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Tuesday, September 13, 2005
  Newcastle v Fulham - My Day & Match Reaction

Yeah, I was at the match this weekend!!!

It was a totally amazing experience... The noise in the stadium was awesome, and while the result didn't go as planned, clearly Michael Owen hadn't read the script clearly, or he would have known that he was supposed to score a hattrick!

The day started off a bit shaky. My flight from Toronto to London Heathrow was delayed an hour, but I still landed at around 7:30, with what I thought was plenty of time to make my 9:50am connecting flight to Newcastle... The plane taxied for a while before getting to the gate, followed by about a 10 minute walk to the shuttle bus, waited another 10 minutes, then a 15 minute drive to Terminal 1, then a 15 minute in the security line-up, so now it's about 8:35am, at this point, I am seriously considering that perhaps the plane crashed while I was dozing off and I am in fact, in hell, which consists of a series of 10 minute walks through an airport terminal followed by waiting in line... repeat ad infinitum... Anyway, my gate is supposed to close at 9:20am, and I find there's a line of HUNDREDS of people (which was barely moving) to get through immigration... Ugh... I finally make it through by about 9:30am, and SPRINT (ok I stopped to breathe a few times), and made to the gate as the flight was boarding!

While waiting in the line, I figured I better give Adrian a call, (cuz I said I would) to let him know the situation... "phone says no" I was sure that my mobility phone had worked in the UK before... Who knows whether they no longer having a roaming agreement or what, but no joy, so I couldn't let Adrian know I'd made my flight...

Ok, back to boarding the flight to the Toon.... As I walk past first class and into coach, who do I see? George bloody Graham! (For those of you who don't know, he is a scottish former player and manager, managed Arsenal, Tottenham, etc) I wave and tell him that he's shite... Just kidding, I didn't say anything to him, but he WAS really there! Later in the day, we spot him on TV as a pundit for the late kick off Middlesboro v Arsenal match...

So I land in Newcastle, grab my bag, walk out and to my delight Adrian is there to pick me up, joy! We head into town, pick up another Canadian, Brett, a co-worker from Adrian's company from Vancouver who is over for business, but attending his first Toon match. Then we head to a sports store in the city centre to do some shopping...

.George Graham: Back in the top flight!

Everything is on sale in the place, I could have easily spent 2 hours in there, and
£200 pounds, but I somehow manage to control myself, and just pick up a new home jersey for
£11, and a few other little things. Next we quickly pop into 'The Back Page', a superb little sports memorabilia shop, TONNES of old match programs, books, videos, Corinthians figurines, etc, etc, etc... I snatch up a few more little treats and then we're off...

We drop off our stuff back at Adrian's place, grab a taxi back into town and head to Bodega, a fantastic pub, absolutely packed with Toon fans, and serving cask conditioned real ale... It's a CAMRA pub of the year!!! I now realize that it's still possible that my plane crashed, but clearly I've made it to Heaven instead! :)

I knock back a few pints, I have a Bitter (can't remember which) and a Mordue Workie Ticket

Next up, it's 2:30pm, time to head for the match... It's a short walk to St. James' Park, the place is buzzing, we make our way through the concourse and into the ground, we're at the Gallowgate end, we walk up and realize that instead of heading UP the stairs, we're heading down... to the FRONT ROW!!! (AA), I'm standing at my seat, I'm about 15' away from the goal... I'm absolutely kicking myself for not bringing my camera, but I'm practically floating! I kiss Adrian... (on the cheek! don't be gay!)

The place absolutely ERUPTS as the players come out the tunnel, of course for Michael as he's announced last... The match gets started and within 10 minutes we've conceded a goal (right in front of me), Stephen Taylor plays a suicidal back pass, which is intercepted, Boumsong slips as the pass comes in and McBride is left with an easy tap in... Boo...

We continue to play like sh*te for the remainder of the first half... Souness makes a few decisions that I disagree with, he plays Bramble in the middle (should have stuck with Taylor), moves Taylor out to right full back, and plays Stephen Carr in right midfield where he obviously has no clue what to do... Parker is holding midfield and Faye is playing further forward... Why he wouldn't have started Bowyer (or even Clark who'd be up for the match playing against Fulham), I can't explain... When Bowyer and Clark do eventually come on in the second half, we play better...

Half time... Time for a pint and a pie... Both are magnificent... Back in my seat munching on a delicious mince beef pie, watching Newcastle, it's too amazing for words...

Owen gets fouled on the edge of the box, little Charles N'Zogbia steps up, curls a great spot kick into the far corner, we go berzerk (and apparently I'm captured on film in the EPL highlights show!) I keep joking that "There's only one Charles N'Zogbia" is a great chant, because possible for the first time ever, it's probably accurate, there probably really is only ONE "Charles N'Zogbia"... The match sort of fizzles out after this, but hey, we've managed to grab a point, I've seen a goal, I can't complain!

We head back to Bodega, have some more pints, go for a Ruby Murray, head back to Adrian's place, he thows on Football Factory and I pass out on the couch... What a perfect day!
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A personal blog by John Walter.

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I think a lot. Some people say I think too much... However, I don't want to be seen as being aloof or pretentious, it's just that I really enjoy philosophical questions and deep thoughts. That's not to say that I don't find pleasure in more down-to-earth or trivial things, like beer and soccer :) I'm happily married with 3 wonderful children. I'm a partner in a technology services company based in Toronto. Myers Briggs says I'm an ENTJ

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