a tremendous amount to the team effort. Geremi looked an attacking threat whenever he picked up the ball (except for the 30 odd corners that he took, all of which managed not to get past the first man) and showed some of the finesse that he'd showed in the past in a Chelsea shirt. Butt, who harried, pestered and bossed the midfield showing what an asset he is in a black and white shirt, on his day.

Perhaps Keegan may consider this a couple of points dropped, but I doubt it. Portsmouth have had a decent season and are a difficult team to beat at Fratton Park. In November they absolutely hammered us at SJP, there was no sign of those dark days being repeated again today. A composed defence made so much difference, as did the desire to keep that unbeaten record going. A more than useful point gained.

Comedy moment of the day? It had to be the low sunlight that proved a problem for both keepers. Stevie Harper coped well, but the image of David James squeezing his afro under a baseball cap will raise a smirk with me for a while.

Finally, thanks to Man City - stealing a couple of extra points from the mackems has also made my weekend...

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Hat Tricks

Toon 3 Reading 0

Well I never.... On a day when I got the third horse in the Grand National (and win thirty quid), Toon score three goals, each of the front three get a goal, the Toon notch up their third win in a row - it all seemed as though it was destined to happen that way.

I watched the paltry highlights on MOTD, and had three (keeping up the theme for the day) thoughts :-
1. Beye is getting better with every game - he is becoming a classy attacking right back that we haven't seen since the days of Warren Barton. For a while he was in danger of becoming one of those players who's chant is better than he is*...but he is showing the type of form that could well see him become one of the most valuable defenders that we have.
2. David Edgar had the sort of game that he might want to forget - but then again Stephen Taylor had the debut from hell at Bolton a few years ago and he's not done so badly.
3. Keegan's masterstroke appears to have been using Martins, Owen and Viduka together - and its worked.

Ever since the start of the 2nd half against Birmingham the team has played with a freedom that was so sadly lacking under Allardyce - just the speed that the ball is being moved around is so much better than it was before Christmas. Long may it continue, its been a while since things have clicked on the pitch and it makes a very pleasant change.

I also must admit that thinking about Allardyce, a large part of me is really pleased to see his old team careering towards relegation. Bolton have been playing hideous football for years, unimaginative cloggers playing bullying tactics and getting results that way. Finally, they have been found out. After yesterday's 4-0 thrashing by Villa I reckon that should see them disappear down a division along with Derby and Fulham. Good.

* For the uninitiated - the song is to the tune of Happy Days "Monday, Tuesday, Habib Beye. Wednesday, Thursday, Habib Beye"... Well, it makes me laugh

Saturday, 5 April 2008


Its been a quiet week, no press inspired doom and gloom about players leaving, managers being sacked or even Dennis Wise going to the theatre. Obviously the Champions League has proved a distraction for the denizens of Fleet Street (or Wapping , or whatever stone they live under now) and they will be far too busy salivating over the latest Ronaldo step-over or the next Lampard strop to make up stories about the Northern oiks. So, the Toon have been left well alone as it now looks unlikely that we will be bothering the Championship clubs next season. And I must admit I've rather enjoyed the peace and quiet.

Its still an important game for us today, Reading are uncomfortably close to us and getting three wins in a row seemed as likely as three Championship clubs making the semi finals of the FA Cup only a month ago...

But the season isn't over yet - six games to go and one of the most important games of the year coming up on 20th April... Three points against the mackems would be a wonderful way of capping off an awful season.