Remember when part 2 Hitchhiking to Glasgow
By singe
Thursday 06 Feb 2014 14:48:00
Browse all Andy Singe Thompson articles


The summer of 1993 and there was a monumental buzz around the Toon after May’s promotion party and our forthcoming season in the new fangled sparkling Premier League. Keegan magic was at its peak even after a collection of fairly tame and low key pre-season friendly games against Hartlepool United, Workington and Berwick Rangers. These unglamorous fixtures didn’t really spark the imagination even though we got our first sighting of new signings Nicky Papavasiliou, the exotic looking curly haired Cypriot, Alex Mathie, some unheard of Scottish bloke signed from Morton and of course, there was the returning football genius of Peter Beardsley after his 7 years spell on Merseyside with Liverpool and Everton.

Our penultimate warm up game of the summer had us invited north of the border to Glasgow to face Rangers in Ally McCoist’s testimonial game in early August.

This to me was the first game in the new era of football with all seater stadiums and the end of standing terraces. Redevelopment work since we last played at St James Park had finished with my new location for watching football being taken up in a grey plastic seat in the Leazes End. The ground from now on would be full of season ticket holders for some silly reason football grounds were suddenly to be referred to as football stadiums. Interest in Newcastle United even warranted all ticket pre-season friendly matches!

Rangers at the time were the champions of Scotland as well as qualifying for the Champion’s League. They had just travelled down to Joker Park for Gary Bennett’s testimonial match in vast numbers the previous week, there had been a few spots of bother around Sunderland and at the ground, where a few Mackem’s had been slashed. This still didn’t put us of from travelling north.

Fresh from passing his driving test, somehow Chuff had managed to borrow his dad’s clapped out Rover 216 and agreed to drive Jonesy, Bambi and myself up to the match. We set off in good time with the plan of finding a decent parking spot near to the ground and grabbing a few pints in delightful downtown Govan.

A major hiccup happened as the car broke down just past Riding Mill. Thankfully some Mag’s from Consett pulled over and took Chuff into Corbridge to find a pay phone (this of course was in an age where mobile phones just didn’t exist). Half an hour later Chuff was back having been forced to join the AA for some gigantic fee and somebody was dispatched to rescue us. The lads from Consett left us and made there own merry way up to the game, while we sat and waited and waited. Eventually a little yellow AA van pulled up and the mechanic informed us the clutch was fucked. I’m not overly technical with motor vehicle maintenance but this statement meant we weren’t going anywhere in this Rover 216. Chuff had to go back with the car getting towed by the little AA van but I came up with the bright suggestion of attempting to hitchhike our way to Glasgow. Thankfully Jonesy was game but Bambi was too scared and opted for the AA van back to Stanley.


We trudged up the side of the A68 walked around the roundabout onto the A69, past a stinky hippy hitchhiker with dreadlocks I told him we were going to walk all the way to Glasgow. He looked at us in bemusement. Within seconds a white transit van screeched to a halt on the hard shoulder, Jonesy and I climbed through the rear doors that were flung open. The hippy hitchhiker shook his dreadlocked head in frustration. The occupants of the tranny van were Newcastle fans from Dunston. It was a hire van that had recently been used by a builder that much was obvious as the inside was filthy and it wasn’t long before we were covered in cement and plaster dust. We were given a can of McEwans Lager each and asked for some petrol money for the trip. Luckily for us and for some unknown reason, Jonesy had Chuff’s and Bambi’s match ticket in his wallet, which the Dunston lads gladly exchanged for the ride. Just past the Scottish border the Dunston lads started smoking some herbal illicit cigarettes as Jonesy and I blagged a few more cans.

Happy days.

We made good time up the west of Scotland and stopped off in an unknown little village just off the M74 for some more liquid refreshments before heading to the game.

Inside the ‘stadium’ the overriding image for me was how magnificent it looked. It was so far removed from the horrid little grounds of Peterborough and Grimsby we had visited the year before.

It was Ally McCoist's Testimonial match although he was injured and took no part in the game other than walking out into the centre circle and waving at the crowd. Testimonials as a rule are usually bland and sterile, played out in a low key atmosphere. This game was the exception, a full bloodied match with the partisan passion of 42,623 including 4,000 pissed up noisy Geordies.
Newcastle lined up with Wright, Venison, Bracewell, Scott, Kilcline, Watson, Beardsley, Cole, Clark, Sellars, and Papavasiliou.

Nowadays friendly games are littered with substitutions sometimes entire sides changing at half time, which kills the game dead. Newcastle replaced Tommy Wright with Pav ‘the Geordie’ Srnicek at half time and young Alan Neilson on for Scott Sellars for the last 6 minutes of the game!

Half time was 0.0 with both sides coming close to scoring. Andy Cole (gets the ball and scores a goal) put us 1.0 up just after the restart. 5 minutes later former England striker Mark Hatley equalised and to this day I’ve still never heard a roar like it as the ground vibrated in celebration from the home fans. Pandemonium broke out in the away end as Scott Sellars went and won it, shooting home after Cole had knocked down Steve Watson's cross at the back post. The final whistle brought mutual respect from both sets of fans and a bit of scarf swapping with the Rangers fans housed above us. Apart from one of my new Dunston mates who refused to shake hands with the ‘Huns’ as he was a Catholic. Back to the dirty transit fan for more cans and funny cigarettes we headed back home.

Late into the night we were eventually dropped off at a Dunston Taxi rank only to find it shut. With nothing else to do we made the long 8.1 mile walk back up the hill to Stanley, safe in the knowledge we had nothing at all to fear from the journey into the flashy new world of Premier League football as we were ‘the greatest team the world has ever seen’


*Our final pre-season game was another testimonial at Liverpool where the returning Beardsley broke his cheekbone in a collision with lard arse Neil Ruddock‘s elbow.

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