Newcastle United: The first 125 Years


Saturday was Newcastle United's 125th Birthday, it was a fantastic atmosphere before the game with all the flags but unfortunately, the players couldn't get a result. But let's take a look at the club's history so far to celebrate the 125th anniversary.

1880s - The beginning

The origins of NUFC can traced back to November 1881 when Stanley Cricket Club formed a football club in Byker that was renamed to Newcastle East End eleven months later. Meanwhile, Newcastle's West End Cricket Club formed Newcastle West End in August 1882 and they took over St James' Park in 1886 and became rivals with the East End in the Northern League.

1890s - NUFC is formed

East End became professional in 1889 and in March 1890, they became a limited company with a capital of £1,000 but towards the end of the 1891-92 season, their results were at an all-time low and West End were in serious trouble and eventually liquidated. East End took over St James' Park and were invited to play in the Second Division but turned the offer down and remained in the Northern League. In an attempt to attract bigger crowds, they decided to change their name and on 9 December 1892, they became Newcastle United. In 1893, we lost our first ever competitive match 3-2 at home to Middlesbrough in the FA Cup but we joined the Second Division later that year and our first competitive match was a 2-2 draw away to Woolwich Arsenal and we finished 4th in our first ever league season. The final day of the 1894-95 season saw us suffer our record defeat as we were trounced 9-0 by Burton Wanderers on Easter Monday. In 1898, we finished second in the league and qualified for the end of the season along with champions Blackburn and Burnley and Stoke, who finished in the bottom two positions in the First Division. However, Blackburn and Stoke deliberately played out a 0-0 draw, knowing it would be enough for both to play in the First Division. This led to the Football League getting rid of test matches and introducing promotion and relegation whilst all four teams would be playing First Division football in 1898-99. But we started life in the top flight with a 4-2 home loss against Wolves and it took us eleven attempts to win a game as we beat Liverpool 3-0 on Guy Fawkes Day on 5 November 1898. We finished our first ever top flight season in 13th but we won our first ever Tyne-Wear derby 3-2 against Sunderland at Roker Park on Christmas Eve.

1900s - The first successes

At the turn of the century, our league positions improved and in 1905, we won our first ever league title and reached our first FA Cup final but lost 2-0 to Aston Villa at Crystal Palace. A year later, we lost another FA Cup final at Crystal Palace, this time 1-0 to Everton. In 1907, we won the league again but we were stunned by Southern League club Crystal Palace in the FA Cup, losing 1-0 on Tyneside in the first round. In 1908, we recorded the biggest ever FA Cup semi-final win by hammering Fulham 6-0 at Anfield but Crystal Palace proved to be an unhappy hunting ground once again as we lost 3-1 there to a Wolves side, who finished 9th in the Second Division. In December 1908, we suffered our biggest ever home defeat, losing 9-1 to Sunderland of all teams despite the score being 1-1 at the break but we made up for it by winning the league that season.

1910s - Interrupted by war

In 1910, we finally won the FA Cup, we drew against Barnsley at Crystal Palace before winning the replay at Goodison Park. However, we returned to Crystal Palace for the final time for the 1911 final, which we drew against Bradford before losing 1-0 in the replay at Old Trafford. Our last competitive game before competitive football was suspended at the end of the 1914-15 season due to WW1 was a 3-0 home win over Aston Villa, when it returned in the summer of 1919, we beat Arsenal 1-0 at Highbury.

1920s - Wor Hughie

Our first visit to Wembley came in 1924 for the FA Cup final and we beat Aston Villa 2-0 thanks to late goals from Neil Harris and Stan Seymour, who became an influential figure at the club as a player, manager and director until his death on Christmas Eve 1978. Three years later, we won our fourth, and so far, last top flight title. However, that was the only time between the two wars that we finished in the top three in the First Division despite Hughie Gallacher's 141 goals in 174 games.

1930s - Relegation and another war

In 1930, Andy Cunningham became our first ever official manager and was player-manager in his first season in charge. That summer, Hughie Gallacher was sold to Chelsea and his return to St James' Park in September drew a record crowd of 68,386. In 1932, we reached the FA Cup final and the game became known as the 'Over The Line' final as the ball appeared to have crossed the line for an Arsenal goal kick but Jimmy Richardson crossed it in and Jack Allen equalised. Allen scored against to seal a 2-1 win and our third FA Cup triumph, however, despite a fifth place finish in 1933, we were relegated for the first time in 1934 despite hammering Liverpool 9-2 and Everton 7-3 in the space of a week. Things got worse as the decade and Cunningham left the club in 1935 and Tom Mather took over, three years later, we were only saved from relegation to the Third Division on goal average. The day after an 8-1 humping of Swansea, competitive football was once again suspended for WW2 in September 1939 whilst Tom Mather's stint in charge came to an end.

1940s - Back in the top flight

Whilst competitive football was suspended, Jackie Milburn, Tommy Walker and Bobby Cowell were brought in and played in Wartime League games. When competitive football restarted in January 1946, we beat Barnsley 4-2 in the first leg of the FA Cup third round before losing 3-0 at Oakwell to go out 5-4 on aggregate. When league football was resumed in the summer, we finished in the top five for the first time since relegation and recorded our biggest ever win by beating Newport 13-0 in October 1946, in 1948, we won promotion in George Martin's first season in charge despite selling top scorers Charlie Wayman in the summer and Len Shackleton in February as Jackie Milburn took over as the main man.

1950s - FA Cup fever

Martin resigned as manager in December 1950 but the early 1950s was a memorable period of our history as we won the FA Cup in 1951, 1952 and 1955, inspired by the likes of Jackie Milburn, Bobby Mitchell and George Robledo with Doug Livingstone taking over as manager five months before the 1955 triumph before leaving in 1956 due to issues with the board. We started to decline afterwards and after we only escaped relegation on goal average in 1958, Stan Seymour was replaced by Charlie Mitten and it was Len White's goals were what kept us up after Jackie Milburn's retirement in 1957.

1960s - European glory

Despite scoring 86 league goals in the 1960-61 season, we also conceded 109 goals and were relegated. Mitten was sacked in October after a bad start to the 1961-62 season and Norman Smith came in to save us from relegation but stepped down at the end of the season. Joe Harvey took over and led us to the Second Division title in 1965, in 1968, we qualified for Europe for the first time and our first ever game in Europe was a 4-0 win over Feyenoord in the first leg of the Inter-Cities Faires Cup first round and we eliminated Sporting Lisbon, Real Zaragoza, Vitória Setúbal and Rangers to reach the final against Újpest Dózsa. We won the first leg 3-0 at St James' before going 2-0 down at half-time in Hungary, but goals from captain Bob Moncur, Preben Arentoft and substitute Alan Foggon sealed a 6-2 aggregate win and made us champions.

1970s - Supermac

In our attempt to defend the Faires Cup, we lost 2-0 in the first leg of the quarter-final away to Anderlecht but Keith Dyson put us 3-0 up in the return leg on Tyneside a week later and we looked set to go through before Thomas Nordahl scored to make it 3-3 on aggregate and we were out on away goals. In the last edition of the competition the following season, we only reached the second round, where we were beaten Pécsi Dózsa on penalties. In 1971, a young Malcolm MacDonald arrived for £180k from Luton and scored a hat-trick on his home debut against Liverpool but later that season, we were on the end of one of the most talked about FA Cup upsets as we lost 2-1 to Southern League Hereford in a third round replay thanks to goals from Ronnie Radford and Charlie George. In 1974, we reached the final and despite losing 3-0 to Liverpool (with a certain Kevin Keegan scored twice), the team were were given a warm welcome home by thousands of fans two days later. Joe Harvey resigned after three consecutive 15th place finishes in 1975 and Gordon Lee took over, despite leading us to Wembley to face Man City in our first, and so far only League Cup final, where we were beaten 2-1 thanks to a Dennis Tueart overhead kick, Lee became unpopular with the fans as he sold stars like MacDonald and he left for Everton in January 1977 with Richard Dinnis taking over, Dinnis oversaw a fifth place finish meaning we qualified for the UEFA Cup for the first time but the 1977-78 proved to be probably the worst in our history as we lost a club record ten successive league games, went out of Europe in the second round thanks to a Johnny Rep inspired Bastia, failed to win a single league game after 2 January and were humiliated 4-1 by Second Division Wrexham in the FA Cup with non-league Blyth Spartans' replay against the Welshmen in the next round drawing the biggest crowd at St James' Park that season. Inevitably we were relegated with a pathetic 22 points. Dinnis was sacked in November and replaced by Bill McGarry.

1980s - Waddle, Keegan, Beardsley and Gazza

Arthur Cox arrived as manager in September 1980 and gave future England star Chris Waddle his Magpies debut in a 1-0 win over Shrewsbury in October 1980 but the fans were given a real lift when former Ballon d'Or winner Kevin Keegan signed from Southampton for £100k in August 1982, fans queued for hours to get into the ground for his debut against QPR and he scored the only goal of the game. Peter Beardsley joined in September 1983 and he, Waddle and Keegan all played a big part in the club winning promotion in Keegan's final season as player. However, Arthur Cox resigned as manager due to board disagreements and World Cup winner Jack Charlton took over but left a year in charge whilst Waddle joined Tottenham for £590k. In April 1985, Paul Gascoigne made his debut in a 1-0 home win against QPR and spent three years on Tyneside under new manager Willie McFaul, in July 1987, Beardsley left for Liverpool for a British record £1.9m and Gascoigne joined Waddle at Tottenham a year later. McFaul was sacked in the wake of a 3-0 humilation against Coventry and Jim Smith couldn't save us from relegation. But the following season started with new signing Mick Quinn scoring a hat-trick in a 5-2 win over Leeds.

1990s - The Keegan revolution

Despite a return to the top flight looking likely, a 4-1 loss at relegation threatened Middlesbrough meant we had to face local rivals Sunderland in the play-offs, John Burridge saved a Paul Hardyman penalty in the first leg to leave the tie goalless after ninety minutes and the full-back's reaction meant he was sent off and out of the return leg three days later. But goals from Eric Gates and Marco Gabbiadini left us 2-0 down and the fans invaded the pitch in an attempt to abandon the game but the remainder of the game was played out and the Black Cats were heading to Wembley to face Swindon, to make things worse, they lost 1-0 but the Robins had broken numerous league rules and our rivals were given their place in the top flight (unsurprisingly they were relegated a year later). Smith resigned in March 1991 and was replaced by Ossie Ardiles, who was sacked in February 1992 as we were on the brink of relegation to the Third Division. Kevin Keegan came back and a last minute own goal from Steve Walsh gave us a 2-1 win at promotion hopefuls Leicester and kept us in the second tier although Keegan was close to walking out just a 1-0 home win against Swindon until Sir John Hall promised him the funds he needed to build a team for promotion. Keegan signed Barry Venison, John Beresford, Andy Cole and Rob Lee and we won the First Division (after the Football League was rebranded) by eight points. Under Keegan we returned to the UEFA Cup thanks to a 3rd place finish in 1994 (with Cole winning the golden boot) and we demolished Belgian side Royal Antwerp 10-2 on aggregate in the first round (including a 5-0 win in Belgium) but against Athletic Bilbao, we were 3-0 up in the first leg on Tyneside but the Spaniards netted twice before winning the return leg 1-0 to go through on away goals. Meanwhile, Keegan received criticism from fans and pundits for selling top scorer Andy Cole to Man Utd in January and we could only finish sixth and failed to qualify for Europe. But in the summer, Les Ferdinand, Warren Barton and David Ginola were all signed and we were twelve points clear of second placed Man Utd in January, however, despite the mid season signing of Tino Asprilla, the gap was down to one point as we dropped points at home for the first time in ten months as the Red Devils won 1-0 on Tyneside thanks to a masterclass performance from Peter Schmeichel and an Eric Cantona volley and further losses to Arsenal, Liverpool and Blackburn (the last two being thanks to late drama) meant Sir Alex Ferguson's outfit overtook us. The Scot's mind games led to Keegan's "I would love it if we beat them" rant after a vital 1-0 win at Leeds but we dropped points against Nottingham Forest and Tottenham and finished second. But Euro 96 top scorer Alan Shearer returned to his boyhood club that summer and scored a wonderful free kick on his home debut against Wimbledon. But despite us challenging for the title again, Keegan resigned in January 1997, claiming he'd taken us as far as he could. Kenny Dalglish couldn't win the title but a 5-0 humping of relegated Nottingham Forest on the final day and rule changes meant we would be playing Champions League football for the first time in 1997-98 after another second place finish. However, after he sold Les Ferdinand and David Ginola in pre season, Alan Shearer suffered an injury that ruled him out for half the season and despite Tino Asprilla's hat-trick against Barcelona in a famous 3-2 win, we finished in a poor 13th place despite reaching the FA Cup final, where were beaten 2-0 by Arsenal. Dalglish was sacked in August 1998 and Ruud Gullit took over but it was another 13th place finish and 2-0 FA Cup final loss, this time against Man Utd. The Dutchman resigned after leaving Shearer on the bench in a 2-1 home loss to newly promoted local rivals Sunderland and in Bobby Robson's first home game in charge, we demolished Sheffield Wednesday 8-0 with Shearer scoring a joint Premier League record five.

2000's - Europe then relegation

Another injury hit season for Alan Shearer meant it was another eleventh place finish for us in 2000-01 but in the summer, Robbie Elliot returned on a free from Bolton four years after his first spell on Tyneside ended whilst Craig Bellamy, Sylvain Distin and Laurent Robert were also signed by Robson and we finished in fourth place to secure another season of Champions League for 2002-03 and despite a slow start both in Europe and domestically, we got back into the title race and Craig Bellamy's stoppage time winner against Feyenoord meant we became the first team to progress from the Champions League group stages after losing the first three games but despite 3-1 wins against Bayer Leverkusen in the second group stage and a 2-2 draw away to Inter Milan, we lost our other three games and went out of the competition and we finished third in the league but started the 2003-04 season badly - we went out the Champions League at the play-off stage as we were beaten on penalties by Partizan Belgrade, failed to win a league game until 4 October and were knocked out of the Carling Cup at the first hurdle at home to First Division West Brom. We also won only two league away games over the season and could only finish fifth but despite this, we reached the UEFA Cup semi-finals, only to be beaten by future Chelsea legend Didier Drogba's double as we went out 2-0 on aggregate to Marseille. That plus the failure to win any of the final four league games (including the players being booed during the end of season lap of honour) was the beginning of the end for Robson, an alleged discontent dressing room and failure to win any of the first four league games of the season meant he was sacked and replaced by Graeme Souness. Despite the Scot leading Blackburn to promotion, a Worthington Cup win and a sixth place finish in his four years at Ewood Park, his tenure on Tyneside was a disaster with poor signings like Jean-Alain Boumsong and Michael Owen, we finished an awful 14th and the team spirit evaporated, this was summed up by Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer's on pitch fight with each other in an embarrassing 3-0 loss to Aston Villa, which not only ended a nine game unbeaten run but started a bad end to the season as we went out the UEFA Cup 4-2 on aggregate to Sporting Lisbon despite winning the first leg 1-0 on Tyneside then taking the lead in Portugal and before another 4-1 in a cup competition saw us beaten by Man Utd in the FA Cup semi-finals. Craig Bellamy had been loaned out to Celtic after falling out with Souness and Shearer and when he returned, he was sold to Blackburn for £5m. Souness was sacked in February in the wake of a 3-0 defeat away to Man City with fans chanting for him to be sacked and Glenn Roeder was appointed as caretaker, Laurent Robert, Olivier Bernard and Jermaine Jenas were believed to have left on bad terms with the former Liverpool midfielder as well as Bellamy. Roeder's first game in charge proved to be memorable with Shearer becaming our record goalscorer at the Gallowgate End in a 2-0 win over Portsmouth. From that point, Roeder took us from 15th to 7th at the end of the season, meaning European football on Tyneside for 2006-07. Meanwhile, Alan Shearer retired after scoring 206 goals in ten years on Tyneside with his last ever goal being a penalty in a 4-1 win away to Sunderland shortly before his season ended with an injury. However, Michael Owen suffered a bad injury at the 2006 World Cup and wouldn't play again until April 2007, he was one of several senior players who suffered an injury early on in the season and a 1-0 home loss against newly promoted Sheffield United left us 19th and fans calling for the board to resign. In December 2006, we were awarded the Intertoto Cup as the team who took part that went the furthest in the UEFA Cup but we were humiliated 5-1 at home by Championship Birmingham in an FA Cup third round replay and we were knocked out of the UEFA Cup on away goals by AZ Alkmaar in the round of 16. After a 2-1 win over Liverpool in February, we only won one more league game and Roeder resigned after a 2-0 home loss to Blackburn (meaning we failed to score one goal at home after the European exit) in the penultimate game of the season. Sam Allardyce was appointed two days after the final game of the season whilst Mike Ashley bought Freddy Shepherd and John Hall's stakes in the club. Despite Allardyce succeeding with Bolton, he only won seven out of his twenty-nine league games and was sacked in January with Kevin Keegan making a sensational return to the club. But at the start the 2008-09 season, Keegan reluctantly accepted a £12m bid from Aston Villa for key midfielder James Milner after being convinced into thinking they could sign Euro 2008 star Bastian Schweinsteiger but Bayern Munich would not even sell him for £50m and Xisco and Ignacio Gonzalez were brought in by unpopular Director of Football Dennis Wise, it was also revealed that the club tried to sell Michael Owen and Joey Barton behind Keegan's back and he eventually resigned, leading to fan protests against Wise and Ashley, who put the club up for sale immediately but to no avail. Joe Kinnear came in but only won 19% of his games in charge before suffering a heart attack and Alan Shearer came back with the club 18th with eight games left but couldn't save us from relegation as the likes of Michael Owen and Mark Viduka down-tooled over the campaign. A 6-1 pre season loss at Leyton Orient led to crisis talks and numerous players left the club. A fantastic start to life in the Championship led to Chris Hughton, who was made caretaker manager at the start of the season become permanent manager.

2010s - Numerous protests but hopefully a bright future

We won the Championship by eleven points and didn't lose a single home game all season, a fitting tribute to Bobby Robson, who'd passed away in July 2009. But despite hammering Aston Villa 6-0 and Sunderland 5-1 as well as ending Chelsea's winning home run and 1-0 wins at Everton and Arsenal, Chris Hughton was controversially sacked with Ashley getting a lot of criticism from numerous managers and pundits as well as Lord Sugar. Alan Pardew was appointed and his first game against Liverpool saw fans thank Hughton for the job he did and protest against Ashley, we finished the season in a respectable 12th place but were embarrassed 3-1 by Football League debutantes Stevenage in the FA Cup third round. In February, we became the first, and so far only team to come from 4-0 down to avoid defeat in a Premier League game as Cheick Tiote's 87th minute thunderbolt sealed a memorable 4-4 draw against Arsenal. The summer saw captain Kevin Nolan surprisingly sold to West Ham for just £4m and replaced by Lille midfielder Yohan Cabaye, meanwhile Demba Ba moved the opposite way to Nolan on a free transfer after his seven goals in thirteen games weren't enough to save the Hammers from relegation. Meanwhile, Joey Barton criticised the board on Twitter and was sold to newly promoted QPR for free whilst Jose Enrique joined Liverpool for £6m. Despite the problems, we finished in a superb 5th place in the league with Demba Ba scoring 15 goals before going to the African Nations Cup whilst fellow Senegalese striker Papiss Cisse arrived from Freiburg in January and bagged 13 goals after returning with Ba from the AFCON. We took four points off defending champions Man Utd (including a 3-0 win on Tyneside), beat and finished above Liverpool and Chelsea whilst Hatem Ben Arfa scored two memorable solo goals against Bolton and Blackburn, having played only four league games in his first season due to injury and Yohan Cabaye and Cheick Tiote dominated midfields over the season. But the 2012-13 campaign saw us drop to 16th with Ba leaving for Chelsea in January and Cisse not being able to find his form from his first half season on Tyneside, a 2-1 home loss against newly promoted Reading left us as the only team without an away win in the top five leagues in the country and we signed four Frenchmen in four days after signing Mathieu Debuchy early on the window. One of the new signings, Moussa Sissoko got an assist on his debut against Aston Villa and scored twice as we came from behind to beat Chelsea 3-2 and he netted again on what was known as French Day against Southampton whilst fellow Frenchman Yohan Cabaye scored from the spot later in the game. We reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League, only to be beaten 4-2 on aggregate by Benfica, three days after the European exit, we suffered a 3-0 humiliation at home to local rivals Sunderland, who hadn't won a game in three months before stunning St James' Park, this was our biggest home loss against them since 1979. Two weeks later, Liverpool gave us our biggest home loss since 1925 as they won 6-0 on Tyneside. The return of Joe Kinnear as Director of Football and failure to buy anyone in the summer led to further fan protests whilst Yohan Cabaye refused to play in the first two games of the season in an attempt to force through a move to Arsenal. After a 2-1 loss at local rivals Sunderland (their first win of the season) numerous papers were banned for their coverage of the fans' march against the board eight days earlier, the Chronicle responded by printing a message for Ashley on the front cover of their paper before a 2-0 win over Chelsea. We were only four points off a Champions League place at the turn of the year and had won 1-0 at White Hart Lane and Old Trafford but Yohan Cabaye was sold to PSG for £19m and we started to collapse, losing 3-0 at home to Sunderland for the second year running and only four games after Cabaye was sold. Our worst losing run for 27 years led to a 69th minute walkout against Pardew and Ashley (Kinnear left in February) in the penultimate game of the season. Despite signing the likes of Siem De Jong and Remy Cabella in the summer, we failed to win any of our first seven league games and there were calls for Pardew to be sacked but a six game winning run (including winning 2-0 at the Etihad in the Capital One Cup) lifted us up to fifth and we ended Chelsea's unbeaten start to the season in all competitions despite Steven Taylor's late red card. Pardew left for Crystal Palace at the turn of the year and whilst most fans were happy to see him go, his assistant John Carver was in charge for the rest of the season and three wins in his twenty games (including our worst losing run in 38 years) led to fans boycotting the home game against Tottenham as Sunderland once against did the league double over us whilst a 2-1 loss at already relegated QPR left us needing to beat West Ham on the final day to ensure survival and Jonas Gutierrez, who'd beaten cancer earlier in the season) got an assist and a goal in his final game for the club to keep us up but disgustingly, it was revealed that him and Ryan Taylor were both released on the phone. Carver was inevitably sacked and replaced by Steve McClaren, who had ambitions of top half and a good cup run but despite around £50m being spent in the summer, we found ourselves in a relegation battle, having suffered hammerings against Man City, Leicester and Crystal Palace whilst newly promoted Watford and Championship outfit Sheffield Wednesday both won at SJP in the space of a week. We spent a further £29.5m on Henri Saivet, Jonjo Shelvey and Andros Townsend in January as well as bringing in Seydou Doumbia on loan but McClaren was sacked after a 3-1 home loss against Bournemouth, a game which saw fans cheer as Moussa Sissoko was subbed off and Emmanuel Riviere start up front on his own despite his awful record for us. Rafa Benitez was appointed to the delight of the fans and despite not being able to save us from the drop, the fans took to him as we beat Swansea 3-0 and former manager Alan Pardew's Crystal Palace 1-0 (with Yohan Cabaye seeing his penalty saved by third choice keeper Karl Darlow) whilst holding Man City and Liverpool to draws in between. Four days after our relegation was confirmed, we hammered Tottenham 5-1 with Georginio Wijnaldum, Moussa Sissoko and Daryl Janmaat all deciding to turn up having down tooled towards the end of the season and the fans chanting for Rafa to stay on persuaded the Spaniard to do so. Unsurprisingly, we won the Championship title and recorded a club record fourteen away wins, including humping QPR 6-0 at Loftus Road but the circumstances in which we won the title were unbelievable - a 3-1 loss at Ipswich on Easter Monday saw us trailing promoted Brighton by seven points with three games to spare but they lost to Norwich before we beat Preston to seal promotion and reduce the gap to four points, it was down to one point after a 2-0 win at Cardiff but we needed the Seagulls to somehow slip up at home to lowly Bristol City and they lost 1-0. On the final day, we just needed to better their result to win the title and Chancel Mbemba's first Magpies goal put us 2-0 up against Barnsley in the 58th and we'd pretty much done our job but Brighton took the lead at Aston Villa through a Glenn Murray penalty shortly afterwards, Dwight Gayle came off the bench to make it 3-0 in our game and his celebration was to celebrate the fact we'd be swapping leagues with Sunderland and then news broke through that Jack Grealish had equalised for Villa and when the final score came through from Villa Park, it was euphoria on Tyneside as we clinched the Championship title. Despite a disappointing summer transfer window, more good news came in October as Mike Ashley confirmed that the club was up for sale and hopefully Amanda Stavelely can complete a takeover soon. We celebrated our 125th birthday with special flag displays against Leicester on Saturday. Let's hope for more successful years to come.


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