By Steve
Thursday 18 Oct 2012 14:36:00
Browse all Brian Hall articles


Aye. The Mags were lurking in two major cup competitions as that hectic season rumbled on. I will not spoil the ending, but all will know it never led to silver. But it was fun, or most of the time anyway, on that journey.


As the season kicked off into September, I was forced out of the region. To Liverpool. No. It was not to Walton Jail, but to the University in that city. Like some other Mags I knew at that time, locations for academic development were partly based on access to away matches. One of the few plusses about living down there was that it was far easier to travel to NUFC games than it was from the North East.


On the pitch, the league table was going quite well, and we all met up for " peaceful" days out at Stoke and Leeds, for example, following the cause. New Years Day was a good day out too, back home, when the lads hammered the Blue Scousers 5-0.

But two very big Cup shadows began to emerge, and distract the Mag Nation big-time.


 The autumn had seen us ambling our way through the  League Cup rounds, and by January,  it was to be joined by the Big Man, the FA Cup . A hectic grouping of matches meant any study was not on my agenda - not that it was anyway of course.


Shortly after my return to Liverpool after that New Year slaughter of Everton at SJP, I jumped on a train to London, and caught up with a group at White Hart Lane. For a League Cup semi-final. We lost 1-0, but the NUFC thousands were not too concerned - apart from Kev, that is, who had been caught by a set of Spurs fans in the wrong bogs. The pride of London's media, glorious, Super Tottenham from the Lane, had to make another journey. Back to Newcastle for the second leg! I naturally had travel up as well, and found myself in one of the best atmospheres I have ever encountered up here. The Gallowgate swayed, rocked, and bayed for blood, and we got it. 3-1. Job done.


No time to take breath though, as we all ended up in Coventry soon after, for the 4th round tie in the FA Cup. I was joined that day by Tim, a Southend fan, one of my mates at university, as he fancied a Mag away match. He managed to impress my mates from home, by trying to eat a raw onion spilling out from a veg shop near the ground, and then falling asleep against the barrier during the match. He had tried to keep up with the pre-match socialising!  When we woke him up, we informed our guest that we had just got the vital draw. And then, back to the North East for me during the week for the replay. Job done, again. 5-0.


Just time to turn around, and it was time to catch a train to Bolton for the 5th Round. After his previous experience, Tim somehow did not fancy a ticket, but my new girlfriend, Julie, did. She wanted to see just why my hobby, as she called it, seemed to dominate most of my thinking. She certainly got her answer. 17,000 Mags in town, and housed in the Kop End in the ground. Supermac's brilliant goal caused bedlam, and protection for the female American visitor from the never-ending terrace surges  was temporarily forgotten. The result. 3-3. But the result off the pitch was not great. I had to take Julie for a hospital check when we got back to Scouseland, and she was diagnosed with 2 very badly bruised ribs. She did appreciate my 24-hour care service, though. At least until I had to tell on the Tuesday night that I had to go to Newcastle for the replay on the Wednesday morning! We won. Job done again.


After an intervening away match - Liverpool, so it was obviously a home match for me - the following Saturday saw another train to London. To Wembley. The League Cup Final itself against Man City. The team did not disgrace us at all, and were only beaten by a bloody Dennis Tueart overhead kick. Given that he played for Sunderland when they won the FA Cup in 73, and did us that day in 76, you can safely say that he would exactly be a welcome guest at my door! So. Result. 1-2. Job not done.                                     


Still, there was always Derby away to look forward to. The quarter finals of the FA Cup. The other wheel came off though. Half our team went down with flu the day before the match. The result. I dont care to remember. Job not done, and great fun at work over.


Those frantic weeks had taken their toll on me, and no doubt upon so many others. To say I was gutted, would not quite express my mood for quite a time. The only solace and comfort was found in the arms of Julie , the American lass. She understood. She had been to Bolton away!                                       

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