As we go into our first FA Cup quarter-final game since 2006, I thought I would write about my day when we came from behind to salvage a point late on against Man City back in late November earlier this season.
It was the time of year when autumn has nearly made its full transition into winter and there was a distinct cold chill in the air. As always on a day when I have work, I always pack my bag for the day the night before, giving me a few more minutes of slumber before waking up.
I left my house in Darlington and made the 45 minute walk to the train station at around 11:15am, 75 minutes prior to kick off. However, I was not going half an hour up to Newcastle today, I was going half an hour in the opposite direction to York. This was a day where I did my favourite job, commentating on York City FC's home matches and they were up against Alfreton Town today.
I was pleased with myself when I timed my commute to perfection. I arrived at Darlington train station just after the pre-match hectic rush at the station had passed with it being a lunchtime kick-off at St. James' Park. My plan was to get into York earlier than usual so I could find a pub or bar to watch the match before I head over to Bootham Crescent for work.
My train ran a few minutes late which meant I had got into York just after kick-off so I was going to be out of the loop over the goings on at St. James' Park for a period of the first half. I got into York and found that the score was goalless in the early minutes. "Good so far" I thought to myself as I dashed into Costa to pick up a sausage sandwich for my lunch - I do not recommend commentating on an empty stomach.
I ate my lunch while on the go as I walked from York train station towards the city centre where the beautiful York Minster is. The first couple of bars I tried didn't have BT Sport so were unable to show the game. Considering the busyness in Costa and the city centre, about half an hour would have been played and I had no idea what the score was so I tried to check if I had any data remaining on my phone and I caught a glimpse of the scoreline before my data gave out. It was 1-1 and felt delighted for Jetro Willems to get his first goal at SJP.
Just as I walked past the Bootham Tavern, I glanced in to see any sign they were showing the game and I managed to spot a telly on at the back of the room that with black and white shirts on some greenery. I shot into the bar and found a place to see the game. I ordered myself a J2O before I found a place with a good view of the telly. I had to stand because of the busyness.
At the start of the second half, I was in my element and was getting lost in that world of focussing on everything about the game. The two guys stood next to me saw I was paying close attention to the game and tried to make conversation with me which brought me out of the trance-like state. The guys were Man United fans and thus were hoping for us to get a positive result over Pep Guardiola's side.
It was a good conversation about football and our different insights and I loved it whenever Man City came close to scoring but our defending kept them at bay, I would celebrate a little and they would join in those celebrations. I would never have thought something like this would happen with non-Newcastle fans but I was wrong. As the second half progressed, a few more people in the bar came and watched the match on the screen and also seemed to find it entertaining to watch me watch the game with a nervously terrified look on my face.
Late on in the game, a piece of brilliance from Kevin De Bruyne gave Man City back their lead. It was head-in-hands time for me and the Man United fans next to me put a consolidating arm on my shoulder. However, the drama was not to end there.
We managed to win a free kick just outside the area. The box was flooded with players from both sides. Christian Atsu was standing over the set piece. I said several times, "Don't play it short. Don't play it short." The referee was ready. Atsu passed it and I exclaimed, "For f**k sake, he's played it short". However, coming into the camera shot was Shelvey setting himself up to shoot and was not getting closed down. Voldermort struck the ball. I felt my eyes widen and light up when the ball was going into the box and it was clearly not going into row Z.
The ball rippled the back of the net! I began to celebrate and jump around as if I were in the Strawberry Corner of the Gallowgate End. I grabbed the Man United fans next to me and we hugged in celebration. I came away from the hug, I took my coat off followed by my hoodie to reveal the Newcastle shirt I had on underneath and I loved it when I kissed the badge.
Following that, Man City did come close a few times with Raheem Sterling but I could see from the corner of my eye that whenever a chance was brewing up, I was the centre of attention as people were finding it more entertaining to watch me look on in horror.
As soon as the final whistle blew, I sat down at the bar with the feeling of great relief that we managed to come from behind twice and see out the match to gain a point from the Champions. With my legs still feeling like jelly, I departed the bar to head up the street to Bootham Crescent where a good day became better as the Minstermen ran out 1-0 winners in the wintry afternoon night.