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Let's Reminisce

Different kind of column from me this week, but these are certainly unique times. So whether you are self isolating, or just want two minutes of escapism, let's go back to Halloween 2010...

Derby day. The first Tyne-Wear derby since Newcastle United's return to the Premier League, with the ever dignified Chris Hughton at the helm. My then girlfriend, and now present Mrs Mulliner had secured us tickets in the Gallowgate (from then on, I knew she was a keeper!)

12pm kick off, so it was an early start for us, travelling up from the Midlands. The butterflies in my stomach increased with every mile covered. This was my first experience of Derby Day, and I, like everyone else, were desperate for it not to be a losing one. By the time we took a pit-stop at Wetherby services, the nerves got the better of me briefly, as I snapped at my better half, following one too many continuous questions on what I wanted to eat! After a brief telling off from my now wife, and a sausage roll we were back on the road to the toon.

Butterflies were still on the rise, as we are now coming off the A1, and St James Park appears on the horizon, still one of the most glorious sights to behold (so make use of it whilst you can, before a hotel blocks it)

I get in the Gallowgate nice and early as normal, reading the match-day program over a cup of tea (I was driving home). As my girlfriend and I were chatting whilst watching the heroes in black and white do their pre-match warm up. The two gentleman next to us notice our lack of a Geordie accent. Asking where we were from, they christened us as adopted geordies, the one man insisted "You're here, and you're wearing black and white. You're a geordie now!" One of the many examples of just why I love Newcastle.

The game begins. After a cagey opening quarter of an hour, Newcastle begin to turn the screw and dominate. A Joey Barton shot saved by Simon Mignolet had me off my seat. After 26 minutes, the breakthrough came at the Gallowgate end, through skipper Kevin Nolan. My girlfriend and I celebrated and to quote Alan Partridge: "I gave her a ruddy big kiss she won't forget in a while."

Eight minutes later, the lead doubled. Nolan again! He was so free from any defender, I was waiting for the linesmans's flag to be raised. Thankfully, that did not happen and scenes ensued. Surely this first half couldn't get any better? The then Sunderland manger, Steve Bruce blinked and made his first substitution after forty minutes, which as we all know by now, an early Bruce substitution is quite out of character! Asamoah Gyan entered the fray replacing El-Muhammadi, as the mackems switched to a 4-3-3.

This proved to be a complete waste of time, as in first half stoppage time, Nedum Onuoha hacked down Jonas Gutierrez and referee Phil Dowd duly pointed to the spot. Up stepped our mackem slayer, Shola Ameobi, despite Nolan being on a hat rick, who dispatched a perfect penalty firmly into the bottom corner. I'm reliably informed that my girlfriend then turned to me to celebrate the goal, in the same manor that we did the first two. I was unaware of this, as I was in a mass pile-on/limbs moment in scenes of utter elation further down my row, along with the two gentlemen who previously christened us as geordies.

As the first half eventually drew to a close, all 50,000 people in black and white rose to their feet. Even Justin Lockwood proved to be entertaining at half-time, openly goading the away support, which has to be said, was rather amusing.

The second half began as the first ended, Newcastle United domination. It was never a case of Sunderland getting back into the game, but how many were we going to win by? Any faint hopes from the away contingent soon dissipated, as former Newcastle lummox, Titus Bramble hacked down Andy Carroll, who I have to say was magnificent in this game, the lad did everything but score. Bramble was given his marching orders in the 53rd minute. Nobody could believe how ridiculously well this game was going!

Sunderland had lost their heads big time, and by the time Ameobi had added a fourth, and Nolan completed his hat-rick to make it five, the game had descended into a comedy show. When Sunderland got a consolation in the final minute, the only cheers that could be heard, were the ironic cheers coming from the home end!

Full-time came, and thus the curtain came down on the most remarkable 90 minutes I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing at St James Park. The traffic queuing to get on the A1 Southbound was an utter joy, as the scenes of jubilation spilled on to the roadways through people's use of their car horns. The near four hour journey home seemed to fly-by, as we got home with plenty of time to spare to catch the highlights on match of the day 2!

Stay safe and well.


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