The first time I knew about Newcastle United and started supporting them was in late 1949, and I was aware of Newcastle winning the FA Cup three times in five years in 1951, 1952 and 1955 and I watched us hammer Manchester City 3-1 in 1955 on TV – a new thing in those days.
Nobby Solano – while at Newcastle
Since we didn’t get electricity installed in our home until 1959, I watched that game at a friend’s house in Walker, and of course a certain Jackie Milburn scored after just one minute in that game, and my Dad and Mom were both at the game that day at Wembley.
For the statisticians reading this, Jackie scored after 45 seconds and that was the quickest goal ever scored at Wembley – until 1997 – when a certain Roberto di Matteo scored after 42 seconds in their 2-0 win over Middlesbrough – and Chelsea were managed by a certain Ruud Gullit, who became the first foreign manager to win the FA Cup.
Former Newcastle player Louis Saha of Manchester United now holds the record at just 25 seconds, which he set four years ago.
My Dad followed Newcastle home and away throughout the 1950s and maybe that’s why i am a big admirer of our traveling fans these days.
So I was very quickly indoctrinated into supporting Newcastle United – born and bred in St. Anthony’s Estate with a father who was mad keen on Newcastle – and I followed suit, and even joined the club as a 15 year-old schoolboy in 1960.
I mention this because I can remember it (not always the case with other things these days), and in case some readers don’t realize Newcastle’s great tradition in the FA Cup.
And Nobby Solano has come out today and talked to the Evening Chronicle from South America, afetr he watched the game live there, and wondered why the manager didn’t play a stronger side.
This is what Nobby said today:
“When you know you aren’t going to get a top-five finish in the Premier League then you HAVE to go for it in the FA Cup.” “I can’t understand why they haven’t.” “I know that there are injuries but Newcastle weren’t at full strength against Brighton.”
“Man United, Arsenal and Chelsea can get away with playing kids and resting players because their kids are on a different level.” “But it’s not like Newcastle are saving players’ legs for a challenge for the Champions League.” “The FA Cup was the best route to success.”
“It gets you back into Europe and that was important because they won’t be going back there via the Premier League.” “I feel sorry for the supporters. You always have to go for it in the cup.” “In my first season we did it with Ruud Gullit and the city was buzzing all the way through to the final.”
“The city loves a cup run, it gets everybody excited and it helps you win league games too.” “It is a nice distraction and you are better off being in it, even with extra games.” “We also came close with Bobby Robson in charge, he was desperate to win it for the fans.”
“We took 35,000 Geordies to Wembley for a semi-final and they took over.” “You just pray one day that might happen again.” “Newcastle haven’t won anything for many years, I can’t understand why they didn’t play a stronger side.”
“But at the moment Newcastle aren’t playing as a team. They are doing their own thing.” “They are taking too many touches on the ball.” “The strikers aren’t getting any quality service from the wingers and they don’t look compact in defense. They must start playing as a team – not individuals.”
The FA Cup would have given us a chance of winning something this season – even though the chance was small – but as soon as we saw the team sheet we knew that the Premier League was on Alan’s mind – and did he really think that team could win the game against an improved Brighton side, that had beaten us 1-0 last year?
It’s hard to think he did.
But you are dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t – when things are not going well – and if Alan had played some top players and they had been injured – criticism against him would be about that this morning.
You can also reach Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org