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We arrive at the final part of our journey. A short story has a quick ending, but will it be a good one? With two semi finals to look forward to against Liverpool and Monaco respectively and a top 6 place to secure, Newcastle have a surprising amount of things to play for at the business end of the season. Big Al is back and in the goals and the injury crisis is easing, so the days of fielding Brian Pinas are mostly behind us. With that, let’s get back to it.
Monaco will be a tough opponent but first we’ve got to play the Monaco of the midlands, as everybody calls them. After the indignity of conceding to Gary Breen we briefly level things up…but former Mag Darren Huckerby scores twice and that’s the ideal preparation.
Off to the rather more glamorous surrounds of Monaco then as we go looking for revenge for our UEFA Cup exit last season. Monaco are really quite good. Ludovic Giuly gives them an early lead before he and Shearer swap goals. If it finishes 2-1 I’ll be happy, but Giuly completes his hat-trick 17 minutes from time and I’m not sure we’ll come back from that.
Pick yourselves up lads, we’re off to Old Trafford. Not to face Man Utd, for once, but instead it’s the neutral venue for Liverpool in the FA Cup semi final. I can’t imagine Old Trafford ever being a neutral venue for Liverpool but whatever. Robbie Fowler breaks Shay Given’s jaw in the first 5 minutes but Shaka comes on and is surprisingly competent, whilst Shearer is unplayable. A hat-trick later and a Keith Gillespie goal means we run out 4-0 winners. We’re going to Wembley!
The fixture list is taking the mick a bit. Easter weekend sees us travel to Highbury for our annual thrashing.
Shay’s out for the season, and I fear we will miss him. Here’s that fixture pile up I mentioned. Our league position is going to be 4th, 5th or 6th, none of which I care about, so I’ve made the decision to sack off the Liverpool home game. We need to be rested for Monaco.
With that in mind, this is the team I’ve selected. To be fair, they’ve all played at International level with the exception of Pinas, Hamilton and Hislop, who all have Under 21 caps at this stage.
Bjarni Gudjonsson will probably win the Ballon D’Or. This result should not happen.
It means the first team have had extra rest ahead of the visit of Monaco. A 2-0 win will see us advance, but if Monaco score twice we need 5. Tomasson gives us the lead and everything is good but Ikpeba equalises on the stroke of half time. With no margin for error, Japhet N’Doram eliminates us on 56 minutes. We show some late fight, with Pinas getting his first professional goal before Shearer puts us ahead on the night. It’s not enough, but what a run we’ve had.
It’s Juventus in the final, which we probably wouldn’t have won – though I do have Andy Griffin…
Off to Leicester then and another chance for Shearer to
kick Neil Lennon in the head make friends with Neil Lennon. A ding dong battle ends in a draw when Rush climbs off the bench to equalise. He’s been more useful than I could have imagined.
Another pointless International break allows teams to prepare for World Cup 98, but the return to club action sees us put Wimbledon to the sword. We’re a fun side.
There’s still time for yet another game with Man Utd, our 5th meeting of the season, and that pesky Paul Scholes means it’s a poor day for us. We should probably get used to that.
The league season is coming to a close with that FA Cup final date with Blackburn now creeping into focus. Southampton are despatched, which is a bigger result than you realise. We used to struggle at The Dell.
Relegation threatened Barnsley take the lead against us but Shearer scores twice to give us another away win and seals us 4th spot. It gets us nothing extra but it’s nice to be able to say.
Goals 29 and 30 follow for Shearer in the final game. He’s some boy.
The main thing I can take from this season is that we are the top scorers in the league, doing Kevin proud and banishing the turgidness that would eventually cost Kenny Dalglish his job.
To lead the team out in front of the pretend famous arch is obviously a great honour. We’ve had a tremendous season but to end the trophy drought of 29 years (add on another 20 now ffs) would be a fitting way to end this save. Colin Hendry gets sent off after just 4 minutes and Andreas Andersson scores the winner. I’m not sure how I feel about that.
Woo and yay though. Nobody can say we didn’t deserve it having knocked out Chelsea, Man Utd and Liverpool in consecutive rounds.
The players have had a decent time. Shearer is wanted by Man Utd, as is Gillespie, but tough. They’ve both been great.
An array of statistics for those of you that are interested
Andreas Andersson was involved in 48 goals. Good grief. Shearer returned on December 6th and netted 30 times in 36 games. He’s quite good.
Only 3 man of the matches seems quite stupid. He finished top scorer for the whole of England.
This was good fun, your interaction on Twitter has been phenomenal and warms my bitter old heart. Hopefully it has helped fill the close season gap. My next short story will be along soon before we head back to Belgium for the Waregem save. See you again soon!